Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Constructivist Running: Jesus Jones and the Social Construction of the 7k (9/2/13)

thumbs up for the 2013 shirt...

Race: Run the Goose 7k
Goal Time: 28:30
Actual Time: 29:35 ( 2 second PR)

The 80s ended and it seemed "the world could change in the blink of an eye." In the halcyon days of the decline and fall of the Soviet Empire, International Relations sought a new paradigm over the zero sum Cold War.  One scholar was triumphant in his declaration of "The End of History," while another forebodingly predicted a "Clash of Civilizations."

Lost in the broad, sweeping (and simplistic) declarations of epochial changes in international relations was Alexander Wendt's 1992 critique of neorealism: "Anarchy is what States make of it." Wendt introduces the idea of "social construction" as a driving force in decision making.  The best example I can think of is not mentioned by Wendt.  After World War I, the Allies treated the defeated German, Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires like they would have two centuries or 20 centuries earlier: conquered territory to be divided as spoils of war.  In breaking-up of the Ottoman Empire, the French and the British squabbled over territories that are now Syria, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.  One can exclusively view this from the realist perspective of trading territories and dividing maps like they were a Risk board.  However, one leader - British PM Lloyd George - came from a different social background.  His evangelical Christian upbringing taught him the Bible - old and new - and put the PM in a position where he demanded British control over the biblical Holy Land.  This led to bargains that changed the map more than pure power calculations of a realist trying to gain more land.

I know, I know:  What the hell does this have to do with a 7k?

Well, like Bilbo Baggins told the trolls: "Lots ... and none at all."  The Run the Goose 7k is the smaller and shorter partner race to the Around Cape Ann 25k.  It's step-sister status is coupled with it's odd distance and  odd course.  The first and last mile is down a typical suburban street.  But the 2.3 in the middle is run through a small reservation. ("Reservation" is NewEnglish for a large amount of public land that is between a park and woods...) It is a loop of the Goose Cove reservoir with trails of varying quality and material: asphalt, crushed gravel, near single track, leaping over rocks and wide bike paths.

I know, I know:  What the hell does this have to do with Constructivism?

Well, with it's step sister status and its odd distance, the Run the Goose can be seen as a "fun" race.  One that you do not train specifically for or even plan to race at your best.  This is where my social construction comes in.  I love odd distance races.  I also have a family upbringing that makes me love "duck related items."  The classic (and classy) shirts with the goose are a draw.  (like the best race shirt ever -  2011.)  I like to make a big deal of it.

I had a good plan for the race.  I was going to run the first mile easy and then kick it into gear in the reservation while everyone else was starting to slow because of the trails and trials...

I didn't.

My first mile was 6:12.  And while I slowed in the second and third, I didn't lose ground on anyone. I matched everyone else's slowing in the trails.

When we came out of the reservation, I was able to kick it back up a notch with a finishing mile of 6:02.  Unfortunately, this was never able enough to pass the group of three in front of me who only ran it slightly slower.

In the end, I didn't achieve what I wanted.  But it was 2 seconds faster than last year (whoohoo! 7k PR!!!).  I finished 4th in my age group - 3 seconds behind third.

"right here, right now,  watching the world wake up..."

25k/7k gang at the finish

SRR Shout outs

SRR ladies did awesome in the 7k:
Mariah and Eva took 1st and 3rd in the 30-39
Jenn took 2nd in the 40-49

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