04 April 2011

Mendon Ponds 15k Race Report And The Friday Top Five

Okay... I know what you're all thinking. Where the hell have I been?!

As some of my teammates still in college know, the end of the semester can be a real pinch. It is also an incredibly busy time for the professors. I mean, I have to think of a bunch of tedious, time-consuming assignments to make my student's lives hell. It's not easy. Trust me. 

I ran the Mendon Ponds 15k yesterday. I was a little concerned about the race. The week before last, I only put in two days of training. I had a pretty decent swim on Monday and then started my bike workout Tuesday evening at 9:00 p.m. Yup, I was riding until 10:30 p.m. Lovely. That was apparently just enough to send my immune system into a tailspin. I did zero running that week. Zero. By Sunday, I felt a little better and put in a nice ten mile run with Coach Mary and a few of her athletes. 

Mendon Ponds is hilly—really hilly. Luckily, I felt pretty decent. I was just so happy to be out there running with the sun shining that I barely noticed that I was putting in a pretty decent effort. I was happy with my 1:16:08 (8:10) pace. A ouple of times during the race I got a little lazy running down one of the big hills after working hard to get up that I allowed my foot to cross over and scrape my opposite ankle. It stung a little, but I really did not think anything of it until I looked down after the race and saw this:

Lovely, eh?
Who knew sneakers at high velocities could become a dangerous weapon?

Last night, I sat up writing this post and attempted to upload my Garmin data. Where are you Garmin data?!  Ugh. I have to call Garmin today and figure out where it went and why my watch suddenly stopped communicating with my computer. Curse you technology!

I know I missed last week. I will try to catch up this week with the Friday Top Five. 

The Friday Top Five: My Five Favorite Books

1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: This was a game changer for me on so many levels. I read this book again while finishing my dissertation and it reaffirmed the fact—for me—that I can argue a ham sandwich if I need to. I think this text should be passed out at birth for everyone to read before their eighteenth birthday. It discusses the classical/romantic divide, and subjectivity and objectivity in aesthetics. I feel so strongly that this is a book that everyone should read, that I have actually purchased copies of this text for friends and colleagues. 

The book resonates for me on a different level as well. About a year before my father passed, I lent him my copy of the book and asked him if he would read it. My father and I never really talked about books, music, or aesthetics. He had very little understanding of my world, and I had even less of his.  I am a composer and musician and my father was a tool maker. For years, we would have conversations about the sole common denominator between us: the New York Yankees. 

My father read the book, and as he was reading it, we had some of the most beautiful conversations that I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

2. Harold and the Purple Crayon: I read this book for the first time when I read it to my son Luca. Children are funny about books. They could read the same ones over and over and not get bored of them. Oddly, I never got tired of reading this book either. The book ends with Harold drawing his sheets over his bed (literally with his purple crayon), and then falling asleep. 

3. Born to Run: Oddly enough, I am a huge fan of the Springsteen album released back in 1975 by the same name. For me, Born to Run was important in in validating the important fact that humans are made to move. The author—Christopher McDougall—goes to great lengths discussing the historical and physiological evidence to prove that human beings are indeed running animals. McDougall somehow manages to write a concise narrative addressing the commodity factor of running shoe sales, anthropological study of the run, and an ongoing narrative about the Tarahumara Indians of the Sierra Madre's in Mexico. 

4. Morton Feldman Says: There have been a lot of important books relating to composers, the craft of composition, the discussion of aesthetics, form and process. I have read a lot of them. None of them were as profoundly important in shaping my philosophy of composition as this collection of interviews and essays with the American iconic composer, Morton Feldman. Perhaps some of his contemporaries—John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez (to name a few) enjoyed more validation as composers in their lifetime, but I find Feldman's philosophy on music to be the most refreshing and post-modern. He freely admitted that there were times when he looked back after finishing a work that he had no idea how he created it. He could not speak about the large-scale form, or the collection of pitches and timbre he used from the instruments. He worked solely by intuition. The important thing I took away from this is that I do not have to always answer how or why I create my art—it just is. 

5. The Little Engine that Could: A classic. There are still times when I am out there on a long run that I remember that book. It is a story told in many longer —and not as well-conceived narratives—about the power of the "human" spirit and the drive to continue in the face of insurmountable odds. 

Training is going pretty well. Coach Mary said that my swim test time improved, although I am hardly buying it. 

Okay, more soon. Train Smart!

"Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit."