Tuesday, July 26, 2011

These Trends

Just finished cleaning my uzi.

Tiger Woods is physically deteriorating, which is the result of extensive use of steroids. That guy will go down in history as one of the biggest douche-bags for not only his sex scandal (which was hugely embarrassing and pathetic - would love to blog about that!), but, probably worse (since we're all so capable of forgiveness in light of one's "turn-around" defined by his/her #WINNING), because of his fall from the professional golf ranks. He's done. Jack Nicklaus' historic 18 majors will remain the standard and Woods, locked-in at 14, will just fade-out.

Certainly, people can attribute his fall to a mental/emotional state that's kept him from reaching that level of confidence that helped define his game. The scandal, the press, his ruined marriage to a seemingly classy gal and their lovely children. . . it's just too much for him. He's mentally fried and emotionally devastated.

Bullshit. The guy is over all of that marital/familial tumult. Hell, consider his values to begin with. He's not that devastated. He's already proved he CAN'T be. Sure it hurt. Did you see his caddy break-up? This guy moves-on as fast as a loser pervert hits on a diner waitress or a neighborhood teen.

He, like his buddy Alex Rodriguez, who's on the DL again and has already thrown-in the towel on chasing Hank Aaron's HR record (Sure Bonds surpassed Aaron, but Bonds is . . ..), is breaking-down. That's what steroids do. They're GRRRRREEAAAAT (Tony the Tiger voice pun intended) while you're putting-up those sick numbers, but eventually you gonna breakdown.

That will be an interesting lens with which to watch Lance age. I used to follow him on twitter and as of a year or so ago, he was training for an ironman. Then he wasn't. I'm not sure why he stopped preparing, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's physically not able to, especially given his standards of wanting to win a race like that.

Granted, different kinds of PEDs probably have different long-term effects. But many of these athletes start to breakdown physically. That's the way it is. Tiger fell out of the top 20 as of today. He's done. He's a cheating (on many levels) washed-up derelict. Long live The Golden Bear.

Like Tiger, I'm so sick of this economy bullshit. If you notice those few finance blogs on my blogroll, you'll see I'm just trying to tune-in to that cultural chart. Those guys are fairly tuned-in to the politics and economics of the world, as it affects their $$. This debt ceiling crap is basically just turning-out to be a lesson on how soft our President is and how completely incompetent is our congress. Enough said. There are no winners here. Our economy is a mess, and one could easily say it too is breaking-down from a long cycle of financial PEDs. In a year or so, I will be able to explain/critique all of this as a result of my home-schooling. In the end, anyone who says Obama put us in this mess is just a giant Boehner. But like I said, and most die-hard democrats would agree, Obama ain't the greatest leader. Period.

This global financial crisis is, well, global. The aforementioned blogroll has much to say about what is going on in Europe. They're in a heap of financial turmoil. Probably because they're having to be more realistic, for instance raising interest rates, etc. Hasn't happened here yet.

Let's generalize. Americans are just soft. On the trail running end of things, we have seen a fairly clear sweep of things in terms of the podiums of some of our big races. Roes' focus and determination (already chronicled) I think is on holiday, so that pretty much does it for our Euro resistance in that sport.

There was a discussion on a few blogs a while back after the NF50 in San Francisco. The issue was drug use. My take was why wouldn't it be an issue as purses get bigger, attracting more serios athletes. In Europe, the trail runners seem to be supported handsomely compared to similar type runners over here. Solomon makes my point given wins at WS100 and HR100. That'll be the trend, I'm afraid. Dakota Jones, Anton Krupicka, Dylan Bowman, Mike Wolfe, and whatever other young American you can find to compete in these bigger and bigger ultras most likely won't have what it takes to resist this Euro/international purposeful/professional surge of talent washing ashore. . .and dominating in these types of competitions.

Nick Clark is not an American in the way these generalizations go. He's a badass Brit who has put a very serious stamp on the scene as of late. Enough said.

And did anyone catch the win and beverageing by Mr. Darren Clarke at the Open Championship? He's an old dude who chain smokes and drinks like a fish. He won easily and stayed-up all night drinking. Came to the following day's press conference having not slept. Find the sound bite. Classic. Here's a pic pre all-nighter. Accepting the trophy. The Euros just know how to get things done. Generalizations. Often work.

