Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fun While Running

Sometimes when I run in Portland, Oregon, I go past a number of street people who hang out along the sidewalk by the Williamette River. One lady who has seen me running a number of times always "talks me up" with the people she is with. Its like she's my buddy, now.

The other day I was running through the streets of the city and had to stop for traffic. A guy was standing there and we talked a little bit about barefoot running, why I don't wear shoes, why it doesn't hurt my feet, etc. All at once there was this same lady, my "bag-lady buddy", who seemed to show up out of nowhere. She jumped into the conversation to defend running barefoot! She was saying things like, "It's good for you!" "He runs like this every day!" I got a real kick out of her!

Oh, the joys of running barefoot never cease!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Reporting Some Barefoot Achievements

I am very happy to report two new achievements for me this week:

First: I ran (barefoot) on a particular course from my home that was very difficult for me when I first tried running it. It has a lot of little gravel rocks strewn over much of the sidewalks and pavement for the first mile. That was followed by a new asphalt bike path that went on for quite some distance. By the time I made it to the nice asphalt, my feet used to get so beat up by the rocks I was not able to enjoy the good part of the run. Then I'd have to return via the same rocky section for a double dose of ouch.

A few days ago I ran the same route and was not even slowed down by the gravel. I just kept true to my form and ran right through/over it. When I got to the asphalt bike path, it felt much smoother than it used to, so I added an extra mile to the course to make it a 5 mile total run.

Second: Today I ran in downtown Portland, Oregon. It has this extremely smooth sidewalk that goes along the Williamette river. Parts of it are fully a 10-rated surface - unbelievably smooth!. Other parts have rougher sidewalks that rate a 7 or 8.

So I ran a 3 mile loop at the fastest pace I've run yet while barefoot, just under 7:00 minute miles. Than I headed up through town across some very rough sidewalks and roads that rate from 3 to 5 in places, for an additional 2 1/2 miles. I focused on form and found that the rougher sections were not only tolerable, they actually felt good! Not too long ago I could barely even walk over them.

At one point I passed a city cop and he yelled, "How far are you running, barefoot!?" I yelled back, "About 6 miles." He said, "You're more of a man than I am!" to which I smiled and waved.

Coming back down out of the city blocks I was going at an accelerated pace, again sailing over some pretty rough sections with ease. Its hard to tell how fast I was averaging because I had to stop and wait for traffic a number of times.

Back down on the waterfront I ran the final 2 mile leg on the smooth stuff, again at a pretty fair clip. My total time running was 65 minutes, which is very encouraging to me, considering all the time I wasted waiting for lights and taking a couple of walking breaks along the way.

I am really excited at the progress I am seeing in my running! I am getting back into condition, my form is coming together, my feet are feeling great, my speed is coming back, and I'm thoroughly enjoying running again. I actually have hope of being able to increase my distances and prepare to run my first in my life marathon. Salt Lake City has a new marathon that's held in late April that is quite a flat course. I'm going to see if I can be ready to try that. If I keep progressing like I am, I might head up north and join the Seattle bunch for Seafair! Vancouver Washington has a 10K in January I might do if I'm in town. It would be my first ever barefoot race.

Hope it doesn't sound like I'm bragging - I'm just so excited that this barefoot stuff is actually working out. I had my doubts at first, but its all becoming seeable for me. Gotta love it!

Ryan
"Vancouver Barefoot"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Couple More Running Thoughts:

Cadence is an important aspect of barefoot running. If you try to take long, loping strides, you end up over-striding, which causes extreme friction on the skin, pounding on the bones, and each forward stride stops your forward momentum. By increasing the cadence, you simply don't have time to stretch your foot out in front of you, so instead, you plant your foot directly beneath your body mass. Some runners carry metronomes to help them keep a good cadence going. The best cadence is 180 steps per minute, 3 per second.

I found that by repeating the word "Am-ster-dam" in my head, it helps set the correct cadence. That got boring, so I started looking for other things to repeat.

I thought of a song I had sung in a church choir, which had the words "Ju-bi-la-te, Ju-bi-la-te, Ju-bi-la-te, Ju-bi-lay" with a nice catchy tune. One time I ended up "singing" "Hal-le-lu-jah, Hal-le-lu-jah,
Hal-le-lu-jah, Shout Hur-ray!" I don't know where that came from, but either version is not quite as boring as just repeating Amsterdam.

