What's Good?

The NYC Marathon, a Kit Kat heist, 60-pounds of protein powder, ketchup-as-running fuel -- and other stories about food and fitness technology

Happy Friday! What's good!

I saw the doctor this week for my annual check-up — a new doctor, because new city / new health insurance. Although I am very critical of health technologies, I was pleased to see that my digital health records from Oakland had actually "traveled" with me — this is the first time that I've experienced this, and while the software interface where I can schedule appointments and read notes from the doctor is still janky as hell, the important information is all there. Amazing! I got a message this morning that the results of my bloodwork were ready. And even though the doctor said "please don't look at this until I have a chance to go through and help you interpret the results," I looked. But I did not turn to Dr. Google for assistance. So partial credit, I guess.

Full credit to the customer service agent who helped me this past week when, instead of received one 5-pound bag of vanilla whey protein powder, I received twelve 5-pound bags of vanilla whey protein powder. He refunded me the $600+ I was charged in error — thank god — and said, "just keep it." Where one stores 60 pounds of vanilla whey protein powder in a small NYC apartment is another thing altogether.

And let's see, what else happened this week… Oh yeah. The NYC Marathon! (And the Abbott Race to the Finish 5K the day before.) I wrote about my thoughts/experiences on my personal blog, so I'll just add here that volunteering at the Mile 25 hydration station absolutely shook my confidence that I could ever run a marathon. My six-hour shift was about 3 hours of setting up — filling thousands of paper cups full of water — and about 3 hours of handing out them out. Once the runners started coming through, it was so busy, so overwhelming that — ironically — I did not stop to eat or drink. It was a lovely day — a little warm for racing perhaps; but a lot of the runners I saw — folks who were running 26.2 miles in under four hours, mind you — were a mess. A mess. Naively, I guess, I didn't anticipate a lot of people would want to stop for water so near the finish line; but not only were people stopping, they were walking, limping, screaming, passing out, crying, puking, carrying their friends. I was shook. Kin and I came back to Central Park around 6:30 to watch some of the last runners bring it home. And those folks — people who'd been on their feet for more than twice as long as the ones I served earlier in the day — were largely smiling and waving, grateful for the crowd support. Make of that what you will.

The calm before the storm...

The local paper, no surprise, had a lot of coverage: "Tamirat Tola and Hellen Obiri Win New York City Marathon." (My god, they were fast.) "Garth Barfoot, 87, Is the Oldest Runner in the New York City Marathon." "How the New York City Marathon Is Supporting New Moms on Race Day." (I screamed so loudly when Molly Huddle ran past me, that one of the volunteers asked me if that was my friend. “No,” I said, “I just love this sport. Then the non-professional runners started flooding past, and yikes.) "Forget Aerodynamics: Running the Marathon in Style." "These Are the Celebrities Who Ran in the New York Marathon." (I gave Zdeno Chara a cup of water, and it was only after he ran on that I realized that that was indeed the tall hockey player I was supposed to be on the look out for.) "One Partner Runs the Marathon — and the Other Does Everything Else." Oh snap. "Why Run the New York City Marathon When You Can Drive It?" Sure, but why drive it when you can bike it: "Before Sunrise, Before the Runners, a Guerrilla Bike Marathon.” (Did you know that The New York Times publishes the names of as many of those who complete the marathon as it can. Needless to say, sales of the paper skyrocket the next day. Genius.) Not The NYT: "How the pandemic (and depression) hooked a new generation of runners." As a new runner, I still don’t know if I’m going to try to run this next year or not.

Elsewhere in sports/technology: I am a big Coach Bennett fan — "Nike Run Club's oddly mindful coach." But mindfulness only gets you so far. Christine Yu on mental health and the NCAA: "At the End of the Day, It's Just a Sport." "USWNT set to hire Emma Hayes as coach after Chelsea’s season ends." I think there was baseball news this week, but IDK. Listen, I am all for "fueling" with foods that aren't the high-price items marketed to athletes, but ketchup? No. Not enough sugar, funnily enough. Nevertheless, some genius in marketing at Heinz thought this was a good idea: "Heinz encourages runners to eat packets of ketchup to fuel up."

I love/hate this so much...

In other food/technology news: "How to Hijack a Quarter of a Million Dollars in Rare Japanese Kit Kats." "Do accessible recipes exist?" asks Anisha Chandra — a very very good question. "Hungry (but Not for Human Contact), Americans Head for the Drive-Through." "Biden’s cereal problem" — cereal is too expensive, therefore Trump is going to win. An interesting breakfast-politics angle, I guess. But wait! Apparently the newly spun-off WK Kellogg company reports strong revenue and improved cereal sales. The democracy is saved! "Why Sugar Isn't As Bad As You've Been Told with Karen Throsby" — the latest Rethinking Wellness podcast episode from Christy Harrison. Throsby links narratives about austerity in the UK to narratives about anti-sugar and anti-fatness. She also talks about how some of these wellness/diet culture trends demand a very reactionary set of gendered expectations.

And that surely connects to this, from The Guardian: '"We’re sedating women with self-care'": how we became obsessed with wellness.”

Elsewhere in the wellness/technology hustle: "Elon Musk’s Brain Implant Startup Is Ready to Start Surgery." There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea. "No, Not Everyone Needs Therapy" — Freya India on online therapy companies. "F.D.A. Approves New Obesity Drug That Will Compete With Wegovy."

Rest up, everyone. I saw a Mariah Carey billboard in Times Square this morning. The holidays are here. I'm exhausted already.