Journal: Sunday, May 3, 2020

In Personal

Quarantine Day 47. The only evidence that this day happened in my life is a Strava entry for Berkeley Bowl and 3 back-to-back-to-back Zoom meetings.

The Berkeley Bowl ride happened at 1PM. This one was a little odd because I had already gotten groceries the previous Tuesday. But I still found myself running low. For one, I’ve been drinking a lot more kombucha lately — it seems to be my go-to comfort drink, now that I don’t have daily twice or thrice-a-day infusions of coffee at the office. When I have it, I seem to go through a liter a day. Thank god it’s not alcoholic (yes, I know it has a negligible amount).

And for two, I’ve been going through a lot of granola. With all the weight I’ve been gaining recently, I’m starting to suspect that it’s been my rabid granola consumption that’s to blame. When I have a bag of it (yes, I buy it in bulk from Berkeley Bowl every time I go), I have heaps and heaps of it in the fruit smoothies that I make everyday. Yes, I did eat lots of granola before COVID — but it was definitely more spread out and not so regular like it is now.

That said, since I can apparently keep my weight down simply by running longer (even if I do it fewer times a week), I’m probably going to continue devouring granola.

The first Zoom call happened at 3PM. The second SFRRC book club of this year. The book this time was Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. That book’s been on my to-read list for a while. This was my motivation to finally read it.

I’ve left my thoughts and annotated some quotes from that book in a separate post. Suffice it to say, I quite enjoyed the book, though to me, there wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking (though there were some well-articulated quotes that I think I’ll be borrowing well into the future!).

As for the call itself, I really enjoyed the conversation. Compared to the first book of the year, Meb Keflezighi’s 26 Marathons, this book was much more relatable so it garnered stronger reactions from the 14 people who attended (there were people who wanted to join but couldn’t; spots were limited to 15 to make sure everyone could talk — one person had to bail last-minute).

I also enjoyed the conversation because these reactions were so much more diverse than I expected. I had expected most people to react similarly to how I had reacted (with all of us being runners after all) — and to be sure, my reactions were taken with nodding heads and lots of agreement. But there were definitely angles I hadn’t really thought of or considered important.

In particular, there were relatively involved discussions around how much of a loner Murakami seems to be, how structured he seemed to live his life (at least in the beginning), and how he’s very black and white (i.e. if he decides to work on something, he stops doing anything else to focus 100% on that task).

On loneliness, I think that definitely struck many people because of the nature of our group. Everyone in a run club is literally there to run with other people; there was really only one time in the book that Murakami ever mentions running with someone else. He also literally calls out his inability to play team sports — hence his choice of running (and writing) as his sport. He can run (and write) alone.

On being a “control freak,” as one participant called him, I think there was somewhat of an admiration for how dedicated Murakami is to running (e.g. running 6 miles 6 days a week on and on), as well as an observation on how his collection of essays does kind of present a trajectory in which we see how meticulous and disciplined he is as a small business owner in his younger years to how he later recognizes that things just might be out of his control (and therefore “such is life”) in his older years.

On the third point — being 100% focused — I think there was also a similar admiration. To become a writer, he shuts down his bar. To become a runner, he just ups and quits smoking. It’s not for everyone, of course, which is why this was a point of discussion.

From Aude’s notes, these were other things we talked about…

  • Parallels between training as a runner and work as a writer.
  • Talent vs. Focus
  • Perseverance
  • Other books from Murakami, which are very fictional.
  • Getting old
  • Reflection on discussion with Frank Shorter
  • The “why” of running
  • Lifestyle / commitments
  • Seem very strict about his routine, discipline
  • Went from very unhealthy to very structured healthy lifestyle
  • Loneliness
  • 100% focus in whatever he does
  • Some traditional traits
  • Physical activity to structure artistic/creative lifestyle
  • Very relatable
  • Great to read the descriptions of places where he runs
  • Race day is a celebration
  • Can’t control the outcome. Never know how it’s going to go

I joined my second Zoom call right after the book club ended. I was late, of course — but almost everyone was still there. The weekly LMJS Racing Team call. Unlike the past few weeks, I was actually at home for this call — a fact not overlooked by other members of the team. 😛 I don’t quite remember what we talked about, but I’m sure the usual topics came up: COVID, people on the trails, masks, etc.

Finally, I joined my third call at 7PM. The weekly Sunday game night with John. I missed Yao’s Saturday game afternoon, so I was pretty eager to make it up with some social contact today.

But when I joined the room, I saw no one there! So I got ready to run (as if I didn’t have enough running yesterday.) Before I left though, I saw a second group message (outside of the usual Sunday Boardgames group) indicating that because Tammy has dinner at 7PM, we’d have game night at 8PM instead.

I was a little annoyed because I could’ve gone out to run, and because I’ve noticed that meeting times have become a lot more fluid in the Era Of The Zoom Call (like people will just change the meeting time within an hour of the meeting starting! Or meetings starting up to an hour late!). So when I joined the call, I was a bit grumpy. Additionally, because the last-minute postponement announcement happened in a separate channel, Zara hadn’t gotten the memo. She’d joined a little after 7PM too (though apparently right after I had left the room) and thought game night wasn’t happening.

Anyway, finally we got John, Tammy, Zara, Adam (Zara’s boyfriend, whose name I didn’t get until I finally asked him almost a couple hours later after zero people said his name out loud), and me got to playing.

The first game we played was Splendor — now a staple of our lineup. Because John’s apparently been playing Splendor (at against the CPU, and the CPU players make moves instantaneously, he’s gotten better at playing faster. He’s also gotten better too. So I basically lost the first two games relatively badly — “relatively” meaning that I was always behind by about one or even two turns (i.e. I would’ve won if I had one more turn). In both games, it was pretty much John vs. Tammy.

Ironically, even though John was noticeably faster, he was still slower than the rest of us. That said, the first game (to 15 because John didn’t want to deviate from his practiced parameters — something I kept trolling him about) only took about ten minutes — compared to us taking TWO HOURS in person. Our games to 21 took a little longer, but they were still pretty quick, and satisfying.

After a few games, I suggested that we play Azul (also offered at, a game that I had just picked up from Christie and Pat a few days prior. Because I didn’t know all the rules (namely, exactly how points are calculated), I don’t think I explained the rules to Tammy and Adam particularly well (John and Zara had other places to go). But after one game, they got it and we agreed to play it again at some point (especially after I got screwed by taking -14 points in the last round, propelling me from far in 1st to dead last).

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