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Wednesdays were Wonderful

And we still remember. Here the excitement of weekdays past lives on.

Friday, the 18th of December, 2009


We are all wusses now! Unless we step up to this challenge: running a marathon in Antarctica. Did our last entry start out noting the dark and cold? We’ve been trumped by this Joker.

Sounds scary? Well, this article will mellow you out.

Wednesday, the 16th of December

Turnout picks up a little even though it is (obviously) still dark and cold, with a new moon and approaching the longest night of the year. But nobody wanted to miss the post-run fueling at Sandy Roberts’ place, which was large and comfy enough to accomodate a full house of Kings and Queens of and .

There were more small four-legged critters for the youngsters, who were again at least as well-behaved as the adults. The beyond-great nutrition testifies to the one of the great benefits of exercise: enjoying food. There was a present exchange that got smiles and laughs from all, with gifts ranging from practical (scarves) to luxury (कामसूत्र edible body powder). And of course the Tiger Woods jokes were unstoppable. How can you resist, with golf terms like “tiger”, “wood”, “holed out”, “stroke”, “approach shot”, “lie”, all now in fair play. Best we’ve heard (that’s printable): He who drives well in fairway does not always fare well in driveway.

In other sporting news, our friends at SBAA have a page featuring the fastest runs by Santa Barbara men and women in 2009. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of Groovers represented, including Ricky, Desa, Sarah, Lisa, Mariann (a newslist subscriber but sadly rare runner!), Amy, and Joslynn. It must be the Wednesday training that gives them the talent!

The weekly reports here will be taking a vacation break, but the runs will not. Historically there have been people showing up throughout the holidays, though perhaps in smaller numbers. Keep the flame going!

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Wednesday, the 9th of December

A pretty scant turnout, just a handful of stalwart runners for this dark Wednesday eve. We managed to keep the tradition alive, but just barely! Could be the fallout from the weekend’s marathon, of course.

Or perhaps they were all just angling to be first to the post-run party at Andrew’s place. The lure of Indian food (with added backup of larges from Pizza Mizza), salad and baked goods (thanks Desa!), chocolates (thanks Kelly!), and plenty to drink (thanks everyone!) brought them out of the woodwork. Liz and Dave brought cheery seasonal poinsettias and chairs. Stacy brought a bottle of wine from Merkin Vineyards, autographed by the vintner himself, lead singer for the alt-rockers Tool.

People and food kept flowing in. Two young ladies were very well-behaved and got to know Audrey, the furry friend who talks with her tail. A new Ironman tattoo was still too fresh for the pool, but not for admirers. We heard about more upcoming parties (Natira and Kelly) and planned out the forthcoming weekend. All the men were handsome and all the women beautiful. And when it was over the place was as clean as when it started. That’s real friendship!

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Sunday, the 6th of December

Νενικήκαμεν! We have won! Whether or not Pheidippides actually said this, or ran the first marathon, we all are winners with the first Santa Barbara International Marathon. We had excellent weather, good organization... and great hearts all around. Groovers Ricky Ho, Tekle Menelik, Laura Turner, Fred Maggiore, Desa Mandarino, Liz Groom, Sarah Mandes, David Groom, Lisa Dunn, Ann Marie Donnelly and Sandy Roberts finished the race looking pretty darn good. Practice, dedication, focus... it all adds up. To twenty-six miles and some change. Congratulations all! Results are here.

Wednesday, the 2nd of December

Endings or beginnings? We all came back from our various Thanksgiving experiences, but we’re about to launch more holiday plans anew. There were new Iron-dudes and dames aplenty... in this exceptional atmosphere, who hasn’t just done something special? Even if it amounts to just driving back from Napa without crashing into something. Laura V got the perfect parking spot right at the cusp of the event, and we all set off in the brisk night, with the full moon in our faces.

We didn’t notice any extra facial hair on Brian, so we were probably safe from werewolves all the way to the Bird Refuge and back. But that was hardly the focus of our attention. The real point of this evening was the post-run party at Sterling’s place. He did provide, as promised, greasy beer and cold pizza, and everybody was satisfied. It was hard to imagine a cooler group of people, or a better mood for them to be in. (Oh Desa, pardon the preposition at the end of that sentence!) Laura T’s kids provided the bounce and reminded us of what sofas and cushions are really for. And somehow in all the fracas did not break a thing. That’s good parenting.

