Back running in Savannah, it's tough getting used to the humidity again, but it stayed somewhat cool out. I got back on schedule with my mileage, but I mixed the locations up so that we're not in danger of getting bored. Wednesday's six-miler was at the beach, which was nice, since I got to go for a swim afterward to cool off, but on the other hand, the sand (and possibly running in a combination of minimal sneakers and barefoot) changed my form so that my quads were sore for a couple of days. Actually, that's probably not a bad thing.
I also went out to the McQueen's Island trail for my long run of the week, but found half of it closed for repairs, so I ran 9 miles on a 3-mile trail. The last couple of miles there was actually the first time I had to run in the rain in all this training. I'm sure I'll get plenty of that this week with the remnants of storm Erika coming through. Also, this week, we start four weeks of peak distances – 28 miles per week.
A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on
That's fun. Let's see video of that.
Or as long as we're sharing videos, how about the first time the people he's helping saw a white guy?
Wren quit fighting through what probably could have been his strongest years — his mid-20s — to start a nonprofit to help the Mbuti Pygmy people get clean water. Fight for the Forgotten and its partner, Water4, dig wells to draw clean water for a people who are enslaved. Workers go to the fields for oppressors to earn two bananas a day to share among families of four — it's just enough food to keep them healthy enough to work, and it keeps them coming back to work because they need the food.
These are people who are still using army ants to stitch wounds — they have the ants bite the wound, then break off the body, leaving the fangs in to act as staples.
Wren has suffered malaria, parasites and other tropical diseases. His organization employs 17 people full time, but has dismissed more than that to find the right people — people who can survive dense jungle for a month or two at a time, return to the U.S. for a couple of weeks to recover, then go back.
He's back to fighting so that he can raise further awareness, and he's a partner in a documentary on his journeys.
He was on Joe Rogan's podcast this week (he's been on before), and around the one hour, 20 minute mark, he renders Rogan pretty much speechless. It's really amazing listening to Wren talk with such passion and humility, especially while Rogan explains to him that in a few generations, he's going to enter tribal mythology. As a giant, white, hairy myth.
Well, Week 11 was kinda crappy to start. On Wednesday, I was scheduled for five miles and gave up after 4.3. On Thursday, I was scheduled for four, but ran three — though I did average under 10 minutes per mile for those three. After 16 hours in the car Friday, though, I did eight strong miles in Central New York.
Week 12, I was lucky enough to do five runs in four different cities, and I shuffled the days and mileage. I was scheduled for four miles Tuesday, six Wednesday, four Thursday, nine Saturday and a recovery run Sunday. Instead, I ran four Monday in Western Massachusetts, nine Wednesday in Central New York, six Friday in Charleston and four Saturday back in Savannah, with my recovery run also in Savannah.
Most impressive in all that, apart from running on vacation food and lots of travel, is that I ran nearly two full miles longer than I did in Week 10, adding only two minutes to my time. I'm sure the pace will slack this coming week, putting me on the road longer, since I'll be running in 80-plus degree weather with 90-plus percent humidity instead of the 65-degree temperatures and 30 percent humidity I ran in up north. But onward we go.
What would you do with an extra 10 years on your life? An extra 100? An extra 1,000? We might be heading that way.
Yuval Noah Harari, speaking to Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, notes that death used to be what he calls a metaphysical problem — something decreed by the gods — now, we see aging and death as a technical problem, one to be solved by science.
He also notes, however, that over the next several decades, people will lose their value both to world militaries and to world economies, as machines take over. As that happens, Harari says, we might also see a halt to our system of mass medicine. In that case, instead of having people fix the consequences of aging (Alzheimer's, arthritis, etc.), we'll see research to prevent aging altogether.
Research is advancing in both, to be sure — scientists are using origami to design nanobots that will course through our blood, battling the bad stuff — but there are also some people doing research into helping us live, in good health, indefinitely.
Terry Grossman runs a center that tests pretty much everything that has anything to do with showing the effects of aging, with an eye toward correcting it. Some of the more underground research, though, is being done by people like the folks at Sierra Sciences. Founder Bill Andrews is looking to "cure aging or die trying." He runs an ultramarathon (50-100 miles) every month, in his 60s. His bio says his goal is to run a seven-minute mile at the age of 130. Hear him on Singularity 1 on 1.
