Friday, April 27, 2007


The next several days are quite full, thank you. Activities range from a pasta potluck with Runner’s World editors (don’t forget to buy your June issue) to a flight to London to cooking breakfast for the sweet people I live with. There’s a half-marathon and a pint or two in there as well. This past week, and the one coming up, has had the same quality as those first few weeks with a newborn. (Although I did manage to get a haircut the other day, I don’t remember how or when.)


I may not be a joiner (or maybe I am), but there’s one club of which I’m proud to be a member. That’d be the 7:19 Club, a local, informal, occasional disglomerization of runners who meet on weekend mornings to run at 9:30am. I mean 7:19.

As most things do where I live, the club grew from a commute — couple of guys talking about running on the train, couple of guys overhearing them, agreements to meet up. And then, unable to fix on 7 or 7:30, an off-the-cuff suggestion of 7:19 seemed right. (There are also references built in – there’s a 6:20 Club outside of St. Louis, and a movie where Pre’s coach Bowerman calls his team meetings for :28 past the hour, to encourage attendance via curiousity. But mostly, it was convenient and easy to remember.)

My post seeking running buddies on the local runner’s club board got me an invite, and two years later, running with these folks has motivated me to run even more than the fear of dying has. There’s the fast guy, who leads the group and runs a zany trail race in the Catskills every year; there’s the stringbean 60-year-old who’s run 50 marathons and outkicks me in every race we enter; the stolid buddies whose support and marathon companionship make it possible to run that far; the woman transforming herself into a distance runner; the speedy lady who runs up the Empire State Building stairs for kicks; the guy who lost 175 pounds and runs all. the. time. And more. An amazing bunch.

There’s nothing wrong with a little joining now and then. Oh, but one thing: I never, ever, ever get there on time. They’re often kind enough to wait. Sure, I wonder what they do at 7:19. But I’m just not that curious.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pulling the Plug

This doesn’t end well. You’re warned.

Toward the end of my run on Saturday, something wriggling in the ditch beside the road caught my eye. I stopped to look, and saw what I took to be a juvenile skunk in distress. Its small form was squirming around spasmodically in the leaves at the bottom of the gully, one paw sticking up. I assumed it was either rabid or had been hit by a car.

When it turned a little I could see its muzzle, and suddenly the animal’s proportions didn’t make sense. The face on it looked full grown, but its body looked stunted. The skunk was looking at me, mouth open, panting. I felt terrible, but assumed it was not long for this world and would expire on its own. I ran a few more paces, but curiousity took over; the size and shape of it had been wrong. A glance back told me the rest of the story.

The back half of the skunk was a few feet further up the bank, motionless. The front part – head, one leg, a portion of the body – still lay trembling in the ditch, writhing in what appeared to be agony and which showed no signs of abating as I watched in horrified fascination.

Reluctantly, I concluded that I should finish the grisly job that someone in his car had started. I picked up a log, apologizing to the skunk the entire time, and dropped it as hard as I could on the creature. Its spasms continued. Still apologizing, I picked up another one and dropped it on the first one a couple of times, until the animal lay still.

UPDATE: For the record, I did not feel good about this. Not at all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sump Pump in Cellar Running Trash Pump in Old House Battery-Powered Sump Pump Backup: A Public Service

Because the most prevalent search hit on this blog comes from people with flooded basements looking for sump pumps or how to use them, I will consolidate my very limited experience in one post. Pump up your lumbar support, Googlers: it’s going to be a long, swampy read. And for you regular readers, here’s something else for your Friday.

Disclaimer: I am not a plumber, hydrologist, engineer, sump pump manufacturer or other sump-pump-savvy professional. My entire experience with sump pumps stems from a recent move to a hillside home with a cellar that intersects the water table when it rises as a result of heavy rain.

I was raised below sea level. At the age of ten, my parents built a small bedroom for me in the basement of our Long Island home, about five miles from the beach. And for eight years (and for a couple of years after college while I was a "failed adult") it was my retreat, my clubhouse, my den.

That room flooded once to my recollection, when the nor’easter of 93 blew in and pushed a couple of inches of rain against the window, which leaked. We got about an inch of water on the floor.

Today I live about 65 miles from the sea, about 900 feet above sea level, and my house — built around 1900 or 1915, depending what documents you read — has a stone foundation and a cellar that fills up with water when it rains really hard. And which gets some small amount of water any time it rains for more than a couple of hours.