Nick, Darren . . . either way, classic guys getting things done. In terms of golf, the last . . ..7 out of 8 majors? Have been won by non-Americans. Americans are just not getting it done out there. But an old Northern Irishman is, pint in one hand, putter in the other.

There are so many directions this discussion can go. I'm looking at the culture. The NFL and NBA are just so American and frankly, not that interesting. That's just me. Trail running, cycling, golf, tennis, soccer . . . the sports that I love are being dominated by Europeans. Expect it to continue, for the most part.


  1. I get what you are saying here but I have yet to see actual hard evidence that long term use of PEDs indeed leads to a physical breakdown at a sooner age. Anecdotal evidence - yes, we have all heard of Lazedo ... but a case of one does not make for a good case. Understandably, a study here might be impossible at this point ... you'd need a pool of folks who admittedly used certain PEDs for certain periods of time, etc etc, to make the study scientific.

    In fact, when I read this sort of stuff: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/Drug-Test.html I wonder if HGH ain't the fountain for eternal youth.

    That ain't an endorsement of use by the way.

  2. "Nick Clark is not an American in the way these generalizations go".

    I'm not sure I follow you there...how do you mean?
    Seems to me he is very much an American in that way (no big time sponsorship to relieve him of a day job).

  3. Shawn. I wonder if matt means Nick isn't soft.
    There'll be arguments to the contrary but the test is going to be utmb. What I've noticed reading blogs of both Americans and Europeans (Asians as well) is the prevalence of whining and sandbagging before events and then the excuses afterward. "my training isn't going well. My (insert body part) is giving me trouble. I'm not expecting much from poor self in this next race." Damn, shut tfu and race. Our culture leaks heavily into our sports; we expect things just to happen and when they don't we look for excuses or ways to pass off responsibility. I'm generalizing but there are very few guys who just say, hey, I was outclassed. I ran probably the best race I could and was beaten.

    Anticipate what you're up against. Prepare for it. Accept the outcome like a man.

    Conscious choice not to address the doping...

  4. whining and sandbagging before events and then the excuses afterward.

    I meant this trait is prevalent in US ultra blogs... At all levels.

  5. Guilty as charged Tim.

    But that comes from having toed the line, expecting the best, stating that and then seeing it unravel in epic fashion. I think in part this is because in those cases I am grasping a bit to hard (almost like when a baseball player is in a hitting slump - he can make it worse by trying to hard to hit the ball).

    If I go in free(er) of such expectations, I am guessing I am more relaxed and results come better. And if they don't, I still see the lesson in the failure, but I don't need to burden everyone else with that.

  6. Well I certainly agree Nick isn't soft - HR100 had to have put him on UROY lists.

    Being American (born or otherwise) has little to do with it, though. I think it has more to do with elite runners not wanting to gut it out for anything less than a podium finish. Whether that's a terrible thing or not, I don't know. I can't finish the races any of you guys run to begin with, so I can't judge. What I can say though, and something we've spoken about before, is that the middle or back of the pack finisher, whether they are elite or not, is more inspiring than the guy or girl on the podium. At least for me - another back of the packer.

  7. I agree with you Shaun. Nick is tied at the top for uroy, in my mind. Utmb and nf50champ will decide.

    GZ. I'm guilty as charged too. Welcome to America. Please leave your shoes and accountability at the door.

  8. I know very well that running and soccer are very different sports, but I think the (some)european runners go about their sport with a more european soccer type mentality. And that is you just have to be the best that day - no fucking excuses. Soccer players need to be at their best 1-2-3 times a week during their season. Yea, you see those guys roll around and complain all match long, but never do you hear them say they they got beat because of a bad ankel, a bad hamstring, tired legs from training. Even if they thought it they'd never say it because they would be seen as "weak." That's a huge difference, they way americans see other americans and they way europeans see other europeans when it come to making excuses. The fact is, in the soccer mentality, they accept those things as their own fault. An injury, lack of fitness or improper prep is all seen, by a soccer player, as their own fault. The (some)european runners don't make bullshit excuses because they grew up in a place where the blame is on them, not on anything or anyone else. Sure, Matt, (some) Americans are soft, and some are soft because we seek out something or someone else for our short comings. Thanks for the great post. Perhaps it can be a start as to how we, as americans, see other americans who make excuses we don't accept.
    Rick Merriman

  9. For the record I ain't buying this entire line of malarkey of "a guy downplays what he can do in an event" and so America is going to hell in a handbasket (because of our attitudes on ultras).

    Sure - do I respect the hell out of Nick stating before WS that he was going for the win? Hell yeah. I don't see that as some sort of UK trait. Fort Collins, maybe but not UK.

    Last I checked UK's top star in distance running came to a US coach's cadre to be trained.

  10. Thanks guys.

    But I need to clarify. I am not consciously talking about the GZ's and other bloggers who run, per se. I am talking the state of elite/professional racing. Unless certain American runners ultra/mountain runners stay really healthy and damned motivated, the euros/internationals (who have more "support," which could be a slimy term), will, I believe come to dominate the BIG races. The NF50 SF last year and WS100 and HR100 are BIG races. Can you think of a bigger one? I think Mackey is the only guy showing some old-school American grit. Go Mackey!

    And technically Clark is from England. Sure he represents FoCo, but he's a euro and a pro (I saw him pasted all over one of the recent trail running mags. Pearl Izumi, etc.). And if he's an American by geography, then he's an exception to the trend I'm trying to point-out. The sport is no longer dominated by the Scott Jureks or Hal Koerners (good old American boys). It's much bigger now. Guys like Meltzer and Mackey and even Carpenter are getting up there in years. They represent a tougher breed of American runners in my terribly humble opinion. The guys now have to stay motivated despite getting regular jobs and keeping up with the Jones in this God forsaken economy and competing with an even tougher younger international contingent.

    So, again: I'm talking elites and pros of the sport.

    Hence my intro talking about Tiger and A-Rod. And the fact that D. Clarke came out of his wine cellar to win a major. Look at pro tennis, my God. The Americans are ball boys at this point and beyond the Williams sisters, the womens' side has gone abroad as well.

    We are a soft, bloated, propped-up culture right now and yes I'm suggesting a little cause and effect across the board - the dirth of genuine talent in pro sports including ultra running.

    As for it being not an American thing but rather some trend of guys not finishing because they aren't placing, I do defer to some of the comments about euros seemingly being more prepared and finishing (Killian WS100 '10 is a great example).

    I don't think the Americans will be able to hang with the euros much longer in those BIG races.

  11. Two points ... (or maybe not really points as much as blabbing) ...

    ... there is this entire "what is an American" conversation that comes up in these circles. Is Mo Farrah a Brit? Is Meb K an American? Is Abdi A an American? Is Nick C a Brit? Is Kalid K an American?

    Side note: It drove me a bit batty to hear people talk down Meb's silver medal or his win at NYC a few years ago because he was "not an American."

    I have no idea what Mr. Clark's actual declared country of residence is, but as far as I know, he pays taxes here, drives on the right side of the road, and will eventually use the word pants instead of trousers.

    So, just cuz you were born there does not mean you are that.

    I have a tough time with buying the statement that because a few Europeans have won a few races that they are a tougher continent and we are soft. I do think that you are on to something though when you look at the motivating factors (umm, money).

    In running, you could argue that the the Japanese are the toughest country because they have these races where 500 people finish a half marathon under 65 minutes (or something like that). But they don't regularly win medals in the track, road, or XC stage. Kenyan and Ethopia hugely dominates all of that, but the US folks are right behind them in the mix - and arguably well ahead of any European country.

    I also don't see a dirth of young tough minded talent showing interest in the MUT space: Owen, Jones, Petersen, Krupicka, Grant, Gates just off the cuff.

    When the money is really there in MUT space (and I am not sure I really want it to be at times), watch the Kenyans and Ethopians mop that up ... not the Euros, not the Americans ...

  12. Great rants over here, keep up the good work!

    The unfortunate state of elite US distance running was summed up in that 5000m the other day. Rupp and Solinksy both DNF'd. Solinsky's debacle (he weighs about 160lbs, FYI) was the result of being bullied by some 104 pound string bean.

  13. GZ, I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but just a couple of points:

    As for NOW, this is a trend I see:
    NF50 San Fran: winner Miguel Heras (this was a LOADED field, setting-up a serious championship style event).
    WS100: Kilian (This may be the default world championship aside from UTMB)
    HR100: Julien Chorier (the other BIG mountain ultra that's drawing big-time international attention).

    As of 2011, the big American star is Dakota Jones. He seems to consistently show-up and throw-down. I am not throwing Americans necessarily under the bus. But they're getting beat in these MUT events. Tough to argue with that. Does it continue next year? I suspect.

