Swineflu Avenger; Punk Rock Racing!

Here we are in the Part Deux of the “why would anyone want to run in a gas mask?

Well, because doing so will protect you from pollution!

If you are like me and live in a dense, urban environment, you are well aware of the problem posed by basic, ambient air pollution. The main source of this is from motorized vehicles using petroleum based fuel sources. While it may occasionally come from other sources like garbage incinerators or exploding meth labs, the vast majority is from cars.

This is a huge problem for those of us who like to go running. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this activity is being outside. Trouble is, when you live in the middle of a place like New York City, it is impossible not to be detrimentally affected by air pollution. There is virtually no escape. While it is possible to go to a park and not be as exposed to air pollution, this can be a huge inconvenience for people who don’t live near one. Even running through not-so heavily trafficked neighborhood can be harmful if a large truck or improperly tuned passenger cars goes by. When you’re in the middle of using your lungs and all of the sudden you get a big chest full of burned, gaseous, petroleum by-products, it can be a real downer– a bad case of respiratorius interruptus is always demotivating.

Also, I hate the idea that I should be forced to go to a park to run in order to avoid  pollution. I am of a particular inclination when it comes to my running. I am a street runner: I love running in the street. After all, the streets are where the action is, and in a city like New York, there’s no better place to be. Running there however, can be acutely detrimental to ones health. While running in polluted air is still better than not running at all, it is impossible to avoid its hazards. Well, almost.

Imagine what it would be like running through the middle of mid-town Manhattan on a windless, humid day, when all that car exhaust gets trapped by the lack of circulation between buildings. Imagine running under such conditions while all of the sudden finding yourself caught behind a big truck or bus trying to accelerate because the light just turned green but you can’t get out of the way of that big blast of hot soot and noxious fumes because of all the other vehicles that surround you. Then there’s the added drag of burning eyes (especially if you wear contact lenses), irritated throat and chest, coughing up nasty crap out of your lungs, blowing nasty crap out of your nose and of course that disgusting sheen of dirt and grime that accumulates on you face and all over you skin. Let me tell you from personal experience that it sucks! As fun and invigorating as it can be, the overall effects of running in the streets are are downright dangerous. But there is good news– it doesn’t have to be that way!

Wearing a gas mask while running is the perfect solution. A gas mask filters out all the dust and poisonous gas in the air because that’s exactly what it was designed to do. It will protect its wearer from inhaling most all of the toxic air pollutants found in any urban environment, but will also do so for ones eyes, nose throat and respiratory system. With this in mind, I would like to introduce the idea that a “gas mask” is not just a device to be used when spray painting indoors, playing with pesticides, making home-brew amphetamines, participating in a local riot against fascists or fending off a chemical weapon attack– but should generally be thought of as wearing a helmet for your lungs. In fact the gas mask is a Lung Helmet™!

A Lung Helmet™ will do for your lungs what a helmet does for your head™!

Now you can wear a helmet for your lungs for the same reasons you would wear a helmet for your head– to help save you life while engaging in recreational sporting activities.

True, a helmet for your head will protect from a specific, unexpected injury like when you fall off of a bike, but a Lung Helmet™ will protect you from the ambient threat of air pollution. The dangers are immediate and real, but easy to ignore if you think you have no choice about it. Over a long period of time running in polluted air will no doubt take it’s toll and would be a major contributor in increasing ones risk of developing a chronic pulmonary disorder. Air pollution is literally everywhere and there is very little you can do about it without employing a device especially designated for that purpose. That device is a gas mask turned Lung Helmet™.

The "Survivair Full Face Mask Respirator". For around $100.00 or less, it's a pretty good deal!

Virtually any full-face respirator/gas mask will do the job. The real work to protect you is being done by the filters. The basic elements of a gas mask filter are activated charcoal and cotton. Depending on specific contaminants you are looking to avoid, the manufacturer can add other things. As car exhaust is a type of organic vapor, or at the very least, has organic vapors in it, for the purposes of Gas Mask Running™ in polluted air, a simple organic vapor cartridge is all you’ll need. These are standard fare with any commercially available civilian respirator. With military issue gas masks, things get a little more complicated with battlefield weapons involved, and more exotic elements have to be put into the filter. This however, is not an issue with a Lung Helmet™ for GMR™ purposes. Interestingly though, military issue gas mask filters are not usually designed to protect against ammonia, which is most certainly an organic vapor. So this is one instance where a civilian model may be much better than a military one.

A 3M 5101 half-face respirator

It is also possible to go running in a half-face respirator. They give less Pulmonary Resistance™ than a full-face model, but will do nothing for your eyes and simply don’t offer the same level of protection. Still, a half-face model with organic vapor cartridges is much better than nothing at all, and pretty cheap. The lowered PR™ might also be a good place for a novice GMR™ to start. I’ve also found half-face respirators just don’t fit on your the same as full-face models, which have more surface area to stick to and can distribute the pull of the headband better.

As a military dork, of all the gas masks one could use, I prefer anything that is military issue. Not only are they usually cheaper (if you go surplus), but I also believe it is the duty of every citizen to comfortable using basic military gear, a gas mask most of all. The filters on military gas masks are intended to be NBC/CBRN rated (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical/Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear). Therefore, in addition to the basic charcoal/cotton combo, they also have other materials in there that are irrelevant to Gas Mask Running™. These other materials also expire, so if you are getting a gas mask and are concerned with domestic terrorism, you might want to check on that. For the purposes of GMR™, any set of filters on a military surplus gas mask will do the trick, provided those filters are intact. If they are ruptured, definitely do not use them, as NBC/CBRN rated filters are made with potentially toxic ingredients– the kind you’d be wearing a gas mask to avoid in the first place.

Another drawback to military issue gas masks for use as Lung Helmets™, is that new ones can be prohibitively expensive, while the inexpensive ones are unlikely to fit properly, even if they are new. Surplus ones will likely be in unserviceable condition, even for some friendly GMR™, so you have to be very aware of what you’re doing and be willing to deal with pitfalls in quality. I’ll have an entire other post getting into this aspect of finding a proper Lung Helmet™. In addition, I have recently been made aware of Department of Defense prohibitions on certain gas masks being traded on eBay or Craig’s List. And for this, you know goddamned well that I’m going to have a shitfit of a post dedicated to the issue and what I’ve found out about it. In fact, I can hardly wait to share it with you!

Until then, Happy Gas Mask Running, and may peace be witchyaaaa, my brothers and sisters!

PS: If you are interested in purchasing a gas mask, please email me at either Swineflu@SwinefluAvenger.com or GasMasks@NewWhitey.com.

I have vintage M-17s and M-40s for sale, from $50.00 to $200.00, depending on the condition and completeness of the kits. All are prefectly functional for either Gas Mask Running or simply as collector items.

I also have a few historical pieces, including first generation M-17s & M-9s from the 1950’s.

All of my gas masks are vintage surplus are 100% USELESS for NBC/CBRN. The youngest is at least 20 years old, rendering them inert & obsolete.

If you are looking for a gas mask consistent with “domestic preparedness”, please go to “ApprovedGasMasks.com”. I will only make in-person or by-mail transactions, as per DoD and ITAR regulations. I will not ship M-45s overseas.

PPS: A warning to any Goddamned Crackers™ out there with pathologically plagiaristic tendencies– DON’T HONK MY SHIT!!!

**All contents of this blog, including original, specialized terminology regarding gas mask training are trademarked & copyrighted by New Whitey/First Civilian Division, 2011.**

Here it is, folks! The moment you’ve all been waiting for. I know what you’ve been wondering…. Just what is gas mask running? What is it for? What does it do? Why would anyone bother? Isn’t it dangerous? Isn’t it illegal? Only crazy people would ever do such a thing, right?

Well, hold on to your brain buckets, because all these questions are about to get answered. For a quick fix, I’ll break it down for ‘ya Barney-style.

In short, if anyone ever asks, tell ‘em….

Gas Mask Running™ is fuckin’ AWESOME!!™

More specifically, Gas Mask Running™ does two things:

1) strengthens your lungs, and…

2) protects you from pollution.

Let those two basic facts lock into your Brain Housing Group. Now your have a quick answer for yourself and anyone who cares to ask why you are running around with a gas mask on. Now stand-by for the deets. Let’s start with strengthening your lungs. We will return to protects you from pollution and those other things in a following post.

Gas Mask Running™ strengthens your lung with the action of Pulmonary Resistance™. Wearing a gas mask constrains your breathing. Much like breathing through a straw, it narrows the airways to your lungs. In addition, having to overcome the obstacle breathing through the filters provides additional resistance. The effect is that your lungs have to work harder in order to compensate for the added challenge.

To clarify, in day-to-day activities, chances are your breathing is a passive activity, one to which little thought is given. In general, we breathe only as deeply as we need to at the moment, which if you are an average person in an un-challenging situation, is probably downright shallow.

The depth and breadth of our breathing usually falls within a narrow spectrum. Observe your breathing at rest. Feel the difference between how full your lungs are before you exhale versus how empty they are when you inhale. Without resistance, our breathing has no reason to go beyond it’s normal parameters. Stimulus like exercise, increases the depth of breathing, as well as heart rate and several other physiological changes.

With activity comes the need for our metabolism to increase, which requires more oxygen in our blood, so our breathing intensifies. Unless we challenge our lungs appropriately, we will become “out of breath” after a short time. Our ability to harness the oxygen in the air, as well as expel carbon dioxide depends first and foremost on our lung capacity. This lung capacity is increased with conditioning, and increased exponentially when targeted through the Pulmonary Resistance™ provided by the gas mask.

In order to maintain stasis while wearing a gas mask and physically exerting yourself, a number of physiological changes takes place. The primary physiological change is that, you are forced to breathe deeply and in complete cycles. It’s similar to breathing into a paper bag to prevent hyper-ventilation. Our bodies regulate how we breathe by the level of Carbon Dioxide, not the level of Oxygen in our blood. An increase in CO2 will bring our breathing back to a steady level. If you are wearing a gas mask while exerting yourself, you’ll naturally take deeper, slower breaths.The feeling is natural, but harnessing this takes intent. This means breathing with an active, pumping action. To overcome Pulmonary Resistance™, you must forcefully push out with your breath as far as you can, contracting your diaphragm to it’s utmost, and then inhale with just as much force deep into your lower lungs. If you only use shallow breaths in your upper respiratory system, you will very quickly pass out. The pushing and pulling action of Pulmonary Resistance™ is like doing push-ups or pull-ups using your lungs. In this sense…

Gas Mask Running™ does for your lungs what lifting weights does for your muscles!™

The same way your muscles get stronger by resisting the effect of gravity against mass when weight-lifting, the Pulmonary Resistance Effect™ provides resistance for your lungs, which strengthens them in turn. Only Pulmonary Resistance™ as provided by act such as running while wearing the humble gas mask can target the lungs so effectively. No other exercise device or exercise alone can even come close.

