television

THREE DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS

Solstice

So, I’m recovered from my race Saturday and putting together my training for my 50k in October. To get in the spirit, I’ve been watching running documentaries, ultra running ones. I thought I’d write about three of them specifically.

I’m a fool for a great ultra running documentary. I’ve seen all the ones on Berkley and the ones about the ultra race in the Himalayas. I’ve watched (I think), every one of the Western States docs, and I include one here in my reviews. So, here’s my thoughts about a few of the different ones you can find on Amazon Prime.

BOUNDLESS

The first is a TV show from Canada called Boundless. It’s a few years old, premiering in 2013, so I hope certain things have changed. I am only going by what I saw in the show. The show is about two Canadian adventure junkies who try some of the most difficult races in the world. They come off as arrogant, egotistical, snobbish and not anything like any trail runner I’ve ever met. In fact, they are the opposite. Simon Donato is so keyed in on winning, that he refuses to help a fellow running who ran out of water on an ultra race in Mongolia. Dude, you freakin help out each other. The other host, Paul Trebilcock (Turbo), seems a bit more likable, although his ego also gets in the way. In fact, the best episodes are when they completely underestimate the race and it bites them in their butts. Check out the SUP Hawaii race. The best episode ever!! And you would think they’d learn from these constant setbacks to stop being such arrogant jerks, but they never do.

Boundless lasted three seasons. In Season 3 they add two more athletes. The only reason I can think of is because the show needed more likability? I’m not sure if the two new hosts add anything, they don’t have much personality.

There are good reasons to watch, if you can tolerate the hosts’ obnoxious behaviors. The scenery is magnificent. The races are terrific. Although I winced at Donato’s claim that The Copper Canyon Ultra is the “Holy Grain” of ultra races. Yeah, I think Barkley has that title.

ULTRA HIGH

A few years ago, a 137-mile race was established in the Himalayan mountains. The first year, only one runner finished. The second year, a couple more completed it. Ultra High (2014) is about the race’s third year. This is a well-done doc about the 60-hour race through the highest mountains on earth. And it’s exciting all the way through. We never know who finishes first, but we feel what they go through; the exhaustion, the disturbance of continually passing traffic on the dusty mountain roads, the constant desire to finish in spite of mountain sickness and sometimes, asthma.

The race has grown since the first year. Now there are fully coordinated support teams and doctors throughout. Every athlete is looked after as much as possible. But, they are still racing at the top of the world and it is incredibly dangerous.

This is a great doc and at 70 minutes, perfectly timed. Definitely worth watching!

SOLSTICE

Out of the three, this is easily my favorite. I really love this doc In fact, it’s my very favorite out of all the ones about Western States. Director Andy Hoffman did a superb job showing how a 100-mile rookie took on the challenge in her own way. She wasn’t a professional athlete and had her own physical limitations. But that’s why I liked it so much. Yes, I am inspired by the pros; they’re dedication to their sport is incredible. But I am even more inspired by people like myself who go out and do amazing things. This is one of those stories. If it doesn’t inspire you to go out and do something great, I’m not sure what will. This is a MUST WATCH!

 

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STOP BEING WEAK

There are a couple things in running that irritate me. One is walk/run types who stop ahead of me without notice and the other is irrational, hysterical fear of running outside (normally from females) by oneself.

It used to be in history that women never did anything by themselves. We were considered The Weaker Sex. We were good for staying home, taking care of the children, and cleaning the house. When women gained independence and free choice, it didn’t come without costs, of course in many areas. But I’m just talking about running here.

Crime in the United States is decreasing. We are safer than ever as a country. More women are running and more and more are running by themselves. This would have been unheard of in the 1960s even. But there are still many women who live in fear of being by themselves because they are glued to the nonstop storyline of how horrible it is for women.

I blame the media partially for this. They show the rare kipnapping, the attacks and recent violent crimes nightly on repeat. They do not tell you that crime numbers are declining. And even worse, are the dozens of dramatic television shows focusing on the violent abuse against women. Shows like Criminal Minds only help to magnify the myth of strangers out to prey on females. Viewers who still take their nightly news as truth believe everything fed to them. Their world looks like a monstrous, scary place. Stop watching this stuff if necessary, especially before bed. Watch some lightheated comedy instead.

Sometimes, it is the woman’s partner that exacerbates the situation. A husband tells his wife he doesn’t think it’s safe where she wants to run and unhappily, she doesn’t go running. There’s a lot at work here and definitely something that has to be talked out within the couple. All I’m going to say here is I’m very happy I’m single.

Running is about happiness to me and being fearful is the opposite. Running is also about confronting our fears and sometimes, we have to stare our fears in the face and tell them to Go The Fuck Away.

Now, I’m not saying to go run and not think. Bad things do happen, but if you run smart, you can run alone and enjoy it! Just be a smart solo runner. Here are some tips:

  • Know your surroundings. If possible walk or drive around the area you wish to run if you’ve never visited it before.
  • Wear visible clothing. Black may be cool, but bright colors are better.
  • Turn your music down so you can hear everything around you. But it’s good to have your phone with you
  • Don’t stop to give directions or chat with strangers. Pretend you didn’t hear them and keep running. As a city girl, this is something I do daily, but I don’t think country folk understand; it’s OK not to talk to everyone.
  • Run in the street if it’s quiet and unnerving
  • If it’s dark, always, always wear a headlamp, or some sort of light to see your way and that allows others to see you
  • Run opposite of traffic
  • If someone starts to bother you, scream obscenities at them, as loud as you can, attract attention
  • Bring a loud whistle
  • If you insist on carrying pepper spray, mace, etc, learn how to use it prior to need. Just having it won’t help if you do not have the instincts to use it in the seconds necessary.

We are Runners, not delicate flowers. Stop fearing the world. Be strong. Be fierce. And have fun.

Keep Moving Forward!

YMMV

YMMV….these simple initials, meaning: Your Mileage May Vary, cover a very wide territory. When learning something new, facts and information are given in the most general sense to cover the widest scope possible, so many times it isn’t always a perfect fit.

While studying for my personal trainer’s certificate, we were taught to encourage clients to use a treadmill over running or walking outside. As a runner, this goes against my very core, no my heart.

I understand why the educational system does that. They’re teaching students who most probably will be working at big gyms with lots of clients using lots of equipment and they want those clients to stay in those gyms using all that equipment.

But treadmills? Ug. No wonder people hate running if they’re subjected to those things. A mile on a treadmill feels like 10 miles outside. Treadmills were first designed as torture devices for prisoners and for me, it feels just like torture to run on them.

Running, first and foremost is about freedom. How is it freeing to be stuck on a machine going nowhere? That seems to me to be more like trapped. It’s the opposite of the emotions I want. Even walking isn’t pleasurable when spent on a small, movable surface inside. It just isn’t the same as being outside.

I walk every Saturday with a small group of senior ladies. I couldn’t imagine doing the walk on treadmills. It wouldn’t happen. Part of our fun and joy is being outside, seeing the lovely sights of the city and the togetherness of the walk. We’ve seen some great things too. Sea lions, wind surfers, brown pelicans and sail boats all have been part of them. We’ve watched the exciting ending of a swim race from Alcatraz to Aquatic Beach, we’ve wandered through massive wooden sailing ships docked permanently at Hyde Pier.

“Watch TV while you’re on the treadmill!” People suggest. No. I run or go walking to get away from television, to get away from drama, current events, advertising.

I think if I asked the ladies they’d say the same thing; they wouldn’t go walking if they had to do it on a treadmill. We love the feel of the breeze, even if the weather isn’t always the greatest, but it is our release for the built up stress of the week.

Many people enjoy the treadmill, and I understand that. Maybe they don’t particularly like running, so they can get it done quickly without going outside. Maybe they’re nervous about running outside. These are understandable concerns. But I say to this, just once a week, step outside and go for a run or walk. Find a nice place in your area, listen to music quietly if you like, or if it’s a trail, listen to the birds and the rustle of the wind. Just try it. Once a week. You might find it more pleasurable than you ever thought.

Keep moving forward! Cheers!

HERE & NOW

Buffy

A great tragedy struck recently. Netflix didn’t get a new contract with Fox entertainment so they are cancelling Fox shows effective April 1st. This includes my favorite television show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No shows has been able to show the angst, pains and loves of growing up quite as well as Buffy. Combining searing drama with humor and a little horror, plus even a musical episode, Buffy has been my favorite since its inception.

And now it’s going away…..

Because of its impending disappearance, I’ve been watching as many of the 7 seasons as I can. One reason why I loved this show so much is that it took time to bring out life’s problems and dealt with them in a very well-written, entertaining way, sometimes with vampires, other times with the Apocalypse or even worse. Yes, worse!

So, there was one episode I watched last night, “Normal Again” in Season 6, that really hit home. It was one where the evil trio of the time, Warren, Andrew and Jonathan created a demon who stung Buffy and made her think that her whole life was just her imagination and that she was really confined in a mental hospital. The demon made her think that everything that was real was false and that she should stay in the created world because the false one (the one with her friends in Sunnydale) was part of her sickness.

It would have been easy for Buffy to stay in the safe place, in her imagination. To stay with her mother and father (who in her imagination had not divorced but were happy together). It would have been simple to live in a comatose state, her brain thinking that the pretend world was real.

But she couldn’t. She had an evil to fight and had to find a way to reality.

We also have to fight our way to reality. It’s very easy to dream of what our lives might be like. I find myself doing this a lot, especially when things aren’t going so well, like now. I think of what my life would be like living in an area where I could hear birds singing from my apartment, or hey, having green grass to walk on, instead of hopping over dog poop. I dream of having enough money to pay my bills rather than choose between paying a bill and buying fresh produce. It is a challenge.

But the more we daydream and pull ourselves away from what we need to do, what we MUST do, the more we pull ourselves away from the Here & Now.

We must focus on what is to be done, today, right now, this very moment. If we can complete today’s tasks, then our tomorrow will be brighter. This is a fact!

Keep Moving Forward!