We heard a few Christmas carols plunked and plinked out on the piano, along with a rad Chopsticks by Jayna. Andrew got the bass line of “Linus and Lucy” going, but that was about as much of the Charlie Brown Christmas that Sarah was going to get. ☹ There was a cat present that got petted by many and was not stepped on. There was a strange blue substance reputedly derived from wormwood, that had us all channeling Baudelaire. Absinthe really does make the heart grow fonder.

Rumor, probably well-founded, has it that Andrew will be hosting the post next week. You can find your way to his place via this link. Having been pre-empted by pizza this week, he will be ordering out Indian. He will feed all your chakras!

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Thursday, the 26th of November

We stand corrected... When Dave’s name didn’t show up in the online athlete tracker we figured he wasn’t entered. Must be incipient Alzheimer’s, coulda sworn he was trainining for it. But no, Dave Groom, leading Groover, was in the thick of things, and apparently it was pretty thick. He tells all on the SB Tri Club web site.

Monday, the 23rd of November

A clean sweep for Barbarians! Everyone finished, and (by the numbers) did so smoothly. We bet there are any number of good stories to be told, and look forward to hearing them. Congratulations all!

Sunday, the 22nd of November

Go, Iron-Groovers! You can follow the exploits of our buds online at Looks like they all made it out of the water in fine shape. And Kyle is tearing it out on the bike! The names to search for are Kyle Visin, Dave Groom, Josh Schultz, Karen Egerman, Sarah Mandes, and Sandy Roberts. Go Groovers Go!

Wednesday, the 18th of November

A blustery Winds-day, with the wind blowing in the unusual direction of from the east, into our faces as we started running. And as luck would have it, there was some sort of construction going on by Los Baños pool, with grit and dust stirred up everywhere. But we plunged right through it, faster on the way back with the tailwind. Laura ran with her daughter in a stroller... and was still faster than almost everyone. And as we all know (or will now), we inherit only our mothers’ mitochondria, so we expect her daughter and Desa’s GiGi to be similar whirlwinds.

But this evening the focus wasn’t the run but the party, for birthday boy Ricky Ho. Our speedster is getting into the tough part of his age group, but next year will clock over into another one. Hard to say, though, whether it’s better to be at the top or bottom of next year’s (35-39) age group. But his competitors are the ones who have to worry.

We had probably the biggest Groover crowd in memory: over 30 people showed up at Dargan’s, the Irish pub that probably needed a few more pints of Guinness after the distressing loss to France in the World Cup qualifiers. Was it soccer or volleyball they were playing? When we were there, the big screen had another qualifying match between Portugal and some team that looked like “Bih” to our aging eyes. British Honduras? Brian was astute enough to point out that they changed their name to Belize. He would have done well at the old Dargan’s trivia night. (It was actually Bosnia.)

Lisa was first in line to get one of the new Android-based cell phones from Motorola, and was demonstrating its cool features. Oh wow, it has a night-sky map that orients itself based on the direction you are pointing the screen. We thought we were too jaded but no, there are new cool things in this world! Sam voiced the thoughts of many saying he’s looking forward to large-touch-screen devices, from Apple or whoever. Your imagination seems to be the limit with them. Andrew would do well to ensure future employment and sharpen his iPhone programming skills. Got cool ideas? How about some sort of Nite Grooves app?

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Wednesday, the 11th of November

Lots of stories about weekend races, sounds like everybody did well. And are still running smoothly! People are all showing up with headlamps now, it’s just the thing to do. Pretty soon we we will get down to that mine. Meanwhile, watch out for those tree roots!

At the Brew Co Lounge, we heard about the Veterans’ Day holiday doings of Desa, Gianna, Liz, and Emily, who went out and about. Gi Gi skinned her knee twice but came back strong and made her mama (justly) proud. Amy graded papers... the never-ending treadmill for teachers. How much attention do you have to pay? But they do notice. Dave gave Perry the low-down on everybody at table, so look out, she’s on to you!

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Tuesday, the 10th of November

Sportsmanship. As Justice Potter Stewart famously said about porn, it’s hard to define, but we know it when we see it. Here’s an example where it’s conspicuously lacking.

On the lighter side, now your bathroom scale can announce its results to all your friends. Bug or feature?

Sunday, the 8th of November

First off, congrats, props, kudos, and cheers to all the Groovers who ran the Santa Barbara Half-Marathon yesterday. Conditions were perfect, hills weren’t so steep after all, and you got free parking. Results are here for all to peruse. And photos, courtesy (obviously) from SB Pix.