The Pulmonary Resistance Effect™ can also be described by metaphor. An old motor head buddy of mine once explained to me how a muscle car could be “suped-up” and it’s performance enhanced (forgive me if I get the terminology wrong). One way of doing this is by increasing the volume of the intake and exhaust manifolds. By installing wider ports or vents, more air than is normally possible can be made available for the engine to burn fuel better and get rid of the waste gasses more quickly. The end result is more efficiency. This is exactly what happens when you train with a gas mask. As your respiratory system grows more accustomed to the PR™ (Pulmonary Resistance™), the range and depth of your breathing is increased. The diaphragm, which is a muscle, is strengthened. Lung tissue is passive, but elastic and stretchy– increasing and decreasing in volume as we breathe. The Pulmonary Resistance Effect™ challenges the elasticity making it more pliable. The little air-sacs in our lungs, the alveoli have a finite surface area to work with. PR™ and PRE™ (Pulmonary Resistance Effect™) stretches the alveoli making them more elastic and increasing the surface area. This is not a “maybe”– it is an acute sensation you will be able to feel without doubt after a very short time training with a gas mask. Whereas before the car was breathing through a straw, suddenly the straw is wider, making breathing easier. Running in a gas mask has the same effect– once you take it off. That’s why GMR™ is such utterly outstanding cross-training. As you grow used to functioning in the gas mask, once it’s removed, your cardio-pulmonary efficiency has increased significantly, which will give you more endurance and speed. I however, no longer have any interest in using the gas mask for cross-training, as I feel running without a gas mask is to have missed the opportunity to run with a gas mask, I love it that much! There’s no going back for me.

Here is another metaphor I can use to explain it. Remember those lung models used in grade school to explain how respiration works? Two balloons in a closed jar with a piece of rubber on the bottom? And when you pulled on the rubber a vacuum was created and the balloons filled with air?

Lung Model (borrowed from hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu)

Well the Pulmonary Resistance™ created by the gas mask would be strengthening that piece of rubber which is your diaphragm. This would make it tougher, more flexible and resilient. Working your diaphragm with the PR™ from a gas mask also utilizes your abdominal muscles in an amazing way, as you’ll need more of them in order to function properly.

As for the two balloons, well have you ever tried taking a fresh balloon out of the pack and just tried blowing it up right away? It’s pretty hard, as the rubber has not been conditioned to be stretched. While it is possible to blow up such a balloon, it is recommended to stretch it out manually, enhancing it’s latent elastic qualities. If the care is not taken to do this, not only is it harder to blow up the balloon, but the balloon suddenly bursting becomes much more likely. While already being made of an elastic material, the rubber has not been conditioned and is therefore not as flexible as it can be. Taking the time to stretch it out beforehand increases the efficiency of blowing up the balloon and reduces the likelihood of a premature burst. Your lungs work the same way.

But wait, THERE’S MORE!!!!

Pulmonary Resistance™ results in other physiological changes besides increased surface area in the alveolar sacs and a stronger diaphragm. With hindered breathing and slight deprivation of oxygen, our body reacts in particular ways. Akin to mild asphyxiation, our body attempts to increase the breathing rate and dilates the blood vessels. While this also happens with any increased level of physical exertion, performing that exertion while wearing a gas mask increases the effect. With the dilation of the blood vessels, particularly the capillaries, the body is working harder to deliver oxygen and dispose  of carbon dioxide. Again, this is like the car engine with greater input & exhaust ports, or a larger carburetor.

Capillarial dilation is of particular importance to our health, because this is how Oxygen gets to all the little nooks and crannies of our cells, and the waste products of metabolism gets removed. Capillaries are the fine-tuning aspects of our circulatory systems. While I’ve found conflicting evidence about whether red blood cell density increases or hemoglobin in those cells does, peoples that live in high altitudes develop extremely dense capillary networks compared to those who live closer to sea level. This may be a contributing factor that allows people who’ve been “altitude training” to do better when they return to lower altitudes. As you develop endurance and longevity in ability to run with a gas mask, there can be little doubt that something’s gonna be going on with your Oxygen delivery system. If you are looking for a way to keep fresh and “younger” looking, having a dense network of pumped, primed, elastic capillaries is going to play a strong role.

