Running Progress Report

12 minutes today. Nice brisk weather. I was pretty unmotivated this morning but ran anyway. By the end I was glad I'd gotten outside.

A Scary Moment

I had a scary moment last night just before going to bed. I was walking normally when, out of nowhere, triggered by nothing, I had a sharp shooting pain that covered most of my ribcage. It seemed to be coming from the T5 or T6 area of the thoracic vertebra in the spinal column.

The pain was so sharp it caused my knees to buckle. I wanted to lie down IMMEDIATELY. There didn't seem to be anything to do to relieve the pain other than get horizontal, so I took two shots of Jack Daniels and tried to sleep it off. The next morning only a small amount of residual pain remained. All day today a slight nagging pain in that thoracic spinal region remains. It makes me want to do twisty stretching exercises because the pain feels so like a severely cramped muscle.

This area has hurt before. The only thing to do is gut it out and let time do its healing magic. I suspect that this was initially caused by weightlifting exercises such as squats and dead lifts that compress the spinal cord. Yet another reason to approach weightlifting carefully.

I was very conscious of the area when running this morning. I tried to minimize the amount of up and down motion that would mechanically shock the spinal cord. The result was a flat, measured run. Not too exciting, but I got my minutes in. Some days, that's all that matters.

Later in the afternoon, the pain disappeared after a particularly hard sneeze. The vertebrae must have been pinching a nerve, and the explosive nature of the sneeze must have separated the vertebrae just enough to allow that nerve to get unpinched. Nature is a marvelous healer.

I don't know much anatomy, but two sites that give rudimentary spinal cord information are:



Up to now, my morning routine has consisted of waking up, jumping in to running clothes, and hitting the trail. (See Training for a marathon for early-morning alarm clock motivation.) No eating, no stretching, no nothing.

This early morning simplicity can't last forever. For one thing, your muscles are going to get stronger as you run, and the stronger they get, the tighter they get, and the more you'll feel like wanting to stretch. Three important areas you need to stretch are your hamstrings, your calf muscles, your groin, and your lower back muscles.

Stretching before your run makes your first few minutes very enjoyable. If you stretch beforehand, your muscles feel loose and limber.

Stretching after the run is probably important too. You won't need to do so at this time, since you're only running a few minutes a day. Once you get above an hour or two, however, this will change. When you get back from your run, you'll want to loosen up a bit before doing anything. The cooling-off period causes the muscles to tighten naturally, and stretching before that ameliorates somewhat the effects of the tightening. But more on that later.

BEGIN *** BACK *** February 16, 2004NEXT *** END

As the time moves on until I will become free from compulsary education I reflect back on my time within the two schools that I have been too and I realise that maybe things haven't been so bad. When you are at school you generally hate it because it is something you are forced to do but as you get older you begin to realise that perhaps it wasn't so bad and it did do you an ounce of good. That is what I think anyway, I'm glad I was schooled well, aren't you?

- Ainthorpe Primary School

1993 - 1999

My time at primary school felt short and unfulfilling at the time. As I progressed through the school I realised that maybe I wasn't like every other kid around, I felt different. As I think of how I was back then I realise that every kid at that school most have thought that, wanting to be special and seek attention. That is what primary school kids yearn for throughout the whole of their school life. Primary school was fun - nothing was ever really that hard. Back then, those many years ago, everything was so simple and being sad was something that was not even possible. We painted. We played. We laughed. We were children.

- Wolfreton Secondary School

1999 - present day

I'm still in education now and quite frankly I don't really like it that much. Sometimes, just sometimes, I don't like it at all. I've had some fun, though. During secondary school I gained new friends, experience of life and a wonderful sense of achievement. Being older I realised that I had to get my head down so that I achieved good marks overall and hopefully in the summer all my hard work will be put to the test. Secondary school has left me thinking that being clever and having an education is the best thing you can but you have to remember to have fun too. You need to make that balence between fun and school otherwise you end up in a mess and, most of all, unhappy.

When thinking of school I feel happy and privleged that I have achieved so much in my life. School has to be the best time of your life, doesn't it?

First premise

What we are is some mixture of environment and genetics.

Second premise

The environmental component is made up of a lot of bullshit socialization that makes us more like everyone else.


It is good to know what makes you uniquely you. Socrates and Polonius and all that.


Remembering how you were in elementary school might allow some glimpse into the process by which who you really are was molded into who you became, and by remembering who you were then you can divine who you ought to be now.


My bathroom had two sinks and a double mirror. One morning before school, my 3-year-old sister and I were both standing atop the counter in front of the mirror. Our cheeks were bulged out like chipmunks, concealing some amount of coinage and water. Swishing this concoction around felt good and looked funny, so I enlisted my sister’s participation and we both spent some minutes swishing money in our mouths and trying not to laugh. After the novelty wore off, I was dismayed to find myself short 35 cents. Apparently, my swishing was too ardent and I had swallowed a quarter and a dime. My father, a doctor, was livid and worried and drove me to the hospital where he worked. I told the story to the radiologist and he laughed at me in a way I found unpleasant. The x-ray showed my missing monies in clear relief, two bright white spots in my stomach area amidst gradations of grey. “Well, if he doesn’t pass the coins within the next month or so, we’ll have to intubate him,” the doctor explained to my dad and I. This sounded bad, and was. Especially the part with the strainer which was largely my mom’s duty. Anyway, at school the next day my teacher, Mrs. Thompson, asked where I’d been. I told her that I swallowed a quarter and a dime. She asked how. I told her that I was running behind Tom, the kid I walked to school with, and a quarter and a dime flew out of his back pocket and into my agape mouth. Before I knew what happened, I’d swallowed the coins. I remembered the radiologist’s laughter, and congratulated myself on cleverly averting another instance of same.

