Monday, October 15, 2012


Those three letters, in that combination, a black mark on endurance sports they seem have become.

Feb 2007
I don't empathize with Christian Hesch, just as I didn't for Nina Kraft or John Friend, all of whom seem to have forgotten something about why they were doing what they were doing when they were so busy doing it. I don't attempt to understand anyone else's decision-making when I'm still trying to find a frame of reference to understand my own. I feel no pain for the running community based on one person's decision to take EPO or any other banned substance, nor do I feel like it matters enough to warrant any sort of formal punishment or lifetime ban. I don't condone Christian's actions nor do I condemn them. My feelings lie somewhere in between, in that grey area of nebulous indifference.  Selling your integrity for $40k seems strange to me but so do a lot of things that I do on a daily basis.

The yogger had a great quote today, "If you're serious about training, everything you do and everything you put in your body is intended to be performance enhancing." The rules of what is allowed and what isn't don't seem based in a black and white, right and wrong type of world.

May 2007
Take me for example. I had one season of Flowers-for-Algernon racing. My HCT went from 43 to almost 48 by sleeping in a tent designed to limit the amount of oxygen I breathed as a simulation of sleeping at altitude. After a few weeks of sleeping in said tent, I felt like I had an extra gear and a physical advantage over my previous self.  I was able to train at a level I had never reached previously, and by doing so I prepared my body to run faster than I ever thought I might. Christian's actions, regardless of his intentions, seem not so far removed from my own.

Christian admits to EPO boosting his HCT from 44 to 51 which isn't terribly far off from the boost I saw, a change from a baseline at 43 to almost 48.

Aug 2010
I haven't had my blood drawn in a while but I'd imagine I've returned to something near 43 by now and I certainly feel every bit as human as I usually do, limited by a governor which keeps me from daydreaming about chasing another PR.  So, what keeps me from asking my friend to loan his tent to me again?  I don't have an answer to that question.  It was a complete thrill to race with thicker blood, I certainly felt the effects and I wouldn't object to feeling that way again sometime.  Why is one method of increasing performance OK and another not?  What about the whole silliness with women who were paced by men being stripped of world records?

I guess it all seems arbitrary to me.  Luckily I'm not good enough to waste too much time thinking about the athlete I could be with a little bit of "help" since it still wouldn't be anything of note.  And as I age, I feel like my life has shifted, it has become more about the method than the outcomes, however fatalistic that may seem.

Maybe I am a little sad.  Sad that racing doesn't seem to make much sense to me.  Sad that something I once loved with such a passion seems so unimportant to me now.  But that doesn't have anything to do with Christian Hesch or EPO.

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