In the bottom of that cellar is a pit, and lining that pit is a plastic bucket with perforations in the bottom and two four-inch holes in the sides near the top. Projecting slightly through these holes are the ends of two four-inch corrugated tubes. These tubes are part of the Be-Dri system installed by the previous owners; it consists of a trench dug around the interior perimeter of the cellar, against the foundation, about ten inches deep. The perforated, corrugated tubes are laid into the trench, canted downward so that flow will be in the direction of the sump bucket. A waffly plastic membrane is installed vertically on the inside wall of the trench, the top angled toward the foundation. The purpose of this membrane is to block water flowing in under the foundation, causing it to drop down into the tubes, where it can be safely channeled around to the bucket.

And in the bucket sits a Rigid Zoeller sump pump. Model unknown. It’s green. A power cord leads up from its top to an outlet on one of the joists at the ceiling. The pump has a float on a metal arm that activates the pump when it’s raised. So water flows in and rises until it’s high enough to float the plastic bulb on the end of the arm. That turns on the pump, the water is sucked up by the pump’s impeller and channeled into a 1 3/4-inch PVC pipe that leads along the floor, then up, through a small channel near the top of the foundation, and out to the downhill side of the house. When the pump has removed enough water for the float to drop, it shuts off. Once outside, the pumped water is further diverted into some flexible corrugated 1 3/4-inch tubing, across the yard to a spot beside the driveway, so that it will run down the asphalt instead of pooling in the yard and seeping into my downhill neighbor’s living room. I attach this unsightly tubing when it rains and take it away after the water stops flowing. Usually, this system works pretty well.

Here are some things that can go wrong:

1. The power can go out during or after a storm. In such a case, the pump will stop working. This is because it uses electricity.

2. The pump can trip a circuit. Apparently as these pumps age, or when they attempt to start up under load (meaning that there is already water in the pipes above and below the pump), they might suddenly draw enough power to trip a 15 amp circuit. In such a case, the pump will stop working. This is because it uses electricity.

Note: Water flowing downhill does not require electricity, and its performance will be unaffected by the loss of electrical power to the sump pump. When we first moved in, we lost power about six times in three weeks. It happened once just after a storm, and we got a few inches of water in the cellar. So I bought a generator (having been told over the closing table by the previous owner that it was a good idea — he had, in fact, wired the house for generator power, which was billed as a selling point by our realtor, heh).

3. An unholy deluge visited upon the sinful population of the northeast by a petulant, vengeful God can completely overwhelm puny human measures against the flow of water. This is an interesting wrinkle in the whole system, really. On Sunday it rained here more than it had in quite some time. Water sheds down from the adjacent town land into our yard and seeps into the soil on the uphill side of the house. Seven feet down it hits rock, then seeps downhill along the subterranean slope to find our cellar. The Be-Dri system only works to a point (although guaranteed by the manufacturer for the life of the home – so we’ll have to find that paperwork). This particular Sunday, water was eventually flowing into the cellar from new holes in the foundation about a foot off the floor – it was almost like nature was taking a leak into my house! — as well as a hearty bathtub-spigot-like flow from a spot at the foot of the outside cellar stairs which hits a grate that feeds into the Be-Dri trench. And you could hear it chuckling and burbling along all around the perimeter of the cellar, hitting the membrane, etc. Our pump was operating continuously, until it tripped the circuit (see #2), which was when we were alerted by the FloodAlert sensor, which beeps loudly when it gets wet. Hearing it meant that the water was about an inch deep on the cellar floor. I ran down, reset the circuit, and the pump started up again, but it was clearly a losing battle. There was too much water, and it wasn’t long before it filled the bucket and started flowing in over the top of the membrane. As it rose we called the fire department, who came quickly with a large portable plug-in pump attached to a wide-gauge hose that brought the level down. They kindly left it, and gave me instructions to turn it off whenever it removed all the water, and to turn it back on when necessary.

3a. Even the professionals’ equipment can be insufficient. As the storm progressed through Sunday, the fire department’s pump began to be overwhelmed as well. By night, the water had risen to more than a foot.

