Totals for the Week Ending 3.22.2015

Run Miles for the week: 18.5 in 3:04:48
Run Miles for the year: 321.8
Projected total miles for the year: n/a
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles n/a
Run Streak: 0
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: 114
Prospect Park loops for the week: 3
Prospect Park loops for the year: 18
Bike Miles for the week: 2.5 in 16:31
Bike Miles for the year 2.5
Projected total bike miles n/a
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 1k bike miles n/a
Swim Meters for the week: 500 in 20:00
Total Swim Meters for the year: 500
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~3:45
Average Weight 180
Books Finished: 0
Books by Women 0
Total books for the year 9
Total books by women 4
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 44%
Books per week to reach 52 1.03

Notes: The problem is evident. I have a good week, then a bad week, then a good week. Time (really time) to build good week on top of good week. At least I got onto the bike and into the pool. That’s something, right?

 

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Totals for the Week Ending 3.15.2015

Run Miles for the week: 37.4 in 5:53:37
Run Miles for the year: 303.3
Projected total miles for the year: 1476.1
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 41.3/5.9
Run Streak: 6 (6.2/37.4)
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 2
Days until I beat my old run streak: 108
Prospect Park loops for the week: 2
Prospect Park loops for the year: 13
Bike Miles for the week: 0
Bike Miles for the year 0
Projected total bike miles 0
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 1k bike miles 23.6/3.4
Swim Meters for the week: 0
Total Swim Meters for the year: 0
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~6:00
Average Weight 180
Books Finished: 2( Critique of Criminal Reason, Michael Gregorio; Baltimore Blues, Laura Lippman)
Books by Women 1
Total books for the year 9
Total books by women 4
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 44%
Books per week to reach 52 1.03
Milo posts for the week 3
Milo posts for the year 29

Notes: A good week with some consistency (though not enough) and a decent effort on a 20 mile long run. I feel like things are starting to come together with my running again. Now its time to get on the bike.

 

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Friday Video: The 1991 Ironman world Championships

Some dude on youtube has posted a bunch of old videos of NBC’s coverage of the Ironman world championships in Kona. Being a bit obsessive, I’ve started watching them in order during my Wednesday night treadmill tempo runs. Here’s the 1991 edition with Mark Allen, Paula Newby Fraiser and John Tesh narrating!

1991 was smack in the middle of Allen and Newby-Fraiser’s dominance of the sport, making this not much of a race by halfway through the run. Still, its fascinating to look back at the steel bikes and lack of wetsuits. So much has changed, yet the distance, and the challenge of finishing it, has stayed the same.

 

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Interesting Gers: Jamaica Kincaid

This week’s interesting ger is Jamaica Kincaid, African American novelist, big time gardener, and convert to Judaism.

Kincaid, who is probably most famous for her novels Lucy and Annie John, hasn’t spoken much in public about her conversion. I read a number of pieces by Kincaid in college, but never once heard she was Jewish until I started doing research for this project.  It seems to be a personal issue for her and she’s been quoted as saying “I don’t know why, but I do feel that God is a private issue.”

I believe, like Martha Nussbaum, Kincaid’s conversion arose because of her marriage to a born Jew, in this case, Allen Shawn (of the famous in Manhattan Shawn family), but I could be wrong.

Though Shawn and Kincaid have divorced, Kincaid is still active in her Reconstructionist Shul in Vermont, reading her work at various services. Somehow it seems fitting that a woman who has had a life as interesting as Kincaid’s finds herself at home in a congregation which has an interesting history of its own.

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Totals for the Week Ending 3-8-2015

Run Miles for the week: 29.8 in 4:53:42
Run Miles for the year: 265,9
Projected total miles for the year: 1427.3
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 41.2/5.9
Run Streak: 2 (10.4/20.8)
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: 112
Prospect Park loops for the week: 1
Prospect Park loops for the year: 11
Bike Miles for the week: 0
Bike Miles for the year 0
Projected total bike miles 0
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 1k bike miles 23.6/3.4
Swim Meters for the week: 0
Total Swim Meters for the year: 0
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~5:00
Average Weight 181
Books Finished: 1 (Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed)
Books by Women 1
Total books for the year 7
Total books by women 3
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 42%
Books per week to reach 52 1.06
Movies watched while running on the goddamn treadmill: 0
Total number of movies watched while running on the goddamn treadmill for the year 4
Milo posts for the week 3
Milo posts for the year 26

Notes: Got in a strong 16 mile long run, but the week-a-day runs were still lacking. Time to get serious about a new run streak I think – it’s the only way I seem to be able to get regular mileage—and regular mileage is what I need!

 

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Friday Inspiration: Why Endurance Athletes Choose to Suffer

Like everyone in the northeast, I’m sick of this winter. I’m sick of the cold, and the ice, and the half frozen black slush. More than anything else, I’m sick of running on the treadmill. On the weekends, I generally head outside, regardless of the weather. But during the week, when I’m often running before dawn, or after dark, I tend to head to the basement treadmill. It gets dull, but it gives me loads of time to watch inspiring videos.