Now that the sun is waning, we need to watch every photon. Here are some tips for running in the dark.

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Wednesday, the 4th of November

Dark, dark, dark! Not, not dark matter (if it even exists), just the darkness that comes after the time change. Now we have to really be dedicated to arrive at 6 PM on a Wednesday evening wondering if anybody else will be crazy enough to show. But yes! Plenty of company, both two- and four-legged, to dash along in the dusk. Lots of people had headlamps, and they were needed.

And lots of people preparing for various races over the weekend, so we expect to hear lots of race stories next week. With happy endings, we hope.. so don’t trip over the finish line! Laura Turner pushed one of her daughters in a stroller at a pace that was definitely not strolling. We heard chatter of the fast guys just “dropping in” to ultra-long races and then dropping out just before the finish. (So as not to annoy the officials.) What’s a few 50 miles or so between friend?

After our run, we hit up the Neighborhood, which was uncharacteristically quiet, partly because people were paying attention to the World Series game. All our vibes couldn’t help the Phillies though. Jody is back again from Alaska. Kelly’s friend Michael told us about how his best Nite Moves 5k came after a wild hash run the previous night. What kind of example is that for us athletes tapering for this weekend? Everybody and their uncle had their cell phones out sharing Halloween photos. Some of us really got down... but the evidence won’t be seen here online. What happens wherever stays wherever; in this case it really was Vegas, where the phrase started.

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Saturday, the 31st of October

Boo! Happy Halloween all!

Many of us cycle, and have had some close calls with those heavier vehicles on the road. This article in the LA Times mentions a recent run-in on Mandeville Canyon, which I used to ride frequently. Hope the driver gets the book thrown at him.

Wednesday, the 28th of October

A great turnout on a windy Wednesday evening — and the lightest and brightest it’s going to be for a while. Next week it will be dark and scary with all the ghosts and goblins leftover from Halloween following us. Or will it be just the leftover treats that we will be carrying on our thighs that slow us down?

But it wasn’t so windy as we made our way along the waterfront, it died down and let us be. Perry found the Web site, figured it all out, and joined us, and is now a total Groover. Desa came to pull the front pack along at a brisk pace... she seems to violate some physical law, becoming more energized from her students. The fast guys went fast, and even the slower guys were pulled along.

Après run, we all converged at Dargans and celebrated Andrea’s birthday with all of three cakes. Take your pick! Does that represent the three sports? Or that Andrea is 30 forever? (She probably gets carded.) Billy and Gianna joined us too. That little girl will probably out run/swim/bike us all some day. She talked most to Emily, who is closer to her age and more like a “real person” to her.

Amy will dress up for Halloween but there are spoken and probably unspoken rules about how far to go when you’re a schoolteacher. Being a pumpkin is safe. Vampirella? Maybe not. Taj is getting in character as some sort of a head-banger. He kinda looks like that already. Michelle is trying out her new braces. We didn’t notice what she ate, but it probably wasn’t salt-water taffy or corn on the cob. Her smile will only get prettier.

Since the NY Marathon is coming up, there is a plethora of good articles about running. Here’s yet another one, about pacing. And for good measure, a great interview with Christopher McDougall about running barefoot. Our roving friend and personal trainer China Cisney e-mails that she has read his book and loved it.

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Tuesday, the 27th of October

Great minds think alike, and great topics seem to hit the news all at the same time. Here’s another article about how distance running is natural to us.

Saturday, the 24th of October

Sour grapes? Insecurity? Ego? An article in the New York Times interviews fast marathoners who think that slower ones should call themselves something else.

We’ll weigh in with the Nite Grooves perspective. There is considerable evidence that we evolved to jog — that is, to run along at a conversational pace, for long distances. We are (metabolically) dogs, who run down our prey cooperatively, at lower speeds, for long periods of time, rather than the speedy cats. (Like both, we relish our naps afterward. But do animals like smoothies?)

We have no beef against people who want to race rather than pace. They are special. We all know it. They get medals and respect. What more do they want?

And if they want to go there, we have to recall that the first marathoner, Phidippides, died from exertion after having run a total of more than 300 miles in a few days. Until this starts happening today, the three-hour marathoners, admirable though they are, should stop throwing stones. Their houses are just as vitrine.

