Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reston Perfect 10-Miler Race Report

My fastest 10-Mile race time came last year, at the Army 10-Miler.  It was crowded, but I managed to get a 1:23:xx time.  Normally, my "speed" 10-milers are done at the Cherry Blossom 10-MIler.  My record there, out of all my years running the course, is (roughly) 85 minutes and change.  Cherry Blossom is FLAT.  It is FAST.  It is also crowded, but, if you've raced enough, you can start to get better at taking tangents.

This race has a much tougher course profile.  It is hilly. It narrows in places. But, it's not crowded, as 10 miler finishers accounted for only about 550 people.

Reston Perfect 10 Miler course elevation

I arrived fairly ridiculously early, got a parking spot at South Lakes High School, and walked over in the cold to get my bib and shirt.  After relaxing in my car and doing the of-course-necessary last second port-a-potty visit, I made my way over to the start line, which looked more like a bunch of people milling about.  I --kind of-- saw where the start line was, and I --kind of-- saw a sign saying "8-9 minute pace," but I just kind of . . . stood.  There we 10K runners who were going to start with us, and then peel off just prior to the 10K mark as we did the course.

Oh, the course.  It's a strange form of concentric circles, first moving outwards, and then back.  I wish I'd paid more attention to the finish, however.  Because there should have been a sign at mile 9.7 saying "HAHA MIND FUK LOL OWNED" (but I'll get to that).

There was no real sound at the start.  Everyone was standing around, and then people just started running.  I really hoped someone had turned on the timer.

Bang!  Off we . . . went?

GO . . . ?
Note:  I'm only doing half splits for this race, because my two halves were fairly steady.

Miles 0-5:

43 minutes.  The hills forced me into wild pace swings, which I tried my best to keep steady.  Meanwhile, if I was struggling to stay steady, a lot of folks were NOT.  They would hit the downhills and run like they were . . . well . . .

I had at LEAST couple of people, I'd say at least 3-4, who I'd watch fly past me on the downhills, and then, sure enough, as we hit each uphill, they were almost trudging/walking or at least significantly slowed (depending on where we were in the race).  I saw them enough times that I'd say to myself, "Yup, it's him/her again," and would at least assure myself that as long as we kept seeing each other, it wasn't like I was in anybody's dust.

Miles 5-10:

Just under 42 minutes and a half minutes, so once again I'd managed some negative splits.  As we got closer to the finish, I picked up speed.  I actually started to, you know, run DOWN the hills, instead of holding myself back.

Probably what I looked like at the time.
I didn't see any of the usual passers again . . . until after I was done, and I watched them finish.  I was finishing up this race in a damn good mood.  I didn't smell a PR, but I could tell things were going well.

I once ran a race THIS BIG!

But then things turned slightly annoying.  Not a lot.  But enough.

Look, while I'm proud of the negative split, it would have been a bigger difference in times had I not been utterly crestfallen towards the end.  This is because, just as you approach the finish, you turn AWAY from the track (you finish actually on the High School's track).

Um, wait.  No -- hello?  The finish line is RIGHT THE HELL OVER THERE.  RIGHT THERE.

Nope.  Not time yet.

Instead, we're going to run down, ALMOST to the school property's exit point, and then turn AROUND and run back to the finish.  So yeah, a little out/back in your last point 3 tenths of a mile.

Basically said this for the entire last quarter mile or so.
All my speed from the last mile (which was about 8 flat-ish) was gone.  I'd moved into trudge mode myself.  But, I'd finished. My Garmin time looked familiar to me.  VERY familiar.  It turns out I'd run this race in a little under 85 and a half minutes.  In fact, I'd run it ONE SECOND faster than my best Cherry Blossom time.  This course was now my second fastest 10-mile time ever.  My PR was minutes faster, but . . . wow.  On a hilly course, with a suspect groin and zero motivation, I'd cranked out a time that made me almost feel happy about waking up at 5am.  Did I mention the course was difficult?  Oh.

