Today's Mighty Oak


I spent July cleaning up my digital and physical life for a project I did for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Taking the format of NaNoWriMo, camp is more free-form, allowing you to write, edit, draw, really tackle any project you want. I set out about 40 different tasks and I completed 30 of them (and I was working on number 31 last night, but didn’t finish).

Here’s what I did:

Finished reading “Refocusing My Family”
Setup and started mental health BuJo
Updated personal ultrarunning packing list
Sorted papers on printer stand
Mango: Arabic lesson 1
Created Runnit Spotlight wiki page
Knit heart blog post
Magazines finished: 1
Cleaned up Google Keep
DnD Recap
Medical directive packet
Philly half training plan
Cleaned up mobile bookmarks
Cleaned up browser bookmarks
Clean bookshelves: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Updated videos for the Myst Linking Book
Social media pulls: Jan, Feb, March, April, May, June, July
Updated my running page
Sorted my ginormous pile of filing

The big projects I need to finish (besides the cleaning out my filing cabinet, which I got halfway through last night) is cleaning out my Gmail and updating my dating app profiles. I had also hoped to get through more magazines and cleaning some more physical spaces, but before I tackle those, I have to get the huge pile of books I’m getting rid of out of my house.

Overall it was a successful month and I’m glad I tackled what I called “Literary Miscellany.” It’s been nice to get those tasks checked off and out of my mind!



The current administration has (somewhat quietly, especially when you consider everything else that is going on) put together what they are calling a “Natural Law” Commission.

They are unhappy with how the government in the past has protected human rights, and have instead installed a committee that is completely against a woman’s right to choose her medical care or any type of equality for the queer community.

The committee is the brainchild of the founder of NOM (the defunct National Organization for Marriage that fought for California’s Prop 8) and the author of the hate-filled Manhattan Declaration. GLAAD has a report about all the members, and it doesn’t look good.

Add this to the ever-growing stack of steps backwards we’re taking. This is a way at an end run around the marriage equality ruling from SCOTUS as well as Roe.

All my best,

Mike



I came across two articles from GQ about gay stereotypes, and while they were both written with a tongue firmly in a cheek, they both admit there’s some truth to them (even if they can’t prove anything scientifically).

The first: that gay men walk fast.

If gay men feel self-conscious or fear attack, they could walk quickly to get away from perceived risks in order to feel safe again,” she explains. “They might also fear being judged or stared at, so want to move away from the ‘perceived risk’ as quickly as possible.”

Though Phillips also says that feeling confident can increase walking speed. “It is all about the feeling of safety and security in the body. If you feel safe somewhere, then you may feel like ‘strutting’, being more open and feeling more extroverted,” she explains.

MacRae tells me that walking fast might be a method for gay men to give a “visual cue” of their physical fitness and attractiveness, and that there’s a gendered element to how we perceive sexuality that may influence walking speed. “People generally perceive sexuality from women’s bodies when they’re standing still and men’s when they’re in motion,” he says. … So gay men upping the pace of their walking also amplifies their sexuality. Strutting, or walking at a rapid pace, can be a way of displaying homosexuality in safe spaces.”

And the second: that iced coffee is part of gay culture.

“Like, gays will do ridiculous things and there’s something so counterculture about drinking an iced coffee during the winter.” It’s also, he says, a sign of resisting homogenization. “Hot coffee is so normcore. Like, it’s for dads and old people commuting on the train.”

For Sam, iced versus hot coffee is the perfect symbolism between queer and straight culture. Essentially, iced coffee has become a queer avatar, and a way for gay people to signpost themselves against the uniformity of heterosexuality.

But there’s still an element of covert behavior that occurs in the queer community, be it sexual or, in the case of social media, through the development of digital languages like memes and modern slang. From things like the rise of the word “wig” and Wendy Williams GIFs, there’s an aspect of digital communication that feels exclusive to queer people, although these then tend to filter down into more mainstream culture. Iced coffee could just be an IRL manifestation of this playful covert language, signaling to any fellow gays in Starbucks that you’re one of them. As Dr. Bengry posits: “It has to be a shared experience.”

But really, the reason iced coffee is gay is actually quite simple. A number of people on Twitter got in touch with me to suggest that part of the gay appeal is quite literally the straw you drink it through. One user suggested that the straw meant that you could “maintain eye contact on your phone, some cute boys, [and] homophobes wanting to attack u [sic],”

The two articles are fun and playful, don’t think too much about them. But I do have to say, both are very true about me. And I’m okay with that. I can enjoy the signposting of both and look at them with a wry smile, understanding a bit more about myself if I truly want to dig a bit deeper.

All my best,

Mike



Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, we have the first look at the Mr. Rogers movie staring Tom Hanks.

Pete Buttigieg took over P-Town and it was Pete-Town for a weekend!