The SENS Research Foundation is doing a lot of research into biorejuvenation — the idea that we can use, perhaps, stem cells to make our parts function as if they are in their prime with an injection or something similar. Once your heart starts to fail, for example, we'd be able to make it work well. And not just once — if a heart's prime life span is 30 years, every 30 years, we'd rejuvenate your heart. Or your liver. Or your eyes. Or whatever you needed.
Aubrey de Grey is that center's outspoken lead scientist. Hear him on Joe Rogan's podcast. One thing I find really interesting on this podcast is that the two do get into some discussion of the ethics — while defeating aging certainly sounds like a noble cause, when do we run out of resources, both as a planet and as individuals?
Grossman, Andrews and de Grey are all featured prominently in the documentary The Immortalists.
There's also another branch of immortality research called transhumanism, which really seems to be a live-forever-at-all-costs movement. Artificial limbs are the beginning of this line, but merging humans with machines — what science fiction calls "cyborgs" — is the direction this research is going.
The most visible proponent of this, at this moment, is author Zoltan Istvan, who is running for U.S. president in 2016.
Normally the first time I do a distance it's a struggle, I'm unsure about how it's going to go. I wind up slugging through with my pacing all over the place and hopefully not feeling awful. This week was different. Eight miles for the first time went smoothly (if slowly), with the fastest and slowest miles being 52 seconds apart (compare that to last week, when the difference between my fastest and slowest miles over a seven-mile run was about 3:20). I'm excited to be traveling next week. I'm not sure what my time Internet access will be like, so if there's not a Week 11, all the numbers will come in the Week 12 diary.
My sister's baby was due July 31, but has decided to make everybody wait. She and her husband have started a private Facebook group for family and close friends to come together around the impending birth. I posted this letter the other day, and a lot of people have said they're moved by it, so I thought I'd share with everybody.
Note that they are using the nickname "Kishkah." It makes sense for us Jews. The rest of you can Google it. Enjoy.
I know where you are is warm, and food comes whenever you want it, without effort. I also know that change is scary, that New England is getting ready to enter its cold season, and that trying to get attention for food is not a happy prospect.
But there are some things you should understand.
The world you are entering is amazing. There are trees and flowers and big metal boxes that move people around at remarkable speeds. There are love and heartache.
There are smells and tastes — refueling your body in this world is so much more wondrous than getting nutrients through a cord.
The planet you will inherit is in need of some help, to be sure, but we are currently adding one day to the human life span every two months; by the time you can vote, we'll be closer to adding a day to the life span every day or two. You'll be a member of the first generation that could potentially live indefinitely, and I have no doubt you and your cohort will use your lives for good, to help each other and the world as necessary.
It sounds like a big responsibility, but understand that you'll have help. Your parents will be your first line of help, but there are hundreds of hands right behind them. In no time, you'll be able to communicate with them and with others you will introduce into the group. And soon after that, it will be your turn to run the show — a much bigger show than the one you're running now, which is composed of merely a single choice: to stay in the comfort you feel now, or to take a bold step into the world.
I hope you'll choose the second. We'll see you soon.
It was a great week! No walking at all, slightly higher mileage than last week but almost 20 minutes less time on the road. It's great that, as a beginner, the improvements seem to come quickly and are quite large.
Rufus does four things every morning upon waking. The first thing he does is wipe his eyes. It's a very awkward movement, but is one of the most human-like things he does. Next, he stretches. Then, he looks at me, wags his tail, and backs into my leg, wanting me to scratch him above the tail in that one spot he can't reach. When he's had a few minutes of that, he will roll over on his back and take a minute or so of belly rubs.
Then I'm allowed to meditate and have some coffee.
There are two things to be gleaned here, and they're lessons that don't need a lot of deep diving.
(1) Morning rituals are important. I can run to the kitchen and grab some coffee and hop in the shower or whatever, but Rufus will follow me around, nose in the back of my knee, until he gets his scratches and rubs. He needs his morning ritual to have a good day.
(2) Keep it simple. I can help those rituals along with one hand. They're one step each. It's not like David Ortiz approaching home plate or the Ickey Shuffle. Strip the rituals down to the things that are most important and don't require a lot of preparation.
Now, go scratch your ass, rub your belly and have a great day!
OK, we blew it early in the week with diet, but cleaned it up and had three great runs out of five. Next week better, I promise! Hopefully much less time on the road for the same number of miles. Five miles should definitely not be taking me longer than six miles usually does!