Race by the numbers:
Overall:  Top 26%
Men:  Top 41%
AG:  Top 44%

This was about what I'm used to seeing, results-wise.  I'm usually in the top quarter of a lot of races, and in the top third or so for everything else.  It skewed slower for this race, but it's also skewed higher in others, so within the margin I'm familiar.  No biggie.  I was trying to test out myself, and to see if I could hold something for more than a short distance.  It was a nice race, and I was glad I got out there.  I have to give Potomac River Running lots of credit -- they run a tight, well-oiled ship when it comes to races, compared to one organization/race I won't mention.  Hmm, actually, I will.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Francis Marion Memorial Statute

Warning.  This is a rant.  No dick jokes today.

Update:  See below for what happened at the commission meeting.

Here's the thing about dogma, and spotting people ruled by it:  it's easy to detect, it's fun to tweak, and you are NEVER wrong for calling it out.

Sometimes, I get greater pleasure calling out liberals on their own dogma, compared to conservatives, because liberals (typically) get WAY more angry over it (as if it were nonsense that they could EVER commit the same mistakes conservatives make every day).  The South Park guys have often said that liberals always get madder when they're the butt of jokes compared to conservatives, but I think it's not a guarantee.  Because, you know, nuance.

Anyway, along South Carolina Avenue on Capitol Hill DC is a little National Park called "Marion Park."  It's named after Francis Marion, a revolutionary war hero who confounded the British using hit-and-run, guerrilla tactics.  The US Army credits him as one of the reasons the Army Rangers exist today.  His nickname was "The Swamp Fox."  He's particularly venerated in South Carolina, but also in the South, as a revolutionary war hero, and is credited as much by the Smithsonian.  Early in his life, he fought a brutal war against the Cherokee, and learned a lot from their use of terrain, and natural cover.  He took those lessons with him later against the British.

I'm actually happy that people in South Carolina celebrate this guy, because (1) it's not Civil War related, and therefore we can all agree that the US winning over the British was a good thing, (2) it's not NASCAR-related, and (3) it's not some idiot opposing the teaching of evolution as some sort of Obama-plot.  American heroes came from all corners during the revolution.  They did so at great personal risk.

So, some guy in South Carolina visited the park in DC, and saw there was no statue to him, just a sign noting that it was "Marion Park."  He worked up funds to create a "Swamp Fox Memorial," in the park.  It was undertaken, and got various approvals, including a signed Executive Order from the President, as well as other administrative steps.

But wait!  Didn't ANYONE think to ask the residents of Capitol Hill?  I mean, it's a NATIONAL park, but we really ought to go check with some local folks to make sure it's ok with them first.  Sorry, what I mean is:  Barf.

Anyway, they're pissed.  Marion, a person born nearly 300 years ago, did not live his life as we enlightened folks here in the 21st Century would like for him to have lived it.  He owned slaves.  His war against the Cherokee was brutal.  And, he was, by all accounts, good at war.

That's enough for some Capitol Hill residents to ABSOLUTELY LOSE THEIR SHIT.

The opposition to this is insipid, and tries to apply 21st century morals to someone who was born in the 1700s. This is the worst kind of hyper-hysterical political correctness. George Washington owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson not only owned them, he did far . . . more with them. The Marines on Iwo Jima were no angels as they retook that island. Shall we investigate the service records of the men represented on the Marine Corps War Memorial? They were, after all, white men born in the 1920s, and I doubt they spent their spare time working at soup kitchens, snuggling puppies, or marching for equal rights for minorities. All of these individuals undoubtedly held some beliefs, and engaged in some actions that people would describe as “brutal,” and 21st century people would find abhorrent. Yet we justifiably honor them all.

That a NATIONAL park is named after Francis Marion, someone whose bona fides in helping the United States gain its independence cannot seriously be questioned. And yet now, in modern times, people have decided that it is disgraceful to even remember him, or that you're only permitted to remember him negatively.  Absurd.

This is the nanny-state thought that many "intellectuals" engage in.  If we build a statue to someone, then EVERYONE will think that person must be perfect, except for "us," the enlightened few who know better.  Barf.  My favorite memorial is to Thomas Jefferson, and yet people of COURSE discuss his slaveownership, Sally Hemmings, and that he held some racist views (he believed blacks were inferior to whites).  That's just ONE of the founders whom we celebrate.  So shove your "but if we build a statue to someone then nobody will think of him in context" crap.  Believe it or not, some people without a Master's Degree in Political Science can actually think for themselves.