Pictures from World Pride in NYC to celebrate Stonewall 50.

Meeting the new president of the HRC:

In other Pride news, Gritty (who, even though I am a die-hard Pens fan, is still the best thing that we didn’t know we needed), did a great job at Philly Pride (and check out him waving the Philadelphia Pride flag)!

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (drag nuns who do street-level ministry to the queer community), were present at a commemoration ceremony of the queer lives lost in the Holocaust.

(Pennsylvania) Republicans are a disgrace, part I: screaming over the reading of a letter of a former homeless man because they want to slash the General Assistance Program.

(Pennsylvania) Republicans are a disgrace, part II: Congressman says he’s a person of color because he’s white.

And finally, as a palate cleanser, watch some T-Rexs run a race!



A while ago, I was walking into the mall, and attached to an exit door of the movie theater was a small crocheted heart:

The project is an outreach program designed to bring awareness to bullying and suicide. From their website:

The hearts are placed in public places around the world for people to find during their everyday lives. We hope the hearts cause people to stop for a moment and reflect on a young life lost to suicide, on bullying and on the fact that everyone’s life matters. We want to leave people with a feeling that there is still good out there in the world

It’s a beautiful heart and a wonderful project (which has spread across the world as I learned).

While the heart I found wasn’t in bright, cheerful colors, as is requested, it did bring a smile to my face, not only for the fact of finding a wonderful piece of art, but it was in the bear pride flag colors (a subset in the gay community).

Small pieces of art like that are sadly seen by some as litter (and to be honest, sometimes I suppose they can be, we need to think about sustainability when creating art), but things like this always bring a smile to my face.

The smaller pieces of art at a Burn, or the things that people do or bring to gift to one another, very often, mean more I think than the large projects funded by grants. Both have their place, and spectacle is wonderful, but there is something to be said for the intimate moments of small art and their immediacy that is only experienced by a small handful of people. It’s an experience you can only share with a few others, and that adds a layer.

Either way though, it brought a smile to my face, and I’m so happy to have found this small heart!



Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, in amazingness, a hotel clerk clapbacks at a racist customer trying to book a room.

In case you haven’t seen it, the trailer for the sequel to Breath of the Wild:

In Pride month news, an Alabama mayor defends his plan to kill queer people and a ‘death to gay’s pastor is going to hold a rally in Orlando because Pulse.

But in good news, the NYPD Commissioner has officially apologized for the raid on the Stonewall Inn.

Google has released a beautiful digital monument for the 50th anniversary called “Stonewall Forever,” preserving our history.

XKCD hits it out of the park. This. Absorb this:

And finally today, Mika announced a new album and he released the first single:



Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the modern LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

We owe everything to those brave trans-women of color, homeless youth and drag queens who launched the riots and the queer revolution.

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the our predecessors had 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we went from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, The Equality Act being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

In light of the Orlando massacre, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Pride.  To not be intimidated by the hate, but to instead keep rising, demand equality and fight for our very right to exist.  What hurts the most about Orlando may be the reminder that even our own spaces, which we thought were safe, aren’t.  Or maybe they never really were, not while hatred and prejudice still exist.  But as we face, united, the epidemics of gun violence and homophobia, we can at least take solace in the fact that we, as a community, know how to win epidemics.

This is the first year in history where we (at least in the United States), have less rights than we did last year. The horrific and systematic attacks by this administration, and Republicans across the country, has shown that we cannot take anything for granted. But we are resilient, and we are a community. We’re a chosen family.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



Race information

  • What? Eagle Up Ultra (24 hour)
  • When? June 8-9, 2019
  • Where? Canal Fulton, Ohio
  • Peak MPW: 60
  • Longest training run: 34 miles
  • Strava link

Goals

GoalDescriptionCompleted?
Mandatory AHave fun with the team!Yes
Mandatory BThank the volunteersYes
Mandatory CGet some sweet high fives and hugsYes
A50 milesYes
Stretch100K (62 miles)Yes!
Don’t leave without50K (31 miles)Yes

Background

The last two years, I’ve volunteered at Eagle Up with the Reddit meetup crew (as well as volunteering in Las Vegas for this year’s Meetup at the Jackpot Running Festival). I’ve really enjoyed crewing, but also wanted to try my hand at running an ultramarathon.

I’m generally a pretty private person, and tend not to talk about my goals too much (for fear of somehow letting people down, I’m working on that in therapy), and I had decided to run EU in the fall. Some of the meetup crew decided to go back to Eagle Up, so since I had already started my training, I was super excited to have a lot more friends there to pace and cheer me on!

Training

I slightly modified a training plan from Relentless Forward Progress: basically I just swapped two weeks to coincide with the Pittsburgh Marathon.

