Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's Cold and I Need To Run This Morning

... and I will, having mapped out a 5.77-mile run on MapMyRun.

But before I do that, let me first talk about Shakespeare's Teh Comedy of Errors, which I managed to finish yesterday because I had an unanticipated day off1.

Hahahahahaha! You FOOLS!1! I lured you in here with a post title that seemingly promises a running-related topic, but then I pulled the old switcheroo, as Ol' Shakey himself liked to do with the venerable Bed Trick. And you can't turn back now! You've broken this post's hymen! Now you have to marry it! Hahahahaha! And this post is a fucking shrew!1!

Anyroad, yeah, The Comedy of Errors. I had never read this one before. While I was reading it, I couldn't help but think how hilarious it would most likely be to see performed. As a Shakespeare play, it is not all that earth-shatteringly impressive, which is understandable since it is one of his earliest plays. But its farcical elements keep it moving along at a nice clip; it's also Shakespeare's shortest play, which contributes to the feeling that it zips along.

Despite the fact that this is probably one of Teh Bard's weakest plays, he still manages to touch on themes that he would develop more fully in subsequent plays, the most obvious being that of identity, especially mistaken identity. One of Shakespeare's sources2 for TCoEMenaechmi, by Roman playwright Plautus — is about the confusion surrounding the accidental near-meeting of one set of long-lost twins; Shakespeare ups the farce quotient in The Comedy of Errors by constructing its plot around the confusion resulting from the proximity of two sets of twins who are unaware of each other. Antipholus of Syracuse comes to Ephesus, along with his servant Dromio, in search of his long-lost twin bother (for whom he has been searching for seven years), who, as luck would have it, lives in Ephesus and also has a servant named Dromio who — WAIT FOR IT!1! — is Dromio of Syracuse's twin3. Oddly, in the midst of all the play's mistaken-identity confusion, it never occurs to A. of S. that the reason he's seemingly inexplicably being accused of doing all these things he didn't do, the reason there's this chick that keeps insisting he's her husband, etc., etc. is, . ... he's accidentally stumbled into the town where his long-lost twin lives.

Of course, if he realized that, you'd have no play, would you?

Despite all of that, the play is enjoyable for many of the same reasons that all Shakespeare plays are enjoyable: its humor (much of it slapstick); its believable characters (the characters have some depth, even if the plot does not); and its beautiful, though at times convoluted, use of the English language. There are, e.g., passages you can read over and over and, even with the aid of The Riverside Shakespeare's footnote-al glossary and a rudimentary knowledge of Elizabethan idioms, never understand, not all of which passages are necessarily corrupt, though some are.

Much of the play is written not just in blank verse, but in rhyming couplets, which contributes to the skewy syntax and indirectness of expression that makes certain passages difficult to parse. Shakespeare had a weakness for rhyming couplets but, as he matured as a writer, he got much more facile at integrating them.

I finished The Comedy of Errors early enough in the day yesterday that I was able to get a head start on my next project: Henry VI Part I. (I decided to read the plays thus: comedy; history; tragedy; romance ... so that I don't get sick of a particular genre by reading too many examples of it in a row.)

In running news:

This morning's icy run:

5.74 miles (I improvised a different route than the one I mention above) at a 9:54 pace. That's a crappy pace, but keep in mind two things:

First: It was icy (which is why I called it an icy run).

Second: Teh 'Bride got out this book for me called Natural Running, the main point of which seems to be that, thanks in good part to how our Space Age Running Shoes are constructed, we run the wrong way4. Specifically, many of us are heel-strikers. I only have to look at the wear patterns on my shoes to know that I certainly am guilty of leading with my heel. I already knew this about myself, and I knew that with each step I was, in essence, hitting the break on forward momentum with my heel.

I tried a long while ago to amend my stride but for some reason didn't follow through.

Well, in my Boxing Day run of 7 miles, I made an effort to run the whole thing as a mid-foot-striker; and I'm pretty sure I succeeded because after the run both of my calves ached (which I expected) and I developed a nasty blister on the ball of my left foot under the big toe (not exactly unexpected) and the inner thigh muscles of both legs ached, too. Not as much as the calves, but there was a definite achy feeling there.

Now I took this as a good sign, because I've had tendinitis of the knees and I got it exactly where that very thigh muscle attaches to the knee. When I went to the doctor about it, he sent me to PT where they gave me exercises to develop those muscles because runners typically don't use them, especially when they run as I do.

So, now, as a mid-foot striker, I am using those muscles, because I can feel it.

Today's run brought me up to 1111 running miles for the year. I should be able to get two more runs in before the new year.

1 Yeah, even though NJ was in An Official State of Emergency yesterday, and all the state and federal offices were closed, the county library system where I work was still open. My boss called from home and told me that the fucktards who run the county decided there would be a delayed opening, but that's it; he encouraged me to take time rather than come in, which I did. Seems that's what everyone did, because when I tried to make my official call out to the library at noon, I had to call like 3 different numbers before I got an actual person at, of all places, the reference desk.

So yeah, I had off, but I had to use my own time.

