Sunday, December 30, 2007

Marathon Woman

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon. Little did she know, women were not supposed to enter the Boston Marathon, a belief brought home to her when Jock Semple, the race's organizer tried to knock her over and take the number off of her, iconically captured in a series of AP photos.

Her book, Marathon Woman, is a study leading up to that day, and the revolution that followed. It is interesting to note, in this day and age of instant celebrity, that after "the incident" Kathrine Switzer managed to fade back into relative anonymity.

But we runners can rarely leave things alone, and Boston kept gnawing at her, as did the larger picture of women's running, and the grand picture of women's sports. Her book chronicles her journey through a period of time, not that distant, when women had few sporting opportunities and the prevailing belief was that long-distance running just might damage the baby-maker (my phrase, not hers). Switzer fought to develop women's only running events to empower women across the world, eventually leading to the first women's marathon in the 1984 games. Improbably, Switzer called the race as an analyst for ABC that day, as Joan Benoit ran into the history books.

Kathrine Switzer's story is amazing, her grit and resilience is admirable and the story she weaves, through the ins and outs of the women's liberation movement, the empowering of women through sport, and the revolution of which she was both participant and leader, is a riveting read.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas...

This is my Christmas Concert:

This one not for the video, but I think her voice is beautiful:

Friday, December 21, 2007

What I want for Christmas!

My friend Eric sent me this. I'm sure Mrs. Fish will be okay with us going and trying it out.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quote of the Year....

The Yale Book of Quotations came up with this year's list of memorable quotes, and this year's big winner, if you want to call it that, was, "Don't tase me, BRO!" the words shouted by a University of Florida student, moments before the security personel who were dragging him out of a John Kerry event decided to go "golf ball" on him and do the exact opposite of what he was begging of them. Of course they tased him. He was being disruptive, and it looked like the only way to quiet him down was to jolt him with 50,000 volts. And of course, the whole thing was captured and posted on youtube...

....and moments later, the inevitable spoofs began. To wit:

A close second in this year's quotes was Miss South Carolina, which really needs no spoof...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The say it's...

I had/am having an excellent birthday. I got loved up by my wife and daughter yesterday. I've been fighting a cold and spent most of my "day off" closing a deal, so I was a little bummed. They decided to give me an early birthday so they brought out my gifts. I got a triathlon mouse pad because they thought it would be good for work, so my coworkers could know a little something about me. I got a cycling jersey Chirtmas tree ornament, because we get ornaments that mean something to us. Extra credit--there's a bulge in the middle back pocket where my musette bag is.

The coupe de grace is the inner tubes, for snow tubing. Mrs. Fish and Little Fish thought it would be great fun, and the kid in me absolutely agrees. And, we have a blizzard on the way this weekend--COME ON SNOW!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Review

I just finished reading The Hard Way by Mark Jenkins. Jenkins has written for a lot of magazines, including Outside. This is a collection of his adventures as he travels the world, climbing mountains known and unknown, kayaking through Turkey, and making friends along the way. But he also speaks, in his spare but unblinking narratives, of something deeper.

There is a need in men, in some cases long-dormant, to seek out and live adventure. Jenkins does just that, but also serves to remind us that it is an essential part of who we are. He writes of his friend, John, as they are thinking about an adventure together:
I was beginning to fear for John, and lately, for myself. The integument of everyday life seemed to have begun to harden. We were both working too much. john was struggling to keep a small magazine alive; I was battling to finish a book that had lost its bearings. We'd call each other at midnight, still in our offices--appalling for a couple of tree bums who once lived out of a VW van and survived on tins of sardines. John, in particular, was in trouble. He'd spent so much time trying to build a business he was in danger of becoming one more Cubicle man, ass-wedged between a green screen and four white walls.