    Killian will win UTMB (unless Geoff has his cape on).

    As for your Meb, Clark, Kalid K point, I agree that if they were actually representing America in an event, say the Olympics, and they won and draped the American flag over their sweaty, victorious bodies, I would be cheering no doubt. But if Abdi A or Meb wins a Boston marathon and you turn and say "It looks like American distance running is in good hands," you'd get funny looks. We are a country of immigrants but I think we'd all agree that our schools, starting in high school, I guess, need to churn-out the talent we're talking about. Then the talent is legitimately homegrown. Nick Clark pays US taxes so sure, go USA. But if it looks like a Brit and quacks like a Brit . . .For the record, I have enjoyed following and cheering on Nick more than anyone. So stoked he's running in your neck of the woods, GZ. Possession is 9/10 of the law.

    Thank God Brownie finally stopped by. Good stuff. I'll drink to that illustration.

  14. My nickel - in some regards I almost if Meb K is almost MORE American than folks who were born here. Immigration is at the root of the American story. He came here, went through the drill to become an American, ran at Cali HS, ran for UCLA as an American, won the silver medal as an American and won NY wearing the USA uniform (not his sponsor's uniform), with the American flag.

    Anyone think that ain't American because he was not born here ... well to those, I say "congratulations. you were born here. you are an American. And a bona fide idiot."

    So screw their funny looks. Last I checked, very few people had roots that extended as being born here more than 2 or 3 generations ago.

    I agree that there is some case to be made for Euro dominance this year in the ultra space. I just don't agree that this is because we are soft as a culture in sport.

  15. Meb is full-blown American, but my point is the recent immigrant donning the redwhiteblue. You get my point. Meb is not that case. Those that didn't embrace him after NYC, as we discussed on your blog I think, were guilty of some kind of discrimination. Or they really really wanted Hall to win. Those fans were wrong.

    Soft: we need an infrastructure to compete. Why isn't Roes sponsored much more? I heard he isns't even getting race comps, travel expenses to some of his big races. WTF?

    I'm going to revise and say we're not soft; rather, we're misguided, distracted, addicted to garbage, lazy. . . okay I'm back to soft.

    We're soft.

  16. I don't disagree that there are issues with the country, and that we are "soft" in many areas.

    I don't come to that conclusion based on our performance in 3 ultra events though. Or soccer. Or tennis for that matter.

    It might be a personal thing, but I can't look our top MUT guys in the face and call them soft. Maybe I am soft in that regard.

    Is the money in MUT space? Not really as we all know. Why not? BECAUSE IT IS A BORING SPORT. Yes, I know we all love it, and we all have generally good reasons why we love it but it is BORING. So (to the general public) is soccer, tennis, cycling, track and field, volleyball, tri ... Heck, half those sports are more enticing than a runner disappearing into the woods for 15 hours.

    Not a shot at Geoff, but some simply are more marketable or find a way to be (probably not much different than the sports I list above when compared to football, baseball, hockey and basketball). Dean K has outmarketed all ultra guys but has not won nearly as much as Scott J or Geoff. Tony gets a lot more press than Geoff - without nearly the number of 100 wins. It ain't always about the results.

    I will end here. And save the rest for the next post (or the one after that) rather than submarining this one any more.

    Still like to hear about the drugs break you down thing though.

  17. I agree, we'll move on, but I'm not calling our guys soft. I guess I just don't like much of what's so popular sports-wise and maybe consumer-wise in this country. Our guys won't get the support because they're American and we don't care as much, I guess, about trail/mountain running (though I think that will change). Plus our people have to buy a house (maybe not really, but we certainly have our own priorities in America that's for sure).

    I'm not really criticizing our guys as much as the way they're going to get beat by formidable opposition. That's the trend. I could written this post differently saying: this is what we support in this country. This is what we don't. Other countries do support these things. Ohhh, we're going to see that discrepancy as a disadvantage.

    In the end, I see this conversation as important because this sport is going to take-off. I want to be sitting front row. The corporate dollars will come because we will build that infrastructure. We will make this shit important. This is an opportunity, not a dump. I am just getting started.

    Btw, VS made such a big deal about the Garmin team and HTC team and BMC team in the Tour because those are American teams. Cycling is big in this country now. Whoda thunk it.