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Ironman coverage. The Kona championships, the regional championships, inspiration videos edited together by amateurs. Basically its been just lots and lots of nights watching videos of people in spandex, suffering. Last night, I watched the end of the 2014 North American Championship.  At the end of the video, when the final runners of the day were trying to squeak in by the midnight deadline, I got goddamn emotional.  Why? Because I’m a softie? Yes. But also because these efforts touched something inside me.

Of course, the Ironman is a contrived event, as are all modern endurance events, and of course these people volunteered (and in fact paid) for this experience. But that doesn’t make the suffering any less real or the accomplishment any less meaningful.

Many have hypothesized that the rise in popularity of endurance events among the first world middle class is tied to a longing to be physically challenged in a way that the “real” world no longer presents – that in  what has become a post scarcity economy (for certain demographics), people feel the need prove themselves in a visceral, physical way. I think there’s something to that. I see it in myself, and my friends, and I saw it in the athletes in this video.

Many people (including myself) make fun of this desire to suffer for no reason.  I understand why it can seem silly. It’s certainly a luxury.* And endurance athletes definitely take themselves too seriously at times. But watch the last ten minutes of this video, and think about all that went into getting these athletes to that place, and tell me you aren’t at least a little inspired.

*An Ironman entrance fee alone will run you about $700, the gear and time can raise that price considerably.

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Interesting Gers: Martha Nussbaum

Almost five years ago now, I converted to Judaism. I did so because of a complex set of personal reasons including spiritual growth, intellectual development and love. When I was going through the conversion process, I gazed at my own navel a lot on a now defunct blog where I also wrote a couple of pieces about other who converted. The reasons I converted are complex and personal. I’m might rehash them here one day, but not today. Today, I’m going to share an edited version of one of a series of posts I wrote examining the lives of other converts, or as they are sometimes known “Gers/Gegiyoret”.  Here’s one.

Let’s start with Martha Nussbaum, one of the most important political philosophers working today. If you follow contemporary thought, you know who she is. Nussbaum teaches at the University of Chicago, has written a number of books, including the must read Sex and Social Justice*, and writes on current political issues for the New York Review of Books and other periodicals. She is one of American’s few, true “public intellectuals”. Some people I respect dislike her, usually because of her takedown of Judith Butler.**  Her grounding in classical thought and her ability to teach philosophy in a legal theory setting make her one of my intellectual heroes. And whether you love her or hate her, you have to admit she is ridiculously smart.

She is also a ger.

It is not easy to find information on Nussbaum’s conversion. It would seem that, like many converts, she originally converted at least in part for love when she married Alan Nussbaum. However, long after she and Alan Nussbaum divorced, she stayed involved in Judaism. In fact, she had her bat mitzvah relatively in 2008.

At her bat mitzvah, Nussbaum gave a d’var Torah. Here is an excerpt:


As life goes on, if all goes well, we gradually become able to see others as whole people who have needs of their own, and we develop genuine love and concern for them, and guilt about the excessive demands we have made of them, and probably still want to make. Both of our texts emphasize this capacity for concern by focusing on the need to confront the other “face-to-face,” panim b’fanim in Deuteronomy—an idea suggesting the acknowledgment of the other as an end and not merely an instrument of one’s desires. (The eleventh-century commentator Rashi remarks that a face-to-face interaction requires honesty and the suspension of manipulative and dishonest behavior.) In the Isaiah text, similarly, we see that we must all bring messages of joy and consolation not only to ourselves, but, above all, to others, to our fellow citizens in Zion. The imperative, “Comfort ye my people” is a plural, and though many commentators see this as a reference only to a group of prophets, others—prominently including the sixth-seventh century liturgical poet Eleazar Kallir—hold that the addressees are us all, the entire congregation. . .  So, we all should bring messages of concern and consolation to all, and there appears to be no reason, given the universalism of the text as a whole, not to take this to mean the entire world.

You can read the whole piece here.

Nussbaum hasn’t shared the exact reasons for her conversion, though she has been quoted as saying she had “an intense desire to join the underdogs and to fight for justice in solidarity with them”*** and that she had “kind of gotten to the end of my rope with Christian otherworldliness. I wanted a religion in which justice was done in this world.” Both interesting, and I think political reasons for conversion. I have no idea why she chose to have a bat mitzvah in her sixties. I’d love to ask her.

Regardless of her reasons, her intelligence and sense of justice is a great addition to the Jewish community and she is certainly an interesting Ger.
*Nussbaum is also a player in one of the great gossip scandals of the intellectual elite. She was involved for many years with Cass Sunstein before Sunstein ran off an married Samatha Powers. That whole thing is a discussion for another blog.

** Which was, perhaps, mean spirited and with which I certainly disagree on some points. However, even those I know who hate Nussbaum must admit she also raised some pretty good points.

*** I’ll acknowledge that this is a very fraught reason for conversion. Is underdog status something we can just claim, or must it be given by those favored to win?

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