Some others I have come up with are the words to "Onward Christian Soldiers" - at least as many of them as I can remember. Sometimes I forget the words to a song and end up mixing parts of different verses all together, or else just make up words that seem to fit. I don't think anyone who knew the song would recognize it after I was done re-mixing it!

In the Stake choir I sing in, we just started rehearsing a song from Handel's Messiah, so lately I have been "singing" to myself something like, "Forrrr un-to us a Child is gi-ven! (Un-to us) A Child is gi-ven" etc. and "Haaaaa-le-lu-jah! Haaaaa-le-lu-jah! Halle-lu-jah! Halle-lu-jah! Ha-a-a-le-lu-jah!" etc.

Those are fun ones to run to. Since I am doing this in my head only, I can sing the different parts, soprano, alto, tenor, bass - whatever.

Whichever of these tricks I feel like doing, they all seem to work pretty well to keep me on a 180 beat cadence.

When I get one of these things going nicely in my head, when my running form is "on" and my cadence is correct, I sometimes zone-out and am not aware of the passage of time or distance. The other day I was just bee-bopping along and realized I had run almost an entire mile without even noticing my surroundings. There is one section of kind of tricky bridge surface I ran across, and when I "came-to" I had already run over it without even thinking about it!

Happy Trails to You!

Ryan
Postlude to My Birthday Run

I started out with a 6 mile run, proudly wearing my new "It Takes BALLS to Run BAREFOOT" T-shirt. At one point I had to wait for a light to change, and two gangbangers, each with a pit-bull dog with them, read my shirt and got a big kick out of it. I think they respected that I was running barefoot.

Then I got the idea stuck in my head that it would be really cool to go run barefoot on Nike's corporate running track! So I jumped in my car, drove out to Beaverton, Oregon, found Nike's office campus, and tried to get in. Security had another opinion, though, and turned me around back out of there. I thought about maybe parking somewhere up the street a ways and trying to run in, but I couldn't see any other way in except right in front of the nose of the security booth. I still might try that tactic, someday. Actually I know a computer programmer at Nike. Perhaps he can get me a "pass" of some kind. If I do, I'm thinking of making a shirt that says, "Hey, Nike! THIS is Free!" :)

So, defeated by Nike's gargantuan might, I drove back to downtown Portland and ran one more three-mile loop before it started raining/hailing and I called it a day. No personal bests today, but a very fun time was had.

Ryan

Monday, November 07, 2005

Today is my birthday - 52 years old!


I am going out and treating myself to a noon-time run, hopefully to score a personal best barefoot distance. My best run so far has been 12 miles barefoot. I generally go for 6 miles per run.


Its a grey, drizzly, colder day today. The bank sign outside my office window says 48 degrees F. (8.8 C) Weather forecasters are saying there is a chance for thunder - kind of rare in these parts. So maybe Nature will be clapping its encouragement of my little exploit!

I made a do-it-yourself tshirt that says, "It Takes BALLS To Run BAREFOOT" with some images of green sole-prints with the balls of the feet colored brown and with RunningBarefoot.Org across the bottom. (See above.) If its not raining too hard I'll wear that just for fun.

Talk to you all later!

Ryan
Vancouver Barefoot

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Mormon Temple

As it says in my introduction, I am a "Mormon." This is a nickname given to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We preach that this is very same church started by Jesus Christ. He started His church in person when he lived on the earth; He restored His church in person when He visited modern day prophets. The church is called "latter-day" saints (members) as opposed to "former-day" saints because we are living in the latter days of this earth's current existence, before "The Millennium" starts. All the signs say this will be soon!

I am a temple worker within the church. We now have many temples built in many areas of the world. Each one of them relies upon voluntary temple workers who donate their time to helping with the activities of the temple. In each temple various rites are administered that prepare people to qualify for and to be prepared to pass by the heavenly sentinels and enter into the highest level of heaven, all conditioned upon each person's personal worthiness. Only church members in good standing are allowed to participate in these temple rites, called ordinances. Members must first establish their qualifications of worthiness by being interviewed by their their ecclestiacal leaders. Members must re-qualify periodically.

