The Porch(It’s too chilly to be sitting on the porch, but here’s a photo of where I spend a disproportionate time on Summer week-ends.)

As I’ve noted in my diary, I’ve begun to do group runs out of the Bronxville Running Company (if you go to the webpage, ignore the “Westchester’s Premier Specialty Running Store” hype; it’s a distinction not yet earned). As Tavia noted a few weeks back on the New York Running Show, lots of (most?) NYC-area running stores sponsor group runs (there are store-links on that page), including pretty focused speedwork. On Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings, runs leave from the Bronxville Running Co. store. Although it’s only a bit over a mile from home, I drive (or stop on the way home) so I can drive home.

Each time there’s a mix of folks. This morning, two of the guys from the store — both Bobbys — were absent so I headed out with folks I’d not met before. In the end there were three of us — one a one-time rugbier turned on to running (again; he’d run in high school) by “Born To Run” (the book, not the album), the other a tennis player who ran NY 2010 in 3:30 for a charity who’s since run a 1:30 and is thinking of the sub-3 barrier — heading to Scarsdale along the BRP. And we chatted about things running and otherwiseand then back at the store I chatted with some of the others who had gone out but had not been as fast, about one of my favorite topics, trails in southern Westchester, and how we might meet-up at Twin Lakes one of these Sundays (as an aside I plan on a meet-up at the Rockies in June).

After I was home, it occurred to me that solitary as this sport is, it is also communal. It can be important to feel part of a shared experience. Such an experience arises from membership in a club or regular participation in group runs, from seeing mates before and after races. So we have our blogs and our social-media musings and we have others’ blogs and social-media musings. Not content to experience our running we share it.

I then appreciated the futility and folly of saying anything about NYRR. (For the record, save for a take-down notice on its pictures, it never got back about my “Safety Last” column, although it did see it (as evidenced by the aforementioned take-down notice).) It is not part of the community, any more than Facebook or Twitter or your ISP is. It’s a utility, a monopoly utility that provides a service, i.e., races, Like the monopolies of old, it can treat its customers with a mixture of sympathy and disdain.*

As I’ve noted before, the NYRR Club Series does provide a venue for the NYC-area club community. Beyond that NYRR simply puts on large, anonymous races. It’s not something to get upset about, and it does a good job of putting on those races, as New York Telephone does a good job of connecting callers or Microsoft a good (passable?) job of designing operating systems. In this, at least, there are numerous alternatives, like next week’s Memorial Day Marathon (and 10K and HM I hope to give the latter a try)) at VCP. (Product plug: NYCRuns.com has a good calendar of races in the tri-state area. (Full disclosure: I have done work for NYCRuns and hope to do more. I’ve written columns for it. And it gave me a nice technical t-shirt (which I wear now and then as a promotional device).))

* For a comprehensive discussion of the development of monopolies in various communications segments, including radio, movies, and TV, check out “The Master Switch“, by Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu, who’s currently doing a stint at the FCC. It includes an extended discussion of a case in which I wrote the complaint, which found its way to the Supreme Court (in which said complaint was struck down).

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