When Pulmonary Resistance™ is brought to it’s more intense levels, it commandeers not just the respiratory system but the entire circulatory system in order to meet its needs. As blood flow increases, blood vessels too, become more elastic and stronger. Keep in mind we don’t just pump blood with our hearts– our entire circulatory system gets in on the act. These physiological events are noticeable immediately, but to really exploit their benefit regular use with a gas mask for prolonged periods is necessary. It is absolutely, positively possible to run while wearing a gas mask for extended periods of time. I know– I’ve done so. The longest I have was 8 hours and 18 minutes while running my first & so far only ultra-marathon. It kicked my ass, but doing it in the gas mask was the easy part. Once you’ve trained your body to function for long periods of time in the gas mask, it physiological benefits go from immediate to long term, as adjustments are maintained and sustainable. If you thought your blood pressure was going to drop because of regular exercise, imagine how much more so it would become with the enhanced Pulmonary Resistance Effect™ on you circulatory system after several hours of GMR™!

Another way I like to think about the benefits of Gas Mask Running™ are by comparing it to the pulmonary disease, emphysema. Almost all cases of emphysema is acquired and caused by prolonged exposure to air pollution. There is no greater form of exposure to air pollution than smoking tobacco. As bad as it may be to inhale second-hand smoke and other air pollutants like car exhaust, nothing comes close to the damage tobacco does when inhaled directly into the lungs over a prolonged period.

This is of particular relevance to me as I loathe tobacco, not just as a substance, but everything about its culture and history. One day in the not-so-distant future I’ll give you my three cents about it. For now, let’s just say that…

Gas Mask Running is the exact opposite of smoking tobacco/emphysema.™

Tobacco smoking is the voluntary (sort of) ingestion of carcinogenic crap in exchange for making the White Man even more filthy rich at your expense. Tobacco smoke contains an ever-varying assortment of horrific chemicals that are absorbed by your blood, in addition to all the toxic sludge it contains that will get lodged into your lungs when inhaled. All that crap inhibits the ability of our lungs to do its job, namely to fuckin’ breathe. Even if you take away the cancer-causing effects, the tar clogs your lungs like sludge build-up in a car engine. Eventually, just as your pistons will cease, so will your lungs. Specifically, the alveoli will loose their elasticity, as will the diaphragm and bronchi.

The Emphysatic Alveoli (borrowed from http://www.unc.edu). Imagine what "normal" lungs would look like after some GMR™?

The chemicals that don’t get lodged in our lungs enter our blood stream and are delivered to all the cells in our bodies. As if simply displacing the oxygen weren’t bad enough, these chemicals also cause the blood vessels– especially the capillaries– to constrict, so our circulatory system is placed in jeopardy while it is also depriving our cells and tissue of even more oxygen and nutrients. Exercise and nutrition may help alleviate these effects, but smoking tobacco is ultimately a waste of our physiological resources. When combined with improper nutrition and lack of exercise, the negative effects of smoking are compounded, and the loss of alveolar elasticity is exacerbated. The Pulmonary Resistance Effect™ of Gas Mask Running™ takes all these factors and sends them to their opposite extreme. While exercise alone can do this in part, Gas Mask Running™ takes it to a whole other level. Remember…

Pulmonary Resistance™ is the name of the game!™

In summary, with Gas Mask Running, you’ll harness Pulmonary Resistance™ with the Pulmonary Resistance Effect™. This is the increased elasticity of the alveolar sacs, the strengthening of the diaphragm, the dilation of capillaries, improved blood flow, more efficient oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, increased metabolism, heightened sense of  awareness and of course, the effect we’ve all been waiting for– a Gas Mask High™! This is the increased euphoria produced by extended physical exertion that is enhanced when training with a gas mask. It’s just like a regular “runner’s high” only much, much better.

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s move on to how the gas mask will protect you from pollution in our next post!