First, to the people carping over the "incursion" onto Capitol Hill — Marion Park is a NATIONAL park, and therefore any resident of this country should be able to have a say over what should or shouldn’t be in the park. Being located on Capitol Hill doesn’t give local residents any special veto. It’s on South Carolina Ave, in a NATIONAL park, and therefore the person pushing for the statute is entirely justified in seeking to place it there. Many aspects of this city carry a NATIONAL identity, and a National Park is surely one of them.  Your supposed "greater" status by living on Capitol Hill doesn't impress anyone outside of the beltway, and only impresses people INSIDE the beltway when it comes to commuting time.  YOU DON'T GET SUPERIOR INPUT OVER A NATIONAL PARK BY VIRTUE OF YOUR PROXIMITY TO IT.

Next, there is a person who smugly suggested that because Hollywood softened the (awful) Mel Gibson biopic, "The Patriot," it must have given more consideration than Congress, the President, or the NPS, realizing how horrible Marion was.  To those types of folks, I say:  It must be SO cool to live in your simple world.  It might surprise you to learn that Hollywood is not about promoting morals so much as it is about promoting MONEY. They’re not all stupid. Obviously, putting out a movie in the 21st century depicting some of Marion’s actions in an 18th century WAR would have been a turn-off to enough folks, and caused enough controversy, that it would NOT MAKE MONEY. Don’t try and glom onto Hollywood as some sort of moral arbiter. They care about the bottom line.

Another person pointed out that freedmen built a nearby church, and that putting a statue of Francis Marion there would be insulting.  Again, hypocrisy and selective outrage. 
Did it occur to anyone that in DC, you have black men and women who guard, work in, and otherwise tend to memorials of people who held slaves?

Of course, many of the MOTH-posting, Eastern Market browsing crowd, will sniff and decide that I must be a Tea Partier because I’m not toeing the politically correct line. I’m sure I’ll get called racist, because that’s the best means for someone to shut down argument, if they lack a counter. But that is because they are directed by dogma, not a devotion to facts. I think I’m in good company: the U.S. District Court Judge who prevented anti-evolution “intelligent design,” advocates from pushing their anti-science was called an “activist liberal judge.” However, he was a Dubya appointee, and was plenty conservative. He just recognized dogma, irrational thought, and misplaced outrage, so he called it out, angering many people with whom he agreed on likely many other topics. So be it here.

The Smithsonian itself has declared Marion a “hero of the revolution.”

(it notes that Marion was “no saint” by modern standards and yet still credits him as a hero — go cancel your Smithsonian membership, all you Outrage Junkies!).

The US Army even credits Francis Marion as leading to the development of the US Army Rangers. But because some local residents want to complain about a NATIONAL park, the NPS should stop all efforts. I’m surprised the name/sign hasn’t been defaced yet.

Here's the thing:  It’s WORTH teaching children that the founders of this country, the people who helped bring it into being, were not perfect. But we honor those who helped found this country, despite their flaws, because this country allows those who are flawed to still flourish. We learn, we grow, and we continue. We don’t try to pretend the past didn’t happen, or that people whose actions wouldn’t pass muster NOW never did anything positive when they were alive.

Some residents of Capitol Hill want to apply modern morals to a man born almost 300 years ago. If the statue is placed, I’d be proud to explain to generations that we honor a man who helped found this country, but was no angel. Nuance is important, no matter the issue.  If you can't see that, it's because your dogma is in the way.

Update:  I went to the commission meeting.  Not a single commissioner objected to the statue, and only one, a representative of the Mayor (gently) pointed out to the statue's advocates that it might seem weird if someone tried to put a statue of Frederick Douglass in Charleston, SC (which, by the way, isn't a fair analogy, unless there was a PARK in Charleston called "Frederick Douglass Park."  Otherwise, not a single person who rose up against the park raised the modern moral canard; they just stuck to a lack of "notice."  One commissioner actually mentioned that there was an aspect of NIMBYism to their objections.