2 The other: Amphitruo, also by Plautus.

3 The set-up for the play's incredibly convoluted plot, which it's really best not to think about too much because it is entirely unbelievable and if you think about it too much, which you shouldn't, it'll just spoil the play for you, happens in one long speech at the beginning. The speech is given by Egeon, who is the father of both of the Antipholi and, in good proto-George Foreman style, gave both of his kids the same name for some reason, perhaps because he took too many head shots in his career as a pugilist? Anyroad, in a sea-faring accident that occurred when the twins were infants, one set of twins ended up with Egeon and they went to Syracuse; the other set ended up with Emilia, their Mother and Egeon's wife, but were taken from her by locals; which is why A of S. knows he has a long-lost twin, but A. of E.? No clue.

Teh Mom is out of the picture entirely until — SPOILER ALERT!1! — Teh Big Reveals at the end.

Egeon, by the way, when he is introduced at the beginning of the play, is already under a death sentence for the crime of — get this — being a Syracusian merchant in Ephesus. Fucking Ephesians! Why do they hate Free Trade? Must be a bunch of Socialists!

Egeon conveniently disappears after Act I, scene i, and does not appear again until the end of the play, just before Teh Big Reveals!1!

And that, in short, is why it is best not to think too much about the plot because the plot of the Comedy of Errors makes Desperate Whorsewives seem almost believable by comparison, which is saying a lot.

4 Full disclosure: The dude who wrote Natural Running also makes the Newton running shoe, so he has a vested interest in claiming that the "correct" way to run is precisely the way Newtons force you to run. I happen to buy his premise, but I didn't buy his book (Teh 'Bride checked it out of her library for me) nor will I buy his shoes. I'm sticking with my Asics.


  1. $150.00 for a pair of Newton's....you'd really have to buy into teh theory to fork over that kinda dough....

  2. We saw Comedy of Errors on stage a couple of years ago. I found it painful to watch. I wanted to stand up and yell "you dumbass, it's your brother" about a hundred times. (lil sis)

  3. I am not familiar with the wikipedia definition of bed trick. I am familiar with other definitions that are less ... um, literary?

    Not that you need my .02 on Newtons, but don't buy them. I would like to send that dude a bill for my stress fracture and plantar plate dysfunction. Now the only time I wear my $150 per pair Newtons is when I cut the grass.

  4. I still wear my Newtons for shorter runs, just because I've already kerplunked the $$$ down for it.

    I've given up on my stride. I ran without injury with my fucktarded gait, & when I started messing with it with all this midfoot/forefoot bullshit is when I got wholly hurt.

  5. When I run faster than 7 min./mile, I run on my toes. When I run slower than 9 min./mile, I run on my heels. In between, things get iffy - but I'm not going to change shoes in the middle of a run just because I decide to change speeds.

    The first draft of Comedy of Errors had two entire towns of separated twins each relocating to the other. The next draft had triplets. The third had two guys who were exactly the same except only one was a heel-striker.

  6. I started to read Comedy of Errors as part of my journey through Bard-land, but I couldn't get past the first act. Kept having the feeling that I'd been suckered into watched a sit-com, the kind with "hilarious results."

    And all your talk about running when it's icy is making it harder for me to justify slacking off on the running when it's merely rainy outside. This is very thoughtless of you. Thought I should mention it.

  7. I haven't exactly researched the issue, mostly because I have no intention of purchasing Newtons, but as far as I can recall from when I've run across the issue just reading foax's blogs, I've only ever heard negative things about Newtons. The dude in the book toots his own horn in a lot of ways, many of which pretty much shill for his brand of shoes, but that part falls on deaf ears where I'm concerned.

    What reading the first chapter of the book did do for me, though, was remind me that I wanted to try to stop being a heel striker; only because it makes total sense to me that it is counter-productive to be slamming my heel into the ground with each stride. The first time it was pointed out to me that that was, in essence, what I was doing, it just rang true. I'm convinced that my heel-first stride contributed, to a large degree, to my developing tendinitis in both knees.

    I have no races scheduled in the near future, and since I expect various not-used-to-being-used muscles in my legs to revolt at my sudden change in stride (my calves already have begun the revolt), I figure now is as good a time as any to shoot for a shorter, more efficient, mid-foot-strike stride. I don't even care if I end up running more slowly as a result. The idea, for me, has always been to be able to run well into my geezerdom and thereby remain marginally healthy. I'm never gonna set any speed records, nor do I want to. Longer and slower is better, as far as I'm ( and SHE'S!1!) concerned.

    I also don't think I need this dude's fucking shoes just to change my stride. In fact, my aching calves, after a mere two mid-foot-first runs, essentially proves I don't need the shoes.

    Unless I start to develop real problems as a mid-foot-striker, I'm going to try to make this change work.

    If I experience real problems ... I'll just revert to my old ways. Hell, if toyYuM can live with her massively fucktarded yet comical-looking gait, surely I can live with mine.

  8. fyi - bed tricks are often illusions. I've awakened to see someone next to me that I was pretty sure I didn't go to bed with (and so did she).

  9. I had Teh Comedy all queued up ready to read so I'd understand your erudite column, and you bastard, you snuck it in. Should have labelled it spoiler. So I skipped the whole thing to play it safe, and will come back later this week. Which one next?

  10. Ummmm... this may be off topic, but personally, I would buy Newton's if they would make me look like JoyRuN does in her latest blog pictures.

    Hell, I would wear the shoes, strap copies of the book to my body, and blow the creator of the goddamn things if it would make me look like that when I run (or ever).

    My, oh my. I am such a class act. I should really open an etiquette school.