Monday, September 27, 2010


It looks like training has finally begun. I have 26 weeks to prepare myself to run 31 miles through the Maryland woods. My runs at Birch Hill Orange and the run I did this weekend at Bear Creek in Macungie, PA have been pretty technical and fairly steep. The Bear Creek trail climbs a series of switchbacks up the side of a ski area and Birch Orange has more elevation gain but less roots and rocks. As I was running Bear Creek on Saturday, trying not to split my head open on the very fucking gnarly trails, I started thinking about the absolute stunning firepower of the human brain and its' comparison to crap that we regularly stand in awe of (iPhone, Fast Computers, Automobiles). It all reminded me of how, when I was training for the Philly Half, I would leave the house far before sunrise and I'd marvel at the extraordinary number of calculations that have to be made to do something as "simple" as put a key into a lock in the dark. The number of steps to pull off this feat of engineering genius is staggering.

So... As I was visiting lovely Macungie, running downhill at a pretty good clip on twisting root and rock filled "trails" sometimes not more than an arms length wide, I thought back to the key in the lock. I became awed by the human brain, the human body (even one as old and graceless as mine), and the solitary hour I am allowed to spend in the woods. I started to think about the way that every foot fall requires that the eyes relay to the brain a series of important variables (fallen tree, rock field, tree roots, uneven footing, mud, snake, elevation gain/loss, etc), and then, once the brain has received those variables, it begins it's calculations to keep the vessel (me) upright. Once the brain chooses the correct place to plant the foot it has to shoot the information down the length of my spinal cord, down not one, but two legs, and, with an extraordinary success rate, gets every calculation completely accurate nearly every time. When you consider that I also remember to breathe, am able to talk to myself, take in the spectacular views and have time to think all of the above nonsense you begin to realize that there is no feat of engineering that will ever top what we have rolling around in our skulls.

So next time you want to gush about how your iPhone can tell you where to go for dinner or whether some douchebag friended you on Facebook, think instead about the greatest machine in existence, and then think about how it allows you to play with said iPhone, while at the same time thinking about what you might have for lunch, listening to your favorite Lady GaGa song, AND not dumping you on your ass while navigating a flight of stairs.



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