As is normal for me, there was a lot of day swapping inside of each week, but aside from my planned miss of a long run due to my regional Burning Man event (during taper, but subbed in with tons of time on feet), I attempted to run everything else, and was generally successful. I had some issues with four weeks in the middle of my plan (see knee issues, below), but that still left me with a good base.

Knee issues

I had to take two weeks off/down due to some IT Band issues, followed by one healthy week, and then took two more weeks off due to some other underlying knee problems. I ended up rallying back and having my biggest weekly mileage ever the week before the Pittsburgh marathon, so no taper for that.

When I was younger, my right knee had some chondromalacia patella (the kneecap goes sideways instead of up and down) and during this cycle, my left knee decided to get in on that action, right after I got past the IT Band issues.

Being diligent about my stretches got me back in working order, and as much time as they take (although sometimes it’s a good excuse to watch some Netflix), they really are necessary for me it seems. But an additional silver lining, is I was able to help a fellow Frontrunner with his knee pains from all my experiences!

Travel to Canal Fulton, Team time

The drive to Canal Fulton is fairly easy, and was even easier with a friend in the car, so that was pretty awesome. Eagle Up has grown in popularity, and even getting to the park as early as we did, we were pretty lucky to find a parking spot.

I loaded up my little red wagon with team supplies and as we made our way across the field, a smiling face surprised me, Matty had flown in from Florida to join the team and see me run! There were a lot of hugs (including a wonderful double-take hug) and I think I’m still grinning from being able to share the time with him.

The rest of the day was filled with hanging out with the team, packet pickup and lunch, milkshakes, passing out pizza and meeting the neighbors.

Pre-race

Woke up early at the AirBnB, had a Clif bar with peanut butter, generally was nervous, and headed to the park.

Having crewed enough of these events, I had practiced in my training at being pretty self-sufficient by keeping a small chart for me to check off after each lap so I wouldn’t forget things. It wasn’t a perfect system (as I did forget a few things, more below), but it worked fairly well. I will apologize to the most amazing crew though, between my chart and my demeanor (always smiling), I was told I was tough to crew for since they never thought I needed anything, but the crew and the rest of the team were lifesavers!

Miles [0] to [20]

I did a halfway decent job at going out slow, which, has been something I’ve been working on! Spent the first part of the loop with Russ and we chatted before we got separated. In the second loop I met a new friend, Matt (who is currently cropped out of my facebook profile picture), and we had some great conversations about family and queer theory. We found each other Sunday morning to congratulate each other.

As I came into the team tent each lap, whoever was there was great at seeing what I needed and filling up my handheld for me. I would check off that I ate some food, drank some water, took a salt tab and then I had a few optional boxes to see if I needed to change/add sunscreen, lube, shoes or clothes. After the third lap I got to chat with Erica briefly, she and I crewed together the last two years so that was a nice boost.

For most of loop four I was inside my head doing some work, and I gave that loop the codename “Ghost Lotus.” While it wasn’t necessarily the conclusions I thought I wanted to come to, it’s probably what I needed, as is the nature of these things.

These first four loops my fueling was mostly denser and somewhat sweeter things, but as the temperature climbed, that was the end of that for me.

Miles [20] to [40]

The temperature rose and this is where things got tough. I took in some more salty foods (Pringles), and headed to the main aid station where I discovered my new favorite ultra fuels: PB&J sandwiches, and hummus inside a tortilla.

I did notice that for as much as I was drinking, I was not peeing nearly enough, so I started downing some iced tea each lap to try to get things moving. The temperature spiking also threw my stomach into knots which pretty much stayed with me the rest of the race, so I started adding some ginger ale as well as some sitting breaks between loops to try to settle it down.

During loop 6 (I think, or it might have been 5), I caught up with Colin and we chatted as he finished up his race, and Dan was kind enough to pace me for lap 8, which gave me a great second wind and I cannot thank him enough for that. I also ended lap 8 with the traditional Nuggies, a very perfect ultra food.

Miles [40] to [62]

More miles, just keep churning them out. I tend to approach a run as ‘my purpose’ for the day, so just knowing that this was what I was doing today, kept it from being too daunting.

Loop 10 I was paced by Nate, and we were silly out on the course, made some friends and were told we have great calves (I mean, we do). This was also the lap where I forgot my handheld at the tent. I filled it up, but forgot to take it with me. My chart might be great, but it’s not fool-proof! This was also the lap my Achielles started to give me some trouble. Not too painful, just ‘crunchy’ in a way that it reminded me it was there.

Loop 11 was another lap inside my head, this time codenamed “Gerry,” it was just starting to get dark, and so were my thoughts, but again, good things to ultimately contemplate. This is also the lap where I found my new, new favorite ultra fuel: peanut butter and honey in a tortilla (sorry hummus).