**All contents of this blog, including original, specialized terminology regarding gas mask training are trademarked & copyrighted by New Whitey/First Civilian Division, 2011.**

In Fall of 2009 when I was preparing for what I thought would be the first and most ground-breaking gas mask run ever conceived, I started to do some research out there on the interwebs about gas mask running, jogging and training. If you read my post about “Other Gas Mask Runners on the Interwebs” you already know a little bit about it. That was mostly about other gas mask runners. I also found a class of inquiry on interweb message boards as well, mostly people asking about gas mask running in one form or another. There seems to be this undercurrent of thought that suspects running in a gas mask will simulate the effects of high-altitude running. Along those lines, I found this question on the website Best-Running-Tips (http://www.best-running-tips.com/gas-mask-running-to-simulate-high-altitude.html).

Gas Mask Running to Simulate High Altitude

by Jason (Louisville, KY)

I have recently been training for my first triathlon and I have began to use a gas mask when I run and bike. Are there any health risks to doing this and have you heard of this before. I figured it would simulate high altitude training with less oxygen, or maybe I am just an idiot who loves torture. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Excellent question if I do say so myself! It was answered by a gentleman named Dominique, a Dutch ex-pat living in Australia, who runs the “Best-Runing-Tips” website. While I would also very much recommend his site for all your running needs, he gave a safe, but incorrect answer based only on a lack of experience with gas mask running, suggesting it was actually “detrimental to your running training.” He made some further comments that were valuable such as “high altitude training is not a guarantee to optimal results“. How very true! Then there was an opportunity for readers to add comments. There were of a variety of opinions ranging from those who had used gas masks with enthusiasm, had mixed results or those who thought it not helpful at all. This was my first opportunity to leave a big steamy pile of Swineflu juju amongst the interwebs running community. After introducing myself and telling my story up to that point, and added some stuff about protection from air pollution, I got down to the brass tacks.

Anyway, the GM won’t simulate a high altitude, but it most certainly will give your lungs a work out that will blow your mind! By creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the alveoli is increased. With the addition of the other gear, cardio resistance is also increased. There will also be a noticeable improvement in blood pressure & heart rate that you just won’t get with out the gear.”

I meant every word. The term “pulmonary resistance” had never been used in any literature before. I know– I researched it quite extensively. Even patent applications for gas masks and mechanical breathing devices failed to use this phrase. If anything, the term “breathing resistance” pops up. The description of the effect of “pulmonary resistance”, namely strengthening the diaphragm, as well as surface area and elasticity increase of the alveoli (the lung’s air sacs) was novel too. A proper description of the effects of training in a gas mask for physical fitness purposes had likely never been made and had certainly not made it to the interwebs. So what, you ask? Well, in January of 2010 while googling more ‘fo-fo on gas mask jamming I stumbled across Executive Results (http://www.executiveresults.com.au), a gym and personal training center in Brisbane, Australia. They have a varied and extensive program with all sorts of classes ranging from “Boot Camps” to kettle bells, kickboxing and many other fun things. What caught my eye was the “Gas Mask Training” (http://www.executiveresults.com.au/personal-training/gas-mask-training.cfm). In a program called “microfitness(R)” (http://www.executiveresults.com.au/personal-training/microfitness.cfm), their very own registered trademarked term, they offer very short, ten to twenty minute sessions of customized exercise routines that incorporates use of a gas mask to intensify the workout. What first caught my eye soon gave me stink-eye when I read the following statement.

“Gas mask training helps condition the lungs by creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the alveoli is increased.”

Please compare that to my original statement above, which I will repeat here.

“By creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the alveoli is increased.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if this ain’t flat-out fuckin’ plagiarism, I don’t know what is. Well I’ll be a Goddamned Cracker…

THEY STOLE *MY* COPY!!!

And they did so word for word.

So what am I to do? Did I let my statement enter the public sector to be pilfered by those interested in taking advantage of the health benefits offered by gas masks? I guess the thing that leaves me a little indignant is the lack of courtesy of a footnote, but of course that wouldn’t serve the purposes of Executive Results. I must admit though, that as copy, my statement is pretty fuckin’ good and I almost can’t blame them for stealing it. But… if you are going to use an expression or novel descriptive sentence ripped off from someone else and you weren’t going to notify them or give them credit, wouldn’t it be easier to just make up your own copy? Apparently not. I would like to take this time to point out how careful I have been here on SwinefluAvenger.com to give people their due every time I use someone elses’ website, photos & copy.