3b. Supplemental machinery may fail. The fire department was very busy that night, and couldn’t return with a more high-powered pump to clear the water. We called a selfless, can-do colleague of my wife’s who lives a half hour away. He came with a gas-powered pump that hadn’t seen use in some time, and he and a selfless can-do neighbor of mine (He Whose Cellar is on the Other Side of the Bedrock Ridge that Channels the Water Into My Cellar and Who Thus Does Not Endure Flooding) coaxed it into operation. This was time-consuming. While the motor eventually started and the rusty impeller turned, the system as a whole drew no water. Depth: about 2 feet. I turned off the furnace, we packed our cat and kids, and went to a friend’s house.

3c. Plugs fall out, guv’nor. Fings…’appen. Next morning the level was down – the storm had abated somewhat and the fire department’s pump had managed to keep up overnight. Now they returned with a powerful gas-powered model that drew out the remaining water in about four minutes and jetted it down the driveway. I spent the day at home turning their other pump on and off as necessary and resetting the fuse a couple of times when it tripped. I also purchased another pump at Home Depot – a 1/2hp Flotec with 72 feet of tubing. Convinced that the furnace was dead, we prepared for another night at our friends’ house. Once there, I checked with my neighbor, who said that the level was up again. Hurrying home, I found that the plug for the fire department’s pump had fallen out. Depth: 2 feet. Plugged in, the pump started to work again. My neighbor convinced me to try the furnace. It worked. I stayed, waking up three or four times in the night to make sure the three pumps were keeping up in various combinations. The town issued an advisory to boil all drinking water for two minutes.

Once those things had all gone wrong, we were okay. By Tuesday morning our smaller machines were sufficient to keep ahead of flow, so I shut off the fire department’s pump. I worked from home, and by evening our original installed pump was handling the water on its own (as it still is today, three days later).

What did not go wrong, but could have:

1) The power could have gone out. Sure, I have a generator and a hookup, but it would have meant adding one more machine to the mix, plus gasoline, and running it for hours and hours, which, who needs? Cheers to the power company.

2) The rain could have lasted longer. Of course, had the rain lasted longer on Sunday, the water would have continued to rise. I assumed we were coming home Monday morning to a house with a full cellar and no furnace, water heater, or electric panel, and possibly destroyed flooring on the ground floor. Fortunately, no.

3) The fire department could have been out of pumps, or less competent. They were very busy for two days, running all over town helping people in as-bad or worse situations. It was surprising that they had any pumps at all. The volunteers are getting a donation.

Next Steps
1) Tuesday afternoon I took a walk from my cellar up into the backyard, following the track of the water that had rushed onto the property, eroded a pit behind a retaining wall and then seeped into the ground to run up against the foundation. My neighbors have assured me that the problem got worse a few years back when the town paved over some of the adjacent parkland. I had no trouble following the path – there was still a light flow in some spots and swamps and puddles in others. It made a pretty clear waterway down into our yard. I’m trying to figure out the friendliest way to start them thinking about extending their drainage system to catch this significant waterway.

2) We’ve called an engineering company to advise on our own drainage system. There must be a way to send water around our foundation — although I suspect it will involve digging around the outside of the foundation and installing the equivalent of the Be-Dri system. I want something better.

3) We’re considering some kind of expansion to include an upstairs utility room. We could store boating and swimming equipment in the cellar and worry less.

Finally, if You’re Not Sure Whether You Have Flood Insurance, You Do Not Have Flood Insurance
Regular homeowner’s policies don’t include flood coverage (my blithe claims during the storm to the contrary), but the government has a program requiring companies to provide paid additional coverage for participating communities. Call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1 (800) 638-6620 to find out more.

I did. I’m gettin’ me some of that.

If anyone’s still reading, I hope this helps, and best of luck with your aquatic situation. Hey, at least you have Internet access!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Just one pump running now, and keeping ahead of the flow. Everyone's back home. Commute resumes tomorrow. And we commence calling engineers, town government (the water sheds off town land), insurance company, lawyer (just in case).

The appliances got wet but seem to work.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The New York Times People

A friend and I were recently discussing the No Impact couple from the New York Times. They seem nice enough, making a good effort, but they clearly fall into the otherworld inhabited by the New York Times People.

Right now I'm writing from home. Two floors below, I can hear the fire department's powerful pump sucking a mixture of air and water from the sump in my cellar floor. My pump is also working. Hoses lead down the driveway, joining the streams coming from other flooded basements. Driving back to the house from our friends' place this morning after dropping the kids off at daycare, we observed large-scale flooding of waterways. In our yard, the flow has eroded a pit against a retaining wall. Last night it was spouting water from between the railroad ties like a Dutch nightmare.

Here's what the New York Times People were doing yesterday:

"Coming on a weekend, the storm had a relatively light impact on most residents. Many shops and restaurants that normally would have been open yesterday were shuttered, but without jobs or schools to attend, many people spent the day indoors with the Sunday papers, relaxing with music to go with the silken lash of rain hissing at the windows, dripping on a lazy afternoon."

What I want to know is, which papers? What's a really good, thick Sunday paper around here? Is there one with a crossword that could kill some time? And how come the Times don't pursue the story a little further? Just what relaxing music were "many people" enjoying? How come Robert D. McFadden, Kareem Fahim, Abby Gruen, Danny Hakim, John Holl, Jennifer 8. Lee (known for her impeccable researching), Trymaine Lee, Angela Macropoulos, Barry Meier, Fernanda Santos, Nate Schweber, Melody Simmons, Michael Wilson and Katie Zezima couldn't find that out? I'd think it'd be simple enough if you're calling around a lot of people and finding out they were relaxing to the silken lash, you could just say, you know, are you listening to Django Reinhardt? WQXR? What?

At 11:30 last night, when my neighbor and a friend and I finally gave up attempting to get a third pump working, I was shivering uncontrollably. I'd been in- and outside for about six hours, and hypothermia was a very real threat. The water had just about reached the ignition on the oil burner (sorry, New York Times People -- we leave that on and we burn oil because we don't have enough time to cut the wood we'd need to run the wood stove we don't have because we're commuting two hours to work and just making it even in a cheap house even on one NYC and one local salary). I shut it off and we packed and left.

Let's hear it for the New York Times people. They're fighting the Mommy Wars. They're pushing the case for real war. They're seeing trends in the cutest little places. They very often get it right. But they very often plug into something that, statistically speaking, just doesn't exist.

Breaking news: There's a boil-water advisory in effect here.


Ah, well. In a true fit of exurbitude, our cellar flooded, killing the water heater, and, we think, the oil burner. It was two feet deep when we left last night, kids, cat and passports (why? we don't know) in hand. The electric panel seems to've escaped harm, since our answering machine still picks up.

The fire department was kind enough to bring a pump, but it couldn't keep up with the creek. We have to name the cellar, soon.

Oh, hey -- anyone want to buy a house?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Perhaps I Haven’t Explained This Properly

Exurbitude refers to my state of mind: with my family, I’ve purposely moved outside the city, out beyond the suburbs, to the exurban fringes. From here, only the mad commute. And all of us, though we came from Brooklyn, or Queens, the Bronx, Yonkers — even Manhattan — no longer feel quite like city folk. And we’re not quite suburbanites.

In my case, it was a love for the green stuff (trees) that brought me this way. A love for North. I’ve traced my way back and forth up and down the Hudson Valley more than any other trip I’ve taken — I schooled up there in Albany, I’ve gone to a little resort in the Adirondacks on and off for more than thirty years, I’ve hiked to the river’s source and I have friends and family up and down its reaches. Those happy accidents of geology that gave us this valley, and the climactic changes that gave us this river, have shaped my life. How could I stay in the concrete lands with a family, given that fact?

And so we moved – first to Tarrytown, then to Monroe, and now here. Each time placing distance between us and New York City…mental, physical, cultural distance. The unbroken tie remains the economic. So I go to New York five days a week or so, and I work in the office, and I am among the city people, and they are attuned to different cycles than I am.

I come to work in my boots and down vest like some kind of idiot hiker lost in town, with stories of turkeys gobbling off in the woods that very morning while I was out for a run. They look at me doubtfully when I tell them about the bear. They think I’m talking about coming back from a business trip when I mention that I watched the sun come up over the mountains that morning while I rode the ferry. We get the organic farm, they get the organic farmstand. They get rain, we get snow. They get heat, we get tomatoes. They get rats, we get deer.

But here’s me (writing from the train, in fact), suspended between those worlds. I’m us and them. The clown and the slicker. Sometimes I feel like a messenger, a mailman, a bridge between two mindsets. I want to tell the human vibe and the hum of the city about the natural flow of the water through my cellar, or explain the waft of skunk that arises at evening while you’re out looking up at the stars for a moment after taking out the garbage. In town there’s the powerful thrill of money and art — I was immersed in it just two hours ago! — that’s hard to map onto the lone convenience store spilling its flourescence onto the sidewalk.

Tonight a friend and I went driving around town, looking for the right combination of elements to spot eastern Tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) coming downhill to breed in vernal pools.* We didn’t find any, and I’m almost thankful. I’m not sure I’d know what to do with the information.

* Interestingly, that link says they don’t occur further north than Long Island, but my friend has seen them not far from here in past years. And he’s a scientist.


I'm going to invent a Paint Bomb; sort of like one of those Raid fogger deals. You put plastic on everything you don't want painted, set the Paint Bomb, and leave. It's that easy. Set PaintBomb™ after breakfast and have dinner in your BRAND-NEW KITCHEN! PaintBomb™ does the work FOR you.

"My husband and I each bowled 240 -- and when we got home we celebrated in our BRAND-NEW DINING ROOM! Thank you, PaintBomb™!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

When All Else Fails

Winter’s fat lady hasn’t sung yet where I live. In the hollows of Storm King’s eastern base, ice lurks. Our forecast calls for something frozen and slushy tomorrow. Nothing is snapping – this winter is melting away with great reluctance, highs in the 40s prolonging the freeze, keeping the bite in the wind, just as long as they can.

That’s okay. Because the light is different, and the light is what tells the plants and animals what to do. When I get out of the car in my driveway with the western sky still aglow, I hear a couple of spring peepers* making their song down in the hollow where the garter snakes live, and it feels a little warmer.

*Pseudacris crucifer. I just didn't want to break flow.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Cult-Like Programs I’ve Embraced, Part I: Weight Watchers

The transformative event for me came about halfway through my first meeting. Surrounded by puffy women applauding one another for losing eight ounces, addressed by a relatively slim, excited older woman in extremely tight pants, I was about to lose my shit and leave. Like I’d left French class sophomore year, after six years of study: just up and left and never went back. This was not for me.

In 2001 I had taken stock and realized that I was at least 60 pounds overweight, pale, flabby, and tired easily. My digestive system was a nightmare; I ate nothing healthy, no matter how often I resolved to do so. My feet hurt. My knees hurt. I had had to go to physical therapy for weak ankles. My lower back was giving out alarming twinges. And I was only 32.

A confluence of events led me to Weight Watchers in January 2002. I woke up especially hung over and bloated one morning after a late night. My wife and I had started talking about having a baby. Murderers had attacked my city, and it occurred to me that life was too short to stay fat. A colleague was attending a nearby meeting and encouraged me to come with her. Another coworker, a man, had lost a lot of weight through the program the previous year. I went.

It was horrifying. Clapping, I thought, is not what I need. Little star stickers were not going to help me. And they talked incessantly about dessert – my problem was cheese and ribs and beer and General Tso’s chicken, not chocolate. Cake and cookies were for the weak. Even the way chocolate was talked about, with this faux reverence — an ironclad excuse masquerading as an object of worship in whose presence my bovine companions were powerless. When they mentioned it, I could hear the glutinous melted gunk blurring the consonants in the word itself…schawglit.

My cousin once tricked me — bait: job opportunity/switch: Amway meeting. They sat the new recruits in the front row and proceeded to attempt to break us down by asking if we wanted to get rich. That had been like this. Later, when I emerged with my psyche intact, he’d said “don’t think about it, just do it.” That was anathema to me.

I was fat, but I was no joiner. I was a dinosaur explainer, and I wore black clothing and lived in New York City. I’d traveled the country by car for six months. I’d read Atlas Shrugged AND A Fool’s Progress. I had a hip, hot wife in the record industry and we went to extremely cool shows. I was a cynical and proud atheist who hated sports and swore never to go to Disneyland. And above all I was young! What the hell was I doing in the room with the fat women salivating about doughnuts?

And then the transformative event: I let go. For one second. I shut off my brain and clapped, with a big smile on my face.