Finishing up loop 12, I had been leapfrogging with a woman the entire day. I finally introduced myself to her, and she told me she was on her last loop. At the last water stop, about a mile from the finish line, I just told her that I was running her in, and that gave both of us a new wind. We chit chatted, but only a bit as she was now determined to run it in. I peeled off at the team tent to let her sprint the final straightaway, and as I passed her on my way to my final out and back, I gave her a fist bump.

The out and back is of course, way longer than the two miles it actually is, compounded by the bugs dive bombing your face if you turn your headlamp on, but the congratulations and smiles you get on the way back are worth it.

Came around the last bend and saw the lights from the finish line and kicked it into what felt like high gear. Passed a couple teammates out on a loop or their last out and back, and the rest of the team had all gathered to cheer me on. Crossed the line and got some hugs and a buckle.

Post-race

More hugs, tried to stretch, ended up on the ground as we cheered for Russ to finish his 100K as well! We headed back to the team tent and I sat for a bit before heading back to the AirBnB to shower and nap. During this two hour nap, I woke up three times to pee, so I was hydrated well, but I still need to work on that management I suppose.

We headed back to the park to watch the end of the relay (our teams did amazing), and then break camp before we went for breakfast at the local diner that’s become the tradition.

Back to Pittsburgh, just in time for Pride

Brooke and I drove back to Pittsburgh to head to Pride (and the ever-popular Golden Girls Live) and the Three Rivers Arts Festival. I saw a bunch of friends, but as usual, after an Ultra, the sheer number of people gets to me and we headed home after a bit.

What’s next, mental health and lessons learned

In the grand scheme, I have things pretty easy. But I will admit, training for an ultra is hard. And training for an ultra as a single person household is hard, too. There’s a lot of minutiae that needs done (grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, yard work), on top of work and family obligations. I tried my best to make sure I took time for myself, but I failed pretty hard at that.

I had two weeks off, followed by one week on, and then another two weeks off, due to injury. During those times, I really had a tough time mentally, not only because exercise helps me keep better control of my emotions and mental health, but also because I put far too much stock on the number my scale says. Yes, I still have a bit to go and need to continue working on being healthy (with a holistic approach, not just a number), but after losing a significant chunk of weight, I’m realizing I have a more complicated and messed up relationship with my body than I care to admit, and I need to work on those things.

I have a much easier time controlling my weight when I’m running at 40 mpw, any higher and the runger takes over and I gain weight. It’s good that I found that out this time around.

I spent a significant amount of time towards the end of my training cycle and during the race thinking about ultra running as self-harm. Combined with my complicated relationship with my body, I realized that if I’m not careful, this could easily turn into something very unhealthy. But I’m more cognizant of that now, and I recognized my tendency to go that route. So that’s progress, and something I’ll keep exploring and working on.

I can’t thank PRorER Ultra Team, PRANK and the Pittsburgh Frontrunners enough, having such amazing running families has taught me so much and brought me so much joy. They put up with my crazy shenanigans and I’m so happy to have them all in my life!

I ran a bit the week after EU, and that helped to stretch things out, although I’ve taken more rest days lately to let my Achilles fully get back to normal (as well as due to a weird schedule this week). My next goal race is the Philly Half Marathon in November, so for now, it’s just some easy running over the summer with a team event and the ARTC Moose League, as well as a few charity 5Ks, sprinkled in. I’ll be crewing again in October at Sleepy Hollow, and I’m torn between running EU again next year or running it, I think that will depend on who else is doing what, and if I can be useful to the team if they’re going for records, but for now, I’ll enjoy a bit of time off before jumping back in again!



It’s race week! Here’s what I did going into the week, I’ll have a separate post up with a race report.

Thursday, Brooke drove down from Syracuse, and most of the Pittsburgh crew came over for a team dinner. The next morning, we packed the car and headed to Canal Fulton!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 4 miles. Was able to run with the Frontrunners, which was a great send off before my race!
  • Wednesday: 5K. Happy Global Running Day! Did a 5K (as opposed to just 3 miles in my plan) to get a badge on Strava.
  • Thursday: 2 miles. Was doing loops around my neighborhood and saw a friend walking her dog, so did a loop with the two of them before finishing out my miles.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Race day.

Race reports owed: Jackpot, Eagle Up.



Working through Decompression from my Burn was longer and rougher than I anticipated. Due to work and some family commitments, I didn’t have much time to myself, so I felt a bit rushed coming back to Default.

But, life continues on and here I am at the second to last week of my plan.

Taper crazies are real, and I feel like everything is broken and I’ll never be able to run again. I keep reminding myself that I’ve already run a 50K, so I’ll be good the day of. I just need to trust my training and hope the weather cooperates as much as it can.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Rest.
  • Wednesday: 7 miles, including 6 x 400.
  • Thursday: 5 miles.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 12 miles.
  • Sunday: Rest.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

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