1st Grade

There were three of us who could read. Aaron, the first Jewish person I had ever met, was around 2 1/2 feet tall and had an air of world-weariness about him and a sprig of unkempt, wiry black hair. He wore natty clothes and laughed sarcastically at things. Emily was quiet and collected all things porcine. Stuffed animals, small porcelain pigs, drawings of pigs, etc. During reading every day we’d go to 2nd grade where they were reading Honeycomb. The second-graders were ambivalent about us interlopers. To look cool, I would have “swear attacks” on demand, wherein I would string horribly incongruous combinations of all the bad words I knew for the amusement of the older kids. The teacher overheard one of these “attacks” and I was sent to a kindly, bald man who asked me a lot of questions about my family and subjected me to a battery of tests. As a devout Catholic, I would pray for atonement after each of these indiscretions. Sins of thought and action grew too numerous for me to count during nightly prayer, and I decided that I was an atheist.

2nd Grade

School began to seem absurd. Our teacher gave us each a sheaf of graph paper on which we would daily list the numbers from 1 to X. For 30 minutes per day we would perform this mindless exercise, counting into the thousands. One kid, Ramon, was a little too cool for the rest of us boys. The girls liked him. He had older brothers who smoked. He could do an elegant flip over a low chain-link fence that none of us could. One day after school twenty of us circled around him and beat him up. I later found out he had been in and out of foster homes since being taken away at 2 from his crack-addicted mother. My friend Steve and I concocted a plan to melt all the snow on the playground on the heating vent and sell the water. Steve knew and used the word “abominate”, as in I “abominate” you. I added this word to my attacks. We tried to come up with a way to make diamonds. I became very interested in all things Japanese.

3rd Grade

Being forced to sing in school chorus like the rest of the 3rd grade incensed me. I sang the wrong words, making up my own to the amusement of others in my desk neighborhood and just below the din of the collective voice. During a rest, I carried on alone and our choir director, Mrs. Ream (her brown hair like a mushroom) sent me to the office. I hid in the coatroom for 1 hour and returned looking penitent. I wasn’t caught but had nightmares for months. My friend Greg and I were allowed to miss class for a week to write a play which we were to perform in front of the class. It was cut short by the same Mrs. Ream after the 5th instance of the word ‘crap.’ I told people I wanted to be an international lawyer when I grew up. I won the school spelling bee, and then lost at district: z-e-n-o-p-h-o-b-i-a. Because I hated pom-poms on winter hats, I cut them off. Walking to school one day some 5th graders sidled up behind me. Noting the hole in the top of my hat, they sang “Billy Billy butthole! Billy Billy butthole!” This escalated into one of them, Brendon, taking my lunch and drop-kicking it into the street. I told on him right when I got to school. His mom had to make me a replacement lunch. Ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato. It was better than my mom’s usual. Brendon and I became friends, walking from the office, implausibly.

4th Grade

A kid from Laos named Blong came to our school and I decided he would be my friend. I felt as if I was simultaneously being a good Samaritan and finding out about distant lands. Once I caught him reading a small slip of paper. I asked him what it was and he refused to show me. I chased him and tackled him and he put the paper in his mouth. I forced open his mouth and read it as he ran away. It was a psalm. I won the Young Author’s contest writing a thinly-veiled account of our friendship. I was voted “best dribbler of a soccer ball” in gym class. As this was voted on solely by the girls, and as I had meager athletic ability at best, this was my most precious accolade. I fell in love with a girl named Nicole who was born on the same day as I was, but denied it more than three times when faced with the accusation. I began taking Japanese lessons but stopped after my teacher tried to get me to visualize a bell ringing on a distant hill. He made me close my eyes, and shouted at me to relax. It freaked me out. I tried and failed to start a simulation of medieval Japanese samurai society on the playground, complete with printed currency and assigned roles. The games always devolved into smear the queer.

5th Grade

More tests land me on a bus every day to learn algebra with other inbent social stragglers. The sweatpants quotient was high. I would write the Hiragana and Katakana syllabaries on the back of tests to impress my teacher. I engaged in daily races with Paul to turn in our worksheets first. These would involve jostling and red faces. I was elected head crossing guard. A Cambodian kid taught me how to swear in his language, and some Kukido moves. I chugged milk faster than anyone when we had fun lunches. I was named citizen of the year. At the end of the year, Nicole had a pool party and I wasn’t invited. The day it was held, I went to her house and spied on the gala through a knothole in her wooden fence. Kids were laughing and diving and joking. It was completely natural and unpretentious. I knew right then I was not going to have an easy go of things in the upcoming years, and I was dead right.

Sixth grade...

Tonight, a friend of mine committed suicide. He cron'ed a Perl script to upload his suicide note to his LiveJournal at the prescribed time, then executed his plan.

A friend found the post, and called the police, who found him dead in his apartment.

I seek no sympathy or empathy, by the way. I will mourn his death and will be okay. I'm not the focus here.

My friend Chad is the focus.

Chad, I hope the pain has stopped for you. I hope you've found something better, or that at least you're not suffering. I'm sorry I couldn't help you, and that no one else could either. I'm sorry you made this choice, but your goodbye was eloquent and heartfelt.

You will be missed, my friend. Farewell. You'll be in my thoughts and in my heart for a long time.

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