Why? Because nothing else had worked. I’d been gaining weight for ten years. I was miserable. If I thought I was too young to be in that room, I was certainly too young to keel over and die on a subway platform. And everyone said that Weight Watchers worked. So somewhere I found a switch and shut off the part of my brain that was saying “no.”

It was just enough for them to get their hooks into me.

That year, I transformed. I journaled, I counted my points, I drank water, I measured portions, I tried recipes received at meetings, I read the Getting Started book religiously and I attended my weekly meeting. I realized that I’d been reverentially saying General Tso’s schickun. I sat up front. I raised my hand a lot. And it worked. I immediately began losing weight.

Suddenly, running seemed possible. A natural complement to Weight Watchers. I started slowly during Week Five. After fifteen minutes on the treadmill, I knew one thing for certain: I was going to die. But I didn’t die that particular day, and I went back two days later. I started counting activity points.

By October I lost 68 pounds. Five years later, I go every week to keep it off.

The women — and some men — in that room are some of the bravest and dearest people I know, struggling against unimaginably deep-seated personal and cultural roadblocks, trying to find out if they’re real beneath the weight. They are, they are, they are. My leader from that first day has been one of the most – and you can imagine how using this word hurts a deeply independent and cynical thinker – inspiring people I’ve ever met. I mean, she helps people get well. How cool is that?

So I’m a convert, an acolyte, a Weight Watchers zombie who for a long time could only talk about POINTS and the POINTS system. Letting go that day was one of the hardest — and best — things I’ve ever done.

But I still don’t buy their products.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Okay, this one you can eat. Alosa sapidissima (“the tastiest herring”) begin their spawning run up the rivers of the east coast when the water hits 40 degrees or so, which means that early spring becomes shad time. Shad!

Subject of John McPhee’s Founding Fish, storied savior of the revolutionaries at Valley Forge, mascot of the Hudson River revival, society dish on Park Avenue and at countless riverfront parties, Thoreauvian metaphor, favorite of sport and commercial fishermen alike, the long-suffering and noble shad is, first and foremost, really really yummy. It’s like no other fish I’ve ever had; baked, its flesh rises and opens up, revealing incredibly rich flavors (no doubt the result of a high fat content in the skin, and hey a little butter never hurt anyone) that work exceptionally well with lemon juice and a few capers. Its roe, well — “whug,” as a wise person once said. I’ve only cooked shad roe twice, both times dredged in a little seasoned cornmeal and pan-fried, and again with the butter and capers and lemon juice, which, you know, hlurm. You have some — and you don’t need much, just two ounces maybe — and you’ve done everything your tastebuds might reasonably have requested of you, and then some. You can pray to this mighty fish, but don’t forget to eat it, too.

The catches declined for long years and then recovered vigorously in, I think, the late 90s and early 00s. Apparently they were on the downswing again around 03; not sure of current status, although my fish guys seemed to have no problem getting it the last two years. If you’re on the east coast (and in some areas of the west coast, where introduced populations have taken hold in some Pacific-draining rivers), hie thee to your fishmonger and ask for it by name. To my Loire Valley readers, I think you can get it too, but I don’t know its name there. Here? Shad!

Note: get bones removed professionally.

I mention this because early today I glanced out the window of the train to see a solitary fisherman at one end of a long string of floats stretched perpendicular to the tide. There was mist on the glassy river and there were low clouds above the valley. The brume over the western hills was pink-tinged in its upper reaches. And somewhere downstream perhaps, the silver-sided legions of intrepid oceangoers were heading home.

To my home, anyway. Yum.


Monday, April 2, 2007

Double Quarter-Marathon

Next up, the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon on April 29th. Formerly the Runner’s World Half Marathon, this one is supposed to be a lot of fun. I figured that having gotten to that distance this year despite the winter, I’d better keep it going. This weekend I ran a leisurely 11 miler, beneath vultures (Cathartes aura, if you must know).

I don’t follow the science of the half marathon, and I’ve only run a couple…now that I think of it, I’ve only run the same one twice. In any case, if the Running Authorities ever want this distance to come into its own, they’re going to have to think of a better name. How can a race be taken seriously if it’s always held up as half of something else?

I therefore propose that we call the 13.2 mile race the Rafina. That’s a small town about halfway between Marathon and Athens. The Classic Marathon passes through it. It seems like a nice enough place.

And I’ll tell you what, I bet Phidippides wished he’d done a Rafina instead.