Wednesday, the 21st of October

Sarah and Ann-Marie looked recovered from Sarah’s birthday bash over the weekend. We partied in the Highlands, and then in the lowlands of Joe’s. In the lowlands you have to stand up most of the time, which is a challenge the more you drink.

Lots o’ runners showed up, some going this way, some going that. Matt did a pre-run run, Laura V ran a different direction, even people who weren’t “with” us knew us, and all wound up in the same place at the end. Annie joined us, along with her son, and stuck it out all the way to the far turnaround. (And back.) During the run, Perry from Philly caught up, asked questions, and might run with us next week. Peter and Ty caught up with and passed the pack. Two legs good, four legs better, six legs best!

We felt sporty, and headed to Sharkeez after the run. It’s playoff time, and the deciding game between the Phillies and Dodgers was on. Not such a good day for the blue. Amy gave them all the support you’d think they’d need, but it wasn’t enough. Greg showed up to help us with the beer. That’s altruism.

Brian told us about being stalked in the public rest rooms. He probably just has a wide stance. Laura told the story about how Craig pretended to be a road-raging madman... and had her and Mandy fooled for a few long-lasting seconds. But really he’s a softy. Just ask Diane.

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Friday, the 16th of October

A milestone! Our groovy page has been viewed more than 10,000 times. We hope it’s not just one gerbil in a wheel. Thanks for all the attention. We are the center of the week, if not the universe.

Wednesday, the 14th of October

The weather was threatening, but, like the mailmen of yore, we were undaunted. Jody showed up, fresh (and white) from Alaska. She just had faith in the time and place that are Nite Grooves, and we didn’t let her down. As we ran, we learned that there are runs this weekend, at Lake Los Carneros and at Montecito Union School. Sterling is under the gun because of upcoming tax filing dates, but the flip side of that is he has stretches of free time at other points in the yearly cycle. Natira and Andrew both have (or are one degree of separation away from) lake cabins in the Oregon woods. Swimming, snowshoeing, X-country skiing anyone?

We reconvened at Dargans, formerly a hot-spot for trivia nights and open mikes. (See historical photos with Andrew jamming.) Now it’s just us. Brian told a (possibly tall) tale about the rat that invaded his house when he was a kid. The trap that the exterminator set could have taken off a hand. We see from the evidence that Brian actually took the advice and kept his hands in his pockets.

Tek showed up to eat, and told us about how he pulled a Sarah. (Sarah’s going to kill me for this.☹) That is, he finished a long race, didn’t hydrate enough, had some food and beer, and then passed out. Then a day after he left the E.R., I.V. tracks probably still on his arms, his house burned down. Drama doesn’t happen on a small scale here in Santa Barbara.

We got to talking about the etymology (no, not entomology though that’s a worthy topic) of cougar, thinking that we all qualify, or will. Is there an “official” definition? Well, bien sûr. There are grades and gradations, evidently as many layers as the onion. But do we make the grade?

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Wednesday, the 7th of October

Quite a turnout, of course the weather was very cooperative: clear and cool. Definitely the equinox has passed and we are into Fall, which always feels like running season. Laura V took time out from stimulating the economy (buying durables) to show her endurance with us. She brought some cousins from the Midwest, where they don’t have any accent. Stacy came out even though she is running the Long Beach Marathon this weekend. When we set out, bystanders had to stand back in awe of our size. What do you call a group of Groovers? A pod? A posse?

By the time we finished, it was dark — time to get those headlamps out already. And the time change hasn’t even occurred yet.

We reassembled at the Brew Co Lounge and celebrated Karen’s 30th birthday. She doesn’t look a day over... well, let’s just say we wondered if Josh was in trouble with the law. Laura V, on the other hand, had to suffer rumors about being of “a certain age” that were floated on Facebook. But those who dished it out definitely got it back.

Kelly’s mom was here visiting us too, and we told her how the very existence of Nite Grooves depends on her, because she takes care of our legs. As usual, Jayna and “Capability” Jones looked fresh as daisys. J works with “materials” which makes some people ask “Oh, are you a fashion designer?” In fact, she is an accomplished seamstress, but Andrew and Brian somehow got her to admit that she knew the difference between a boson and a fermion. It’s all about not being in the same place at the same time. You’d think that would be simple, but no...

Got body issues? Exacerbate them by going to ESPN’s Body Issue. Just like the original Greek gymnasts (γυμνός = naked), they show (almost) all. And just like the Hellenes, they get paid for it. (Those Greeks did everything first, right Stacy?)

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