An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Whining, salty water, and some humor

My wife and I timed an event on Saturday in Fall City, WA. A small-town that appears to have grown up a bit, there were about 560 participants between the 5K and 10K, on a day that showed close to continuous light rain. Because of street-fair set-up, and not having the road closed, along with the placement of the start/finish line, we had all of 25 minutes to set up the area for the race. Okay, we got that done... I saw one Vibram-wearer, and one barefooter out there.

I've always thought that runners were a hardy bunch. I mean, we go out and slog out the miles to train, sometimes it's a cathartic thing. But I remember way back when (maybe, what, 10-15 years ago?) where you showed up, there was a chalked line on the road, some approximate distance that was convenient around a few roads, sometimes even accurately measured, you ran your butt off, and the first guy across the line was the winner, the next was second, then third, etc... until every one was done. The last person to finish usually got the loudest cheers. Top-3 awards would be announced at some point, and if you weren't in there, you often didn't know where you finished -- "complete results" was quite a luxury, and if you wanted your time, well, most of us had stop-watches on our wrists (many the ever-present Timex Ironman).

Now we've got electronics, RFID, and laptops. There's still a manual back-up system, but that does only one thing -- take down your race number as you cross the finish line, so that we can get a finish order. The time isn't all that accurate.

But what the heck? People want to know their time and place within seconds of crossing the finish line. People whine that their pace isn't based on their "chip time". People will cross the line and say "Oh, I registered for the 10K but decided to run the 5K, can you move me over to those results?"

The parade of requests and whining will sometimes continue for days...

Now I'm all for technology making things easier. It would seem that all it's done here is raise people's expectations. We want our popcorn NOWDAMMIT! and our race results sooner. I'm just amazed that a race can post complete (and I mean COMPLETE) results by 2pm for a race that finished at 10.

I guess my own modest proposal for racing is this: Let's get back to some basics. We can still use the electronics -- I'm not one of those "get off my lawn" types that wants to see the return of the horse and buggy. But how about this -- your official time (for results) starts when gun goes off, and if you're concerned about it, want to be competitive, think you're vying for overall or AG top placings, get to the damn front at the start! We can still provide you with a chip time, for people that are one- or two-minutes back from the start line, so you'll know what your actual time for the distance is, but that just for your own personal gratification. Have fun with it. Figure out your own pace (it's not that hard, really, and you've probably got a Garmin that's giving you real-time at-the-moment pace and your overall pace anyway). If you're really good, maybe you can brag about how your time was faster than the overall winner. Shoulda lined up in front, bucko.

Let's stop the insanity and whining. Okay?

Yesterday was Fathers' Day. I had a great day with my wife and daughter.

One of the things we did was go to the Colman Pool in Seattle (near the Fauntleroy Ferry terminal) for some family swim time. Admission was only $2 per person.

This was my first time in a salt-water pool. I've been in the ocean (Pacific) and Puget Sound, but this was my first time ever in HEATED salty water. In fact, I think it was my first time ever in a heated outdoor pool of any kind -- they've always been unheated (which kind of makes outdoor pools a rarity in western Washington). It was kind of a strange feeling. Being in the water wasn't too bad. Getting out? Brrrr.... Air temps were maybe low-60's with a good breeze going. Yeah, chilly.

I didn't notice better buoyancy, but then again we weren't swimming laps. We played around for about 90 minutes, then got out for the walk back up to the car. Fun time.

On the humor side, I'll test out my comedic writing. Be kind...

So we're driving up to the race site on Saturday morning and I said something that kind of led to a "that would make a great blond joke" moment...

So this blond walks into the electronics shop, places a bag on the counter and says she wants to return a video game.

"I just don't think it's safe to be playing a video game in the car, and besides, there's no way to win! No matter what I do, I can't get ahead of it. The darn thing seems to KNOW every move I make before I make it! It's frustrating. I want my money back."

And then she pulls the GPS unit out of the bag...

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