This entire site is a vanity project, because really, almost nobody reads it. And those that do probably look at one of about 3 pages. So why am I adding a section? It's my exciting running book!
This blog started out about cycling and brewing. The clever name points to both those topics, as well as ideas of a mix of news and information. It is generally what I want it to be, nothing more though probably somewhat less because I don't devote daily hours to updating the different sections. But I've been trying to catalog my life a little better and figure out how I ended up where I am, in the hopes that it will give me insight into what makes me happy and what I want to do for the next 10, 20, 50, or 250 years, depending on how medical technology pans out.
There are a lot of books out there with a similar theme. Many of these books are uninteresting and poorly written, the kinds of things you would expect from high school creative writing classes. I, unfortunately, am an avid reader, which means I dive into my share of poorly written, uninteresting books on topics that seem like they should draw you in or could turn out to be fascinating. Occasionally the topic just runs itself down before you hit the halfway point; more often the author's tone or style is sufficiently grating or self-indulging that you absolutely can and should put it down. Of course, sometimes you find a gem -- I was particularly happy to have discovered Lantern Rouge, which could easily have been an overwrought piece of garbage but turned out to be an easy-reading look at the back end of the Tour de France, with all its angels and demons and bizarre history; likewise Geronimo!, a good diversion that manages to capture the range of sensations for a cyclist doing a poorly-planned self-guided tour through Italy on a precarious mechanical horse.
It's true that a fair amount of my reading comes from the sports section, and I've gone through all the library books on cycling (except for the 20 or so about Lance Armstrong, because holy crap do I just not care about that guy). Just to prove it doesn't all feature biking or running or caber toss or whatever, see the end of this post for more decent reads from the nonfiction aisles that are not about sports, even if some of them are found near the sports section.
Unfortunately, many of these sports books are the worst offenders in the "uninteresting" pantheon, falling back on -- I won't say tired cliches because "tired cliches" is such a tired cliche -- eye-rolling meditations so worn they've turned real. They focus on a particular figure -- the author or the athlete -- but often come across as preachy or falsely meditative. Sometimes the author is writing because he or she is a well-known sports writer, perhaps a contributor to Sports Illustrated or a noted blogger; sometimes the author is writing because the subject is a successful athlete or coach telling you Just How It Is or How My Life Is Awesome or Twenty Things You Absolutely Must Do To Be Fast Even Though There's No Way A Person With Less Than Six Hours A Day To Devote To These Activities Can Possibly Fit Them In. But almost uniformly, these clumsy reads imply that there's transcendence, that the author has discovered or unlocked the secret to happiness and if only he or she would write it down for you, otherwise incapable reader, you too could have the insights into how running or biking or mountain climbing like this person over here will change your life. There's almost always a string of inspirational cheerleader paragraphs saying "You can do it too!" but shaking the pompoms entirely too close to your face.
Not to say that all of these are terrible accounts, but I'm more intrigued by the idea of telling you that you've got limits, that every place you run or bike isn't so amazing just because you ran or biked there, that the athlete you hold in awe is probably a lot closer to you than you think no matter what the profile of their amazing life says, and that even though pros and people with tons of money use scientific tools to help them train, those tools aren't going to make you a better person. Most of what we get from running and cycling -- and getting better at running and cycling -- is (a) time alone to think; (b) a sense of accomplishment; and (c) athletic euphoria. Sorry kids, there are limits to these things.
But that doesn't answer the "What the hell is up with the book?" question. If there's so much drivel, why drivel more? Eh, I just kind of did, on my own, and now I've got a document with no home. I also think I'm a better writer than about 90% of the authors who've gotten these books published, which makes me wonder how they managed to sucker someone into taking their manuscript, or whether the publishing houses devoted more than about 20 minutes to editing. So if you'll suffer each day's or week's entry, maybe it will give you a smile for a couple seconds, or a good excuse to take a break from counting how many pallets of frozen hamburgers showed up at the warehouse this morning.
I've written this from the perspective of a person who did well -- and continues to do well -- athletically. But I'm not a professional, I'm not so devoted to running that every year I'll turn my life upside-down to do a 20-miler to close out Week 12 of my training program because the calendar says I should. Have I done that? Yes. Will I do it in the future? Maybe. Does that make me a good person, or a better person than someone who doesn't? Nope. (To find out why, read on!)
I've been well-known in various places as an athlete. If you ask my acquaintances, they'll probably tell you I'm a runner or a cyclist, but they might also call me a brewer or a rocket scientist. Not many people know that I'm still a sports writer (shh! it's a secret!) We're all a lot of things to a lot of people, and the subgenre of athletic endeavor writing usually tells us we're all athletes-in-waiting, or if we haven't discovered the meaning of life, the universe, and most other things through athletics, maybe we just haven't looked hard enough. I don't aspire to bring you to this position, though I also understand the appeal.
What will follow in this section's series of posts is my story of running, in which I, Some Guy With A Website, go from fat kid to skinny kid to kid that climbs on rocks. This will hopefully entertain in a way that cheery swill about how athletics bares the great mysteries of nature and unlocks our hidden potential and brings us closer to the true soul of the universe (or whatever schlock typically shows up in these contexts) falls flat/induces eyerolls/makes you want to kick the author (depending on how bad the writing is or what kind of mood you're in). Sure, I'll talk about how running has changed me, because it has. And sure, I'll inflate a lot of achievements and insult the reader, because I can. But don't think I don't love you, reader, because a writer without a reader is but a wisp of cloud behind a thunderstorm. (Or some other simile.)
In conclusion, not boring! (But do feel free to critique my style and content.)
Some entertaining reading that isn't sports:
Two Years Before the Mast
Looking for a Ship
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
The Barefoot Bandit
North Pole, South Pole: The Epic Quest to Solve the Great Mystery of Earth's Magnetism
Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes
Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City
My Korean Deli
The Napolean of Crime