As temple workers, we are trained to assist in various areas of the temple where different types of service, ordinances, and covenants are performed. Our service can be as mundane as greeting people quietly and helping to establish a feeling of reverence and solemnity within the temple walls. We also assist with administering ritual washings and annointings, similar to what Aaron, the brother of Moses, received in connection with his priestly calling, and with an ordinance called the endowment, which is a gift of heavenly knowledge necessary to progress to one's full spiritual potential both while in this life and in the life that follows mortal death. We also perform sealings where husband and wife, parent and child are eternally connected as a family structure.

Last Tuesday my wife and I spent about 5 1/2 hours helping with various aspects of the temple ordinances. The feeling one receives when entering the temple is one of joy and serenity. Truly the cares of the world are left outside and the spirit of our Heavenly Father can be felt within. The time spent in temple service always goes by too fast - I wish I could spend more time there than I do. Sometimes my wife and I volunteer to assist on nights other than the one we are assigned to, just for the joy of being in such a hallowed place surrounded by so many spiritually minded people. I hope this is a taste of what eternal life may be like.

It has been said that the temple is the place where mortal man may draw closest to the heavenly presence than anywhere else. I belive that to be true. Peace and love!


Closing out for now,

Ryan

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Rights for the Fetus

Labels


I was thinking about the euphemisms we create to obscure the real issues. For example, homophobia is used to label anyone who has not wholeheartedly adopted the homosexual agenda, even though that word is not even defined by the mental health industry. Progressive is used by those who wish that their social views were more widely accepted, implying that those of us who don't want to move in their direction are outdated or something. Pro Life and Pro Choice are used to define opposite camps of opinion, even though pretty much all of us think we are both pro choice and pro life.

THE ABORTION ISSUE

When I was studying in law school we covered a section in our Constitutional Law class about the right to privacy, automony over one's body, and abortion. The professor was clearly supportive of the reasoning behind Roe vs. Wade and spent most of the 3 days lecturing in support of that line of thinking.

Then, as the discussion on this section was winding down, he added almost as an afterthought, "Well class, what about the fetus? Does the fetus have any rights here?" No one ventured to offer anything in support of the fetus. There is the mentality in school that the professor's vast reserves of wisdom and knowledge are untouchable by the stilted understanding of mere fledgling students.

I could not let this opportunity pass by without something being said for the rights of the unborn person! Suddenly I had a flash of insight and offered roughly the points explained below. When I had finished speaking, the professor started to say something in rebuttal of my arguments, but then stopped himself as he thought about the answer to his rebuttal. He repeated this start-stop process several times, obviously conducting an internal dialogue regarding my points. In the end, he threw his hands up in the air and stated, "Well class, what do you think? Does the fetus win here?" Again, no response from the class. I felt like I had made a good argument in support of favoring the right to life of the fetus over the right to abortion by the woman.

This is a summary of my points that I made in class in support of rights for the fetus:

Well-Founded Constitutional Principles

Legalized abortion is based on the premise that a woman has the right to autonomy over her own body, which comes from her Constitutional right to privacy. The Constitution contains concepts that are considered “well-founded” or “long-standing,” which are those that were contemplated by the original drafters and expressly stated in the Constitution. The Due Process clause in the Fifth Amendment is one of these. It prohibits the federal government (and States, via the Fourteenth Amendment) from denying Persons their Life, Liberty or Property without due process of law and equal protection under the law.

Judicially Created Constitutional Principles

The “right to privacy” is not expressly stated in the Constitution. It is not among the well-founded or long-standing Constitutional concepts. Rather, it is a concept that has developed over time through judicial interpretation of the Constitution.

Personhood

At the core of the abortion question is whether an unborn human is a “Person.” Tied in with this question is the concept of viability. A viable fetus is more likely to be recognized as a “Person.” Therefore, it is more difficult to justify aborting a viable unborn human compared with aborting a fetus that has not yet reached viability in its development. But viability is not a given, static point of development, especially considering the ever increasing refinements in medical technology.

In considering whether a fetus should be recognized as a “Person” we must first know how that concept is defined. A Person is first a human being. Are any other qualifiers necessary to be legally considered a Person?

Consider some of the reasons why it is argued a fetus should not be considered a Person. It isn't viable. It isn’t self-aware. It doesn’t have the capacity to appreciate the quality of life. It is not capable of self-determination or self- actualization. None of these reasons by themselves are sufficient to be considered a required qualifier to support the legal concept of Person.

