KLowrance Wants You To… Run A Marathon!

October 14, 2008
Eric Liddell, The Flying Scot (image from www.virginmedia.com)

Eric Liddell, The Flying Scot (image from http://www.virginmedia.com)

Running

I recently stumbled onto classmate Katie Lowrance’s blog which is all about marathons, their history both in Greece and in the modern Olympics, why people run them, and how they can benefit organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Add what Kirk Hathaway said in his recent comment about “the hurdles of the assignment” being “thrown onto my track” — a clear running metaphor — and I knew I had to review Katie’s site.

Running is one of the oldest endeavors known to man. Whether it be for military purposes, or competitive sports and games, or simply for fun and exercise, people have literally been running for millenia.

In her page, Learn About 26.2, Katie mentions the story of Pheidippides. In legend, Pheidippides was an Athenian messenger who ran about 150 miles over the course of two days, initially to solicit the neighboring Spartans’ help in fighting off the invading Persians. After the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon, Pheidippides ran his final 26.2 miles just to announce triumphantly:

Νενικήκαμεν!” (“We have conquered!”)

After he uttered this one word, Pheidippides fell down and died. The verb he used is based on the noun νική, Nike, victory. With one long run and one word, Pheidippides became the inspiration for both the Modern Olympic event of the marathon and the very shoes that runners and athletes everywhere wear to this day!

One question we have not yet addressed in JOMC 713 is this one: With the ease and ubiquity of new communications technologies in the home, on the cell phone, in the car, and everywhere, will people in the future simply become less physically active?

My Dad has a running joke (no pun intended) about how the people of the future will evolve huge eyes, larger brains, and tiny, shrivelled legs because they will sit at their computers all day long being homebodies and keyboard warriors.

Katie’s Blog

Katie’s blog suggests otherwise. She says running a marathon on June 1 of this year was “my biggest accomplishment thus far in my lifetime.” She gives a clue as to her own motivations for running:

I have come to realize that the endorphins of running contribute to a “runner’s high” that is so unique and worthy of the challenge. The more I have pushed myself to work harder and longer, the more gratifying the experience is to cross the finish line.

Katie says there is a joy released when we strive to run, and the harder we strive, the greater it becomes.

Katie seems interested in making her site a kind of depot for information about and for runners. She tells us about the Team in Training program, which trains people to run marathons, half-marathons, and other events to raise money for Leukemia awareness and treatment. A program like this seems easy enough for any of us to sign up for, runners or not.

Kirk Hathaway suggests that by narrowing her focus to regional events, Katie could provide ongoing information about runs in her local area. I second that. I would like to see Katie writing about runs that she attends in the future, telling us the stories of who she meets, why they were there, and maybe even giving us some pictures!

Katie’s design motif is a light tone of pastel colors that is easy on the eyes, warm and friendly. I like the design. Her “About” pages are well-written and are personable. In her “Weblog/Blogroll Questions Answered” article she speaks in an honest, open, first-person voice that tells us about the struggles and successes she has had in adapting to a new technology. She even gives us pictures of herself as a runner and with her boyfriend, a U.S. Marine.

I would only recommend that Katie find a way to list her favorite links higher on her blogroll, as currently her Bottom 5 comes out on top because of WordPress’s bad habit of organizing blogroll categories alphabetically.

About the Picture

Eric Liddell was the 1924 Paris Olympics runner who famously refused to run the 100 meters because of the qualifying heat on a Sunday, which conflicted with his belief in the Sabbath as a day of rest.

Instead, he ran the 400 meters, winning the gold medal. He went on to become a lifelong missionary in China. In the movie “Chariots of Fire,” Liddell says to his sister Jenny, in my favorite quote about running:

“Jenny, I know God made me for a purpose, for China. But he also made me fast! And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”


Checkered Trousers and Guitar Solos: Randy Burton’s “Players and Pickers”

October 8, 2008

My JOMC 713 classmate Randy Burton has written a rockin’ blog on guitar-playing styles called “Players and Pickers.”

Randy’s Blog

On his About page, Randy lists his credentials: he is a self-taught guitar player and picker, with over 30 years of experience in diverse genres: “rock, blues, folk, and jazz styles.” He has played in a number of bands over the years, including playing lead guitar for a blues-rock band called “The Trousers,” who released a self-titled CD in 1997.

I named this post “Checkered Trousers” because when I listened to a couple of songs from The Trousers I was struck by the comfortable, laid-back style, and also the diversity of genres: like a well-worn pair of checkered trousers…

Like other students in JOMC 713, Randy wrote about how he evaluates websites. I agreed with his guidelines, in which he mentioned useful content, appealing design elements, and active use. On the last point, I liked this quote:

There should be evidence of use from other viewers; if there is a bulletin board or forum and only a few people have visited, then the value of the site is questionable.

Evidence of use could include comments, an active discussion board, or links or pingbacks from other bloggers.

I also like how Randy lets you know which websites are trying to sell you some kind of instructional program, like many guitar sites are, versus which others are completely free.

Keep up the good work, Randy!

Are Guitar Solos Dead?

In Randy’s post for last’s Friday’s best and worst links, he links as the best site a blog called “Guitar Licks.”

I enjoyed the post in Guitar Licks called “Is the Guitar Solo Dead?” The post says guitar solos seemed to have “skipped a generation,” as they are completely absent from today’s Top 40. I agree that there is a dearth of good guitar solos in today’s music, even in what passes for rock.

However, I disagree when the author blames the death of the guitar solo on the advent of grunge and alternative rock in the 90’s.

Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge

Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge

Some not-quite-top-40 bands and guitarists out there –including those influenced by grunge — are producing excellent-quality guitar solos! One example is Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge (see picture at left).

Since Mark and the other former members of Creed let singer Scott Stapp go and acquired the more versatile Myles Kennedy, Tremonti has introduced a number of hard-hitting guitar solos into his songs. For example, listen to “Open Your Eyes” on YouTube.

An added benefit is that Kennedy is a stronger guitar player than Stapp, which leads to some better support for Tremonti.