10 p.m., summer solstice; Villefavard, France. Photo: Katie Arnold
I’m walking slowly through a bucolic farming village in the French countryside, gawking at a cluster of 100-year-old stone houses with blue shutters and window boxes spilling over with orange geraniums. It’s nearly 10:30 p.m. on the summer solstice, the sun has just set, and a farmer, finished cutting his hay for the day, is driving his tractor down the middle of the road. The magenta hollyhocks are in full bloom, and in this golden light, even the cows—the fattest, healthiest I’ve ever seen, with cinnamon hides and newborn calves—are exquisite. I’ve left my own little ones at home for 10 days, the longest and farthest I’ve been away since they were born. I should be relaxed, but I’m not. All I want to do is write, run, walk, and swim. I’m hungry all the time, and buzzing with so much energy I can barely sleep.
Is it jet lag or insomnia? Separation anxiety? Nope. It’s the quiet. I’m here at La Ferme de Villefavard on a six-day silent writing retreat, no talking allowed. Before I arrived, I worried that the hush would freak me out or hobble me with homesickness, but the opposite is true: Silence is addictive. It’s a performance-enhancing drug. From writing to running, it makes me better at everything I do.
Columbia says that bare skin is no longer the coolest option on hot humid days. The company’s newest creation, clothes made with Omni-Freeze ZERO, is, they claim, even cooler.
ZERO has circles of a sweat-absorbing polymer that swell and turn blue like tiny ice packs when you start to drip. The mechanical reaction (not chemical, as in cooling fabrics that use minty xylitol to provide a chill) sucks heat away from your body as well as moisture. By the Outdoor Retailer show, test results should be in, showing whether or not the cooling properties of ZERO quantifiably enhance athlete performance.
On May 30, 1975, Steve Prefontaine cancelled his last haircut appointment at the Red Rooster Barbershop in Eugene, Oregon. He promised to come in the next day, but he died that night. The missed appointment may sound like a trivial fact that has little to do with running, but David E. Graf went to find out more by interviewing the shop's barber.
Probably the most talked about moment at the Olympic trials so far has been the dead heat finish declared in the women's 100m final last Saturday. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh crossed the finish line at almost the same time, if not the same time, for third place. The runner that took third would have a chance to compete for the United States in the Olympics. After review, the finish evaluator declared Tarmoh unofficially in third place. Later, the USATF declared the race a tie. With no process in place to resolve a tie, the USATF made up a new rule that would have the runners run a tiebreaker, flip a coin, or willingly give up their spot. That's the background on the start of the dead heat resolution, but Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden has written a great piece that takes a step back and goes behind the scenes of the photo finish evaluation.