Viability.

Viability - the capacity to exist separate from the mother’s womb - is changing with advances in medical technology. It is not too difficult to imagine the development of a human being from conception to “birth” occurring completely outside the mother’s body. Some would argue that a fetus is not viable if it requires the intervention of life-support devices and medications, but this is not consistent with our other concepts of Personhood. Consider the stroke or heart attack patient whose life depends on medical intervention. That person is not deemed less than a Person because of his or her medical needs.

Appreciation of the Quality of Life

Incapacity to appreciate the quality of life. This same factor arises in medical cases where a person is rendered unconscious or comatose. It also arises in persons who are born extremely deformed and mentally deficient. It even applies to completely healthy newborns during the first couple of years of life. We don’t withdraw the status of Person from such people for this reason.

Self-Awareness

Same argument as above. There are many people who are considered to be fully Persons who are not completely capable of self-awareness.

Self-Determination/Self-Actualization

This applies to the same category as described above – the new-born or the physically and mentally handicapped. It also applies to every child who hasn’t yet arrived to his or her teen years. There are many, many people who are considered to be fully Persons who are not capable of self-determination or self-actualization.

The Humanity of the Fetus

Still, we are faced with the question of whether a fetus is a Person. Is it a human being? It can be positively proved that a fetus is made of human tissues, and not dog, cat, pig, horse, whale or any other kind of mammalian tissue. The fetus – even if not yet considered fully human – is destined without doubt to become human. Through blood and genetic testing, it can be proved to perfect certainty that the fetus is of human origin and with nearly perfect certainty the identity of the persons whose sexual union produced the fetus.

Still, for argument sake, suppose the fetus is not yet accepted to actually or fully be a Person – that it possesses merely a portion of or the potential for Personhood. When considering the question of abortion, what we are faced with is a balancing test between two Constitutional rights. The right of the mother, a recognized, legal Person, to privacy and autonomy over her body, and the right of the fetus, “nearly or potentially a Person”, to his or her very life. How do we decide which of these rights should take precedent?

A Contest of Conflicting Rights

The right to life is a long-standing, well-founded Constitutional right held by Persons. The right to privacy and autonomy is a newer, judicially created Constitutional right. If we must sacrifice one of these rights to the other, logic dictates that the newer, judicially created right yield to the long-standing, well-founded right.

Consider the consequences of this analysis.

1) If the mother, a Person, must give up her right to privacy and autonomy, the harm done to her is a measure of emotional and physical pain from childbirth, even a remote risk of losing her own life. Most women recover from the emotional and physical pains of childbirth. Medical technology has reduced the risk of death from childbirth to a very low occurance. The question of whether the child born to her would be raised in a wanting and caring atmosphere is answered by adoption. There are many capable, financially and emotionally secure people who earnestly want to adopt babies.

2) If the fetus, a near-Person, must give up her right to life, then the harm done to her is non-existence. Should we, as a society, force a potential-Person to give up her long-standing and well-founded Constitutional right to life so that a legal Person may enjoy her newer, judicially created Constitutional right to privacy and autonomy?

It comes down to whether we as a society wish to promote the lesser, judicially created right of privacy and autonomy over the long-standing, well-founded right to enjoyment of life. It comes down to whether we wish to promote the certain death of a potential Person over the inconvenience of a legal Person.

Other Constitutional Rights at Stake

Mention is rarely made of the rights or desires of the father of the fetus. The Constitution also guarantees the right of Persons to contract and associate. This is also a well-founded and long-standing right guaranteed by the Constitution. This right includes the right to enjoy family life. The father is considered financially responsible for the welfare of children he helps create through an interpretation of the right to contract. When a man impregnates a woman, he is considered to have entered into a binding contract with his offspring to provide a level of material welfare during his or her childhood. Should the mother’s exercise of her newer, judicially created right to enjoy privacy and autonomy through obtaining an abortion override both the father’s and the fetus’ long-standing, well-founded contractual right to enjoy family life?

Conclusion

By this analysis, I believe that logic and reason compel upholding the right of the fetus to enjoy life in the abortion question. Abortion does great harm to our Constitution, to the concept of family integrity and to the concept of humanity.