It's hard not to see some of myself in this. Later, he writes about a competition he has with his brothers, where they compete to do the most pull ups. As they approach middle age, the contest is just as heated as it was the day they invented it, shortly after college. Why pull ups? Jenkins writes...
You seldom see anyone in a weight room on the pullup bar. Pullups are too hard. They aren't like pushups. With pushups, half your weight is still on your feet. And they aren't anything like most of the arm exercises you can do with machines, where all your weight is on your ass. All those machines are just crutches. They're designed to make working out easier. Massive muscles mean nothing. The only real measure of strength is in contrast to your weight.

To do a pullup, you must lift the entire weight of your body off the ground. It is as if you have raised your arms in jubilation and then must bring your body up with your spirit. It is an angelic act, a strenuous act. It goes against gravity. Against the will of the earth.

Because pullups are difficult, over the years it's easy to get lazy. Easy to get heavy. Life and beer and kids conspire....

I cannot recommend this book highly enough for the men on your list...or for your yourself.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

So I got to wondering why God appeared to the shepherds? I mean, you have all these other cats running around who were imminently more qualified to receive the news that God was on Earth, right? Why not some king, who could tell everyone right away that the Messiah was here and it was go time? For that matter, what about the inn keeper? It his casa where the baby Jesus is born, so he's got right of first refusal, no? And then you have the local religious leaders, who could sway the people and let them know. Heck, you have entire cities of people going home to get "censusized"--why not them? Then they could go back to their home towns and tell EVERYONE!

Then I started thinking. The kings were powerful and influential people, but they were much too busy, and probably too focused on themselves to think about God. I mean, come on, they have kingdom's to rule...surely someone else can think about babies and that stuff...

In the same way, the inn-keeper was probably too busy. This guy has customers to take care of, he's got meals to fix, rooms to get ready, bills to's a wonder he had time to say, "NO ROOM!" Let's face it: Christmas can be a busy time.

The religious leaders would have never understood a baby as the Messiah. They thought he was going to be a King, riding out of the sun like Jack Jack Bauer on a nuclear Apocalypse to sweep away the Romans and anyone else who bugged them. There is no way they would have accepted a stinky baby in a water trough. Thirty years and countless miracles later, they still didn't get it. Sometimes, Christmas is misunderstood.

So what about all of those townspeople. They had parties to go to, dinners to enjoy and gifts to open. They saw this time as a giant celebration, and were not looking for a baby in a manger.

So, I think God’s angels appeared before the shepherds because, unlike everyone else in the entire town of Bethlehem, they were watching, waiting, and ready and willing to respond.

It seems to me a lot of people missed the miracle of seeing the Christ child because they were too focused on themselves, too busy, too sure they know who the Messiah is and what He would be like, or too busy going to parties and dinners and opening gifts.

When I looked closer, I saw the shepherds did exactly what God wanted them to do, which was spread the good news that Jesus was born. There are people who believe that the Old French word, Nouvelle is translated into English as Good News. Over 400 years ago, someone wrote a song about the very first Good News, when the angels came to earth and declared to a bunch of lowly shepherds that God’s son was among us. Except, we don’t call it Nouvelle anymore. We remember it as the First Noel, the FIRST GOOD NEWS.

The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I went for a run this morning. Finally. I watched the IronMan in Hawaii yesterday on tape delay and was, once again, inspired. While Chris McCormack was favored by many to win the race, especially after Stadler dropped out due to a stomach bug, the women's race was quite the surprise. Christie Wellington came out of nowhere to win the women's race, and Sam McGlone, one of my favorites, finished second. My favorite part of the race is the story of the everyday people who make it to the Big Race, which I got to share with Little Fish this year.

Anyway, all that to say I was a little more motivated when I woke up this morning. It was cold but not bitterly so. Mrs. Fish stole my favorite running hat, so I had to grab something out of the bin. I ran in my French beret. It serves me right, I suppose. If I had been wearing it to run three or four times a week, the only time she would pick it up would be to throw it into the laundry hamper.

The run was brisk, a 3.3 mile affair over my usual route, and I felt pretty good. Also, there was no sign of Teh Carnivorous Bunniez. I'm hoping they are hibernating...but we know better.

It is expected to snow here (Central PA) today. I'm sure that will give me another opportunity to get outside and exercise.