Posts Tagged ‘The Last Pick – book review’

Sunday, 28 March, I turned 55.
Saturday, 27 March, I finished jogging 55 miles for the week.  This is the most I’ve ever jogged in one seven day time span.  A little while back, I read a book titled:  “The Last Pick” (see blog Another Book, Another Jog from 24 Jan. 2010).  In it, the author said he did this every year (run his age), but lately, he’d changed from a daily goal to a weekly goal and he was thinking of making it a two weekly goal.  At the time, I thought it was a bit silly, but I guess it kicked around in the back of my mind enough that I thought I’d try it myself.
Anyway, I did it.
It’s a bit funny.  At first it seemed like a tremendous goal / achievement.  I wasn’t sure I’d complete it because it meant I would have to average eight miles a day for seven days.  I’ve rarely run any distances for seven days, so that, in itself, would be an achievement.
By the Wednesday, I had also done a few extra minutes here and there to add up to over an hour cushion.  I did 4 hrs 40 min (16 miles) on Thursday and was another full day ahead of schedule.  I took Friday off and on Saturday I wrapped it up with the final two hours and twenty minutes.  I believe I did an extra hour and a half (about 5 miles) for the week, but I was just happy to reach the goal comfortably.
For some reason, I thought it would “mean” more to me to finish it.  When I still had about an hour to go on my last day, it occurred to me this was a personal goal and the “meaning” if there ever was one, was in the doing it, not in the finishing it.  Don’t misunderstand, it felt good to complete it – to meet the objective – but the value was in each individual step, not in the last one.
A couple of weeks ago (around 12 March) I completed reading “Running & Being” by Dr. George Sheehan.  Dr. Sheehan is widely considered one of the philosopher kings of running in the US (if not the world).  The book was extremely philosophical and very well written.  It also was full of quotes – another thing I love to read.  It was also – at times – extremely boring.  A good portion of the book was devoted to excusing his personal idiosyncrasies as characteristics of ALL runners.  He was anti-social, so all distance runners must be anti-social.  He was slender / slight, so all runners must be slender / slight.  He was a thinker and a reader, so all runners must be thinkers and readers.  ETC…
Having said all this, there was still much in the book that I found worth considering.  For example, there are six simple exercises for stretching.  I’m not a big fan of stretching, particularly pre-run, but I do think flexibility has merit and his comments were interesting.  Even here though, I found myself in some disagreement.  His main point is that you are not stretching for flexibility, but to counter the over-development of the body caused by the running you do.
Another example of an interesting idea is his firm conviction that you can over-train.  I really waiver over this myself.  On the one hand, I believe that most things are best in moderation.  On the other hand, if you love something, are you really “training”.  I think if you are running in “training / race” mode, that is, trying to better your time or distance, then yes, you can over-train.  But if you are running for the love of running and going below your race levels, you are probably not able to over-train.  I strongly agree with him that a day off doesn’t hurt anything but your ego.
All in all, the book is worth reading and thinking about, but if I had it to do over, I’d check the book out of the library, not buy it.
Another book I just finished (Sunday, 28 March 2010) is titled:  “Born To Run” and written by Christopher McDougall.  The book is mainly a story about a race between some elite ultra-distance runners from the US who run against / with some Mexican-Indians.  The Indians are from the tribe of the Tarahumara located in the Copper Canyons of Mexico.  The Tarahumara are also called the Rarámuri Indians.  On two subtler levels it is about the evolution of man as a hunting species and the mass-marketing of a product which seems to do little help the buyer and everything to increase bottom-line of the companies making the product – namely, running shoes.
The fundamental question the author starts with is why does it hurt to run?  The answer is because he wears running shoes.  The clues lead from doctors (who want to operate and who advise to stop running), to insight (why can some runners run forever and why is the injury rate among runners so high – despite all our best technology over the last 40 years), to science (there is NO proof running shoes improve time or prevent injuries – AT ALL), to a tribe of Indians in Mexico living a simple life style and who love to run.
The story interweaves interesting characters and biology / anthropology to explain how we, as a species, came to dominate the world.  The characters (the racers and the scientists) all jump off the page and capture the reader’s imagination.  The science is as unprovable as almost all of evolutionary thought, but it still rings true.
The bottom-line is while I still do not consider myself to be a runner, I’m beginning to think that maybe I could be…   If I am (or turn out to be), it’ll be the McDougall runner not the Sheehan runner.
Several weeks ago I had one of those “pure” running experiences.  A few days later, I was describing it to the lady who runs our gym at work and she asked me if it made me feel like a wild animal just running free.  I said it did, but as I thought about my answer over the next few weeks, I thought:  “No. It made me feel like a predator.”  While reading this book, I had an epiphany: this is why I felt like a predator, because I have two million years of genes which say I am.
On to other topics…  Health care reform passed in Congress and has been signed into law by the President!  It’s nowhere near what was needed (single payer, single source), but it is a first step in the right direction.
Now President Obama needs to quickly move on to jobs and the economy.  There are only seven months until the mid-term elections and the Democrats need to show progress on the economy to have a chance of holding back the tide of Independent voters swinging back to the Republican party.  I feel fairly confident we’ll retain both houses because I think the real danger is the loss of the House and we need to lose over 25 seats to give it back.  I believe we could lose 20, but I don’t expect it to go that badly that we lose 25 to 28 seats.
On the Senate side, who cares since we don’t have the super-majority (60 votes) to over-ride the filibuster, there’s not much difference between 51 and 59 votes.
On the family side, Sarah has returned from her band trip to Disneyland and Rebecca has gone back to UCLA after her spring break (she came home for a week’s visit).  James was out jogging with me several times last week and I really enjoyed that.  It made the time go a lot faster.
On This Day In:
2022 What You Know
2021 Some Doctors Are Better Than Others
2020 A Liar As President Corrupts Us
2019 Is It Dark And Quiet For You?
2018 Undeniable Requirement
2017 Orange Corrosion
2016 Both Particle And Wave
2015 Deep In Debt
2014 The Difference
2013 My Heart Is Described
2012 Keen To Be Alone
2011 The Ideal Business…
2010 55

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This week’s book was “The Last Pick” by David J. McGillivray (with Linda Glass Fechter) and was published in 2006.  It’s the autobiographical story of Mr. McGillivray who grew up to be the race director of the Boston Marathon.  He was also the “technical director” from 1988-2001.  Basically, he grew up to be short (5ft 3 in) and this profoundly affected his life and his attitude about his life.  Because he was so short, few believed in his athletic ability and hence he was always “the last pick”.
As a young man, he goes on to become an accomplished runner in high school and college and then he becomes one the first hand-full of people to run across the continental U.S. (roughly 3,400 miles).  His story is an interesting one, but I got tired of hearing about his being short.  He seems to have to mention it every 10 pages.  Aside from this (minor) shortcoming (pun intended), the story is a good, heartwarming tale and the author comes across as a very good man.
One thing I found interesting was there was no mention of the WS100.  Considering it’s supposed to be one the oldest and most prestigious ultra runs, I thought it would at least rate a reference.  I guess when you’ve run 3,400 miles in 80 days, 100 in 24 Hrs is no big deal.
I did my own little “ultra” last night – my third 4 hour run.  This one seemed about as hard as the second.  I’m trying my new jogging technique – kind of like the “POSE” method, but not quite.  I was not able to stay on my mid-to-front foot for the whole jog.  I got two in, and then had to alternate between my traditional flat-footed double-time and the new “on your toes” method.  I’m also trying to pay extra attention to my hydration.  I’m trying to force myself to drink ten full swallows of water after each hour.  I’m not sure it it’s making any difference, but I’ll have to drink when I’m out on the WS100, so I’m trying to get used to it.
This was my third 4 hour jog, and I’m estimating I’m going about 14 miles for each so I’ve done the equivalent of one and a half marathons.  When you throw in my other days, it means I’m able to do about one full marathon each week.
The jogging on my toes is really making a big difference in my recovery time.  I feel like I’m hardly hurting at all after the jog or the next day.  I was quite sore after most of my long sessions doing my regular style.  Hopefully, as my calves get stronger, I’ll be able to ween myself off of the old method.
I still haven’t got the “running” part of the new method down yet.  I know, the POSE falling forward / lean method doesn’t work for me, so I’m playing with various things when I’m doing my intervals.
I got an email from Bec saying she’s now on Skype.  I’ve set it up on my own Netbook but I was not able to reach her.  I was able to chat with my brother, Sean.
Work has eased a little this week.  I didn’t feel like I had to work today (Saturday) to keep up.  I was able to get the car serviced and go treat myself to a new pair of running shoes.
The diet is still going – about 110 days now.  I was down to 298 as of last Tuesday.  I’m not on target to get to 270 by my birthday, but I’ll be in the ball park.  The main thing is that I feel great.
No changes on the library front.  I met a guy who seems like an ideal student for me, but they tell me there are others who’ve been in the queue longer and I still need to train on the Wilson Reading method before I would be able to handle someone.  Anyway, the computer lab is still fun and interesting.  We’ll see…
On This Day In:
2022 By Any Other Name (Or Description)
2021 Democracy, Pandemic, Economy And Climate Change
Heaven Is…
2020 Hoping For #46 In January 2021
2019 Interesting, But Not Fascinating
But Try To Eat The Low-Hanging First
2018 Me, Too
2017 Apt Enough?
2016 Now Or Ever
21, Pause, Restart
2015 I Am Shocked, Sir, Shocked…
Lucy & FSND-2
2014 Less Difficult
2013 The Spirit Of Liberty
2012 The Essential Freedom Of Aloneness
2011 A Problem Of Scale
Fred Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
2010 Another Book, Another Jog…

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