I let it go. Executive Results have registered their original term “microfitness(R)” so good for them. They are in Australia and I’m in New York. They know who I am (they better know who I am!) and what they’ve done. No big deal. Well, not too big a deal… yet.

Then, in May of this year (2011) I stumbled upon this– the Sean Sherk “Elevation Training Mask” (http://www.trainingmask.com).

Sean Sherk is a mixed martial arts fighter with the UFC who has been promoting his own varied physical fitness program. In the process, he developed his mask and has been promoting it as part of his regimen.

The Sherk “Elevation Training Mask” (which costs nearly $100.00) resembles an Israeli civilian gas mask (which costs less than $20.00) only without the filter.

The Israeli Civilian Gas Mask

Instead it seems to have replaceable valves that regulate the amount of air that can be inhaled or exhaled. The website has some videos, too.

The "Elevation Training Mask" by Sean Sherk

Pretty cool, huh?

I must say it’s a rather nifty device and a good idea, even though it ain’t no gas mask. It wouldn’t do shit to protect you from pollution and I wouldn’t want to go running in it, but for indoor use at a gym, the “Elevation Training Mask” by Sherk is a lot sexier than a regular gas mask in a sporty-designer kind of way. Without the extra weight or balance of a filter I’m sure it’s also a more manageable piece of equipment to have stuck to your face. There’s even a really awesome section on their website called “Training Mask Science” (http://www.trainingmask.com/trainingmask_science.html) that has all manner of really good information regarding the scientific principles behind gas mask/high altitude training and how it affects one’s physiology. I would recommend anyone interested in gas mask training to check it out.

Trouble is, in the section beforeTraining Mask Science”, in the section called “About Training Mask” (http://www.trainingmask.com/about_trainingmask.html), right after the heading “ELEVATION Gas Mask Training”, they start off with this paragraph…

Elevation Training Mask helps condition the lungs by creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the alveoli is increased.”

Again, I will repeat my copy, and you tell my what you think.

“By creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the alveoli is increased.

Brothers and Sisters, if that ain’t balls-to-the-wall, blatant-rip-off, kiss-my-ass-till-it-bruises style plagiarism, I don’t know what is. Goddamned fuckin’ Crackers…

THEY STOLE *MY* COPY!!!

Now again, because I like to give credit where it is due, I point out that both the Sean Sherk “Elevation Training Maskand Executive Results” websites do have a whole lot of other good, descriptive stuff about the benefits of gas mask and gas mask type training without having to be particularly original or novel. In general, they have their own perfectly good copy. Trouble is they have without a shadow of doubt ripped me the fuck off.

THEY STOLE *MY* COPY!!!

Goddamned Crackers! Forgive me if I take this a little personally. There are very few people doing this gas mask thing and even fewer taking it as seriously as I do. Also, I take my what little writing I do personally as well, so if I coin a phrase that gets vict’d by someone else running their own scam, I am likely to wax defensive.

So let me make it perfectly clear and in no uncertain terms– although I may have trouble defending it, I do hereby make the following claim:

“Pulmonary Resistance™” as a novel and original term, is a trademark of Swineflu Avenger and “New Whitey/First Civilian Division.”

Although I haven’t found anyone to have ripped them off yet from other comments I’ve posted around the interwebs, I also claim:

“Cardio Resistance™” too, is a novel and original term, trademarked by Swineflu Avenger and “New Whitey/First Civilian Division.”

“Cardio-Pulmonary Resistance™” is also a novel and original term, trademarked by none other than Swineflu Avenger and “New Whitey/First Civilian Division.”

In reