Friday, May 20, 2011

After 35+ years, Runner's World doesn't want my money

Actually, I think I am being kind in framing the situation that way (in the headline).


I didn’t receive my April issue of Runner’s World. Looking at my March issue, I see that the expiration date is Feb 2012. However, I don’t remember paying for the renewal, which they usually ask for in December or so. Thinking I renewed expecting a follow-up asking for payment that might’ve gotten lost, I headed to their website. For the last couple of years, at least, I’ve paid my renewal on their web page. Having been through this before, I knew it was going to be difficult to get to that page, but I found it after all.


[Since I am signed in to the web page, why on earth could they not have a “Renew here” or “Your account” page or something easily accessible? Only one of many queries which add to my astonishment that this company somehow is making enough of a profit to stay in existence.]


Once I wind my way through to see the status of my subscription, I get conflicting information. On the top of the page, it shows Feb 12 as my expiration and says no payment is due. Yet, just below that, it says “Awaiting Payment” in red letters. Unfortunately, it is only in that top section that there is (or could be) a button to press to actually make a payment.


So I hunt around for how to contact them. I fill out my info and send a message through their online system. I don’t get any reply. After a couple of days, I do the whole thing again. This time I get the automated “we have lots of e-mails” message. Okay, at least they got my message. I wait a couple of more days. Nothing. So I go through the whole process again and send another message. Several days later, I get a reply saying that my subscription is through some other service and I have to call some 800#. I reply that this is untrue, I paid my subscription right here on this page just last year and besides, I’m in Africa and cannot afford the phone call (a 30 minute call would cost $50 USD, or 10% of my monthly allowance). No reply. I go back to the website and send a message again. Automated reply, then nothing. I go back to the website and send a message again. Several days later, I get the exact same message I got before. I make the same reply (perhaps with a bit more snark this time around).


The third time we go through this routine, I ask for my message to be passed up to someone who can actually do something. No reply.


I go back to the website and try a couple of more times. Nothing.


I have been a Runner’s World subscriber since my father first gave me a subscription when I was 12 years old. That was a long, long time ago. Do they care? Nope.


Now I understand why some (many?) in the RunNet community believe that RW is just a mouthpiece for its corporate sweatshop overlords.


It’s too bad, too, ‘cause I’ve always loved the human interest stories in RW and I was really into the new series by Marc Parent and loved, loved that one of my favorite people, Peter Sagal, was a regular contributor. Oh well, at least I have podcasts. And I might check out Marathon & Beyond magazine. . .

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Reminder: Run for the World!

I’m about to head out for my weekly long-run. I’m in Windhoek today and I’m scheduled to run 18 miles. I may do less than that because, frankly, Windhoek is not a great place to run (kinda like LA – all highway). So I was thinking of all of YOU who have not yet sponsored me in my effort to raise money for CUSO-VSO. So far, I’m about 20% to my goal, which isn’t very far since my run is happening in THREE WEEKS! Please, if you haven’t sponsored me, head on over to either the US$ page: :  or the Canadian $ page:, and show your love!


I’ll be running a half-marathon (13.1 miles/21 km) on my own along the byways of Katima Mulilo and if you sponsor me, not only will you be supporting an excellent organization doing work that is making a sustainable difference, but I promise to dedicate a kilometer to thinking of you!





Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Of becoming animal, audiobooks, honey, Egoscue and 16 miles

“For too long we’ve closed ourselves to the participatory life of our senses, inured ourselves to the felt intelligence of our muscled flesh and its manifold solidarities. . . Only by welcoming uncertainty from the get-go can we acclimate ourselves to the shattering wonder that enfolds us. This animal body, for all its susceptibility and vertigo, remains the primary instrument of all our knowing, as the capricious earth remains our primary cosmos.”  David Abram, Becoming Animal


This week, I started reading David Abram’s newest book, Becoming Animal. This quote comes from the introduction. I’m sure I will be sharing more as I go along. I love his exploration of knowing through “this animal body”—not just knowing the world, but knowing God through our senses as well. I find it very easy to look at children/babies and animals and trees and plants and all of nature and see God manifest. I feel God in the wind and the rays of the sun. I see God in the moon and the stars. But for me personally, all those things are “out there,” “not me.” And so I am interested to explore with Abram becoming more of the animal that I am, and perhaps in this way discover an avenue to knowing God in a much more real, palpable and lasting way.


I successfully completed my scheduled 16-miler yesterday and I think I found the road that I had gone looking for a few weeks ago. As you can see from the photo, it is a nice sandy road that goes on and on (though I did get to the end of it and found a couple of other roads). This is such a typical scene here in Caprivi—sandy road, scrub and trees lining both sides. As you might imagine, sandy soil is not great for growing many things, so vegetables are not very plentiful here. We have tomatoes, squash/pumpkins of various kinds, sweet potatoes and leafy greens, but the terrain seems to be pretty good for cows and this week again I had the chance to share the road with a herd, though this did not involve a direct confrontation, for which I was quite glad. The other photo is me at about 10-miles, all decked out and sweaty. Like the shirt? I love this shirt—the graphic (hopefully you can read it by enlarging the photo), the material (soft, but still technical, very wicking), the fit. It’s Oiselle and it was shockingly expensive. I never would have bought it except I really liked the graphic and the fit. But I think it may be my absolute favorite shirt.


Since I was running on Sunday morning (rather than Saturday), there weren’t many people about, but three times during the run, I met up with kids. Twice it was smart-aleck boys who just played at running to imitate me, but once it was a group of girls who actually did run with me for 800 meters or so until one of them lost her shoe. I’m happy to encourage them and particularly to model for the girls a grown woman being this physically active and doing something fun. Depending on their income level, their mothers are likely pretty active or extremely active, but it’s all work.


I’m still not able to sync my Garmin, which is quite frustrating, though I did actually get an e-mail from support. They told me to un-pair and re-pair the watch with the computer, which of course I’ve already done several times. . . But I replied, so maybe they’ll get back to me with something more useful. Nonetheless, I did my full schedule this week – 6 mi on Monday, a 6 mi Tempo run Thursday, 5 mi on Friday and then 16 on Sunday. I also did a bit of yoga and did my Egoscue exercises all but one day.


Egoscue exercises? Ah, my lower back has been bothering me. It got quite better when I was sleeping on a very firm mattress, but my mattress now is much softer and so it is hurting again. So I was looking for a more permanent solution. I had a couple of sessions at the Balance Center in Palo Alto when I was in the US, working on my posture and I learned that my pelvis tips under in an abnormal way. It’s disconcerting, however, because when I stand the way I should, I feel like I’m sticking my butt way out. A check in the mirror shows clearly that this is not even remotely the case, but it still feels funny to me. At the Balance Center I got good instruction about how to stand, sit and lay down, but no exercises to help my body get back in balance. The lower back (right side) issue clearly causes tightness in my glutes and piriformis and hamstrings (oy! During my run, my glutes got so tight they started to really ache). A couple of weeks ago, I saw an article about the Egoscue method and checked out a website which led me to Amazon and several books by Pete Egoscue. I downloaded and read one of the books available for the Kindle and it was perfect for me. It was very clear how to analyse my situation and he gives a series of exercises to do, based on your condition. Of course, he says that, at least as long as you are in pain, you should stop running (if you have my condition) and only do his exercises, but that’s not gonna happen with me. However, I’ve decided to commit to doing the exercises for at least 30 days (or 25 out of the next 30 days) and see if they make any difference. If I feel they are helping/I am making progress, I’m happy to continue. It’s interesting because there are 7 exercises in my series (or actually 11, since one exercise is actually 5 exercises) which sounded very doable to me. No problem, I can do those when I get home before I cook dinner, I thought. It felt, in my head, that they would take 20-30 minutes. Ha! Actually they take nearly an hour, I realized after doing them a couple of times. But I’m quite hopeful. Some of the exercises don’t feel like much, but a few of them really reveal my weaknesses (like severe hamstring weakness).


After the run, I was quite wiped, but I could feel myself stiffening up. So, I put on my compression calf sleeves, did some yoga (focusing on lunges, which was good) and later did my Egoscue exercises. The truth is that when I run most of this stuff doesn’t bother me. Yes, on a long run, I get a bit achy in the lower back or glutes these days, but for 6 or 8 miles, I have no problems. Even my Achilles tendon problem (caused by the Merrell shoes) is tight and sore for about 5 minutes or so until it warms up, then I have no trouble at all. This is why I keep running. When I am in the office, I notice that sitting for a long time hurts more than anything. This makes me grateful that I am forced to walk 20 minutes to town to get something to eat at lunchtime (and 20 minute back). I can get very sucked in to whatever I am working on and not even get up to pee for hours on end. Not good for the back, hamstrings, etc.


I had a great new experience yesterday—I listened to an audiobook while I was running. I’ve never done that before and always thought that without the beat of music, the sound would drag me down. But I have been listening to “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath and it has been quite interesting, so I thought I would give it a try. It was great! I wasn’t really fond of the narrator, I wish it was the authors, but the book was very interesting and made the long road go by fairly easily.


And finally, I had bought a couple of Honey Stinger gels before I came over to Namibia. I had tried some of the Honey Stinger chews, which were awesome (though I didn’t try them while running, just as candy). I’ve never been a gel fan, but I liked the honey idea and these are pretty “clean” as fake food goes. I’ve tried Clif Bloks but, though I find them quite palatable, they stick in my mouth more than I like. When I was in the DR Congo, I used to take small mandarin oranges on a run, which work quite nicely, but they don’t have those here. So I thought I’d give these Honey Stingers a try (though I also brought along a banana, in case it was horrible). I have one regular, one with Ginseng and one with Chocolate. I took the Ginseng one. After an hour, I stopped to drink a bit and took half the gel and it was not bad at all. The best part, aside from the flavor (honey basically, though not as sweet as regular honey) was that it was more liquidy than gels usually are. So it went down very smoothly. In fact, I didn’t even need water, though I made sure to drink some because I know that is necessary to get it into the bloodstream. Forty minutes later, I took the rest of the packet. I had no GI distress and I completed the 16 miles with very little walking, so I think that was good. I’ll try the regular and the chocolate and let you all know how that goes. But I think I’m a fan.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sponsor me in the Run for the World!!

REMINDER and update to fix weblinks.


Hello everyone!


Did you know that CUSO-VSO ( and I are the same age? Neither did I until last month. But it’s true. In 2012, we will both be 50 years old. Amazing!


As part of the festivities, CUSO-VSO has created the Run for the World – an opportunity for people to run and get sponsors to raise money in honor of the 50th anniversary of sending volunteers to share their skills with people and organizations in the developing world. Run for the World is focused around Ottawa Race weekend which is 28-29 May, 2011, when there will be a series of races in the city at its most beautiful time of the year.


Of course, I’m not in Ottawa, but I wanted to participate. It is, after all, the Run for the World, and I’m in the world, aren’t I?


So, I am going to run a half-marathon here in Katima Mulilo that same weekend – my very own personal Run for the World! Since there won’t be crowds lining the streets here to cheer me on, I am really hoping YOU will take on that challenge and cheer me on by sponsoring me!


My goal is to raise $3,000 which will support another volunteer to take the leap to share her/his skills with brothers and sisters here in Africa or in Nepal or in Papua New Guinea or in Honduras or any of the many countries around the world where CUSO-VSO works. As you know, I love CUSO-VSO and really believe that we are doing great, sustainable work in the world, that’s why I am on my second assignment with them.


To sponsor me, you can visit my personal page – I have two pages, one for US donations and a second for Canadian donations because I am lucky enough to have friends all over! Please visit the page appropriate for you where you can make a secure online donation using your credit card or paypal. Click on the link below:


If you are in the US or want to contribute in USD:


If you are in Canada or want to contribute in CDN:


You can leave me a message and make a gift. To get more information on how YOU can participate in Run for the World, please visit


Thanks for your support!