Why run?

I'm sure we've all been asked this at one time or another. Some will answer in practical terms - to lose weight, for general fitness, to see how hard we can push ourselves. Some will wax philosophically - to appreciate the aesthetics of movement, to dance to the melody of breath, to commune directly with Nature. Bunk, all bunk. Because no matter how functionally or poetically we try to obfuscate the truth, we all run to win stuff.
Speaking only for myself, as one with the natural athletic acumen of a leatherleaf slug, world record bonuses and age group trophies are beyond reach. So for next year, I have decided to create the Sea Bass Running Club Awards, the Bassies, to be doled out on December 31st, 2009. The winners will be chosen by me and any Sea Bass members with the patience to put up with my drivel over dinner a year from now. All decisions will be final, and all dissent will be quelled immediately and mocked mercilessly - hey, my blog, my rules.
Below is a list of the Bassies to be presented, and the minimum criteria required to earn each award. Winners will receive not only the plaudits of the throng, but a unique, frameable certificate, handmade by an eight year old Muslim child. These Bassies are yours for the taking, so plan your 2009 accordingly.
The Arctic Char, presented to those foolhardy runners who brave temperatures and windchill in excess of -30 degrees Celsius, for a minimum sixty minute run.
Turbot-charged, presented to the SBRC member who improves a previously documented Personal Best time by the highest percentage.
The Guppy, to honour the accomplishments of our youngest SBRC members, be it in an organized race, some laps around the couch, or a frenetic dash to the kitchen to fetch Uncle Lee a cola.
The Red Herring, presented to those competing in an organized event that has nothing to do with running. Preference will be given to anything profoundly non-athletic, such as billiards, poker, or Dungeons and Dragons.
The Lamprey, presented to the SBRC member who suffers the most spectacular fall. Corroboration ex post facto in the form of a doctor's note, a piece of the ensuing scab, or a full-speed reenactment on YouTube is necessary.
The Australian Lungfish, presented to the SBRC member who either completes a running event at more than 1000m altitude, or completes a running event Down Under and throws some shrimp on the bahbie.
The Santiago, presented to any member with a slower time in an organized running event than the oldest registered participant.
The Fugu, presented in recognition of a significant running-related injury, in which the injured joint/tendon/muscle/bone swells to at least twice its normal size.
The Nemo, presented to a SBRC member in such dire need of attention that said member will complete an organized running event in costume or disguise. Note: dressing as a clown or clownfish will be disallowed on the basis of literalness.
Runnin' for the Halibut, our Outreach award, presented to the SBRC member best able to cajole, threaten, blackmail, or downright scam new members into Sea Bass membership.
Heart and Sole, presented to the member best able to incorporate philanthropism into their running achievements. Note: donating money to one's own post-run donut fund, while admirable and standard practice, will be disallowed in consideration for this award.
The Ace of Bass, presented to a SBRC member who meets any two of the following:
1. Place a Top 20 Single on the Swedish Billboard Techno or Dance Chart
2. Compete in at least five certified and sanctioned running events
3. Legally change one's given name to Ace
4. Set a PB in any certified or sanctioned running event



With a preliminary race report just in, congratulations to Ali on completing what must be her zillionth marathon this year, and doing herself and Sea Bass proud with another great time.
Hey Ali, is it alright if I put your picture on the blog?


The alpha and the omega

My first post here may be my final post of the year. After reading the blogs of many other sloggin' bloggers, I have decided that keeping a running journal online will help keep me on track to achieve my ultrarunning goals in 2009 and beyond. And since I will not be running anymore in 2008, due to an Achilles tendon that is a little bit vexed with me, I have decided to use my time to prepare for what I hope to be an exceptional next year.

2008 had its share of great runs and good runs, memorable moments and enforced downtime. The always incredible and metronomic Deanna and I ran two marathons in Korea, our adopted homeland, and I managed to lower my PB to 3:35. I also ran a 1:37 half, actually the first half of the Seoul Marathon in March, and dipped just below 1:31 on a treadmill half a few weeks ago. In my final few speed workouts for the double-marathon attempt I had been steeling myself for, meant to be held on the 13th of this month, I ran a 31:30 5-miler, then a 53 minute 8-miler. As Ego and Folly had my ear, as they are wont to do, it didn't occur to me that these two workouts, sandwiching a hill session, should be more suitably spaced apart. Hence the aforementioned angry Achilles.

2008 saw us running our usual section of the mighty Han River, on the paths and beaches of Saipan, on the trails of a number of Seoul's urban mountain parks, and along the stream in beautiful Kyoto, Japan. We had the good fortune to weasel our way behind the scenes of the World 24 Hour Championships, held this year a short subway ride from our home. We were also able to meet Dean Karnazes there, who despite a frenetic travelling schedule and amassing an unbelievable list of accomplishments, remains extremely modest and affable. The downside of that meeting, however, is a newfound addiction to chocolate covered espresso beans.

This year also saw a number of our friends take up running for the first time. Undaunted by the rigorous induction criteria for a lifetime membership in the Sea Bass Running Club (one must run, at least once, with one or more current Sea Bass members, and one must purchase at least one beverage for that current Sea Bass member after that one run), Mike, Angie, Altay, and Burcu have swelled the numbers of the Far East Chapter. Old Sea Bass members have had great success this year, with Brian blazing his way through the Arizona dunes, Chris and Ali completing a second Ironman Canada, and Ali poised this weekend to earn her Boston qualifying time in Sacramento. Ideally then, this blog will also serve as de facto compendium of Sea Bass race reports and tales of glory.

As Deanna and I plan our holidays and plot some of our running goals for 2009, all of which is constantly in flux, a few things remain constant for me. In 2009, I hope to achieve the following five things, while also improving my flexibility and staying injury-free: run a sub-88 minute half; better my marathon PB; run a 100k race; have an 80 mile training week; and have a 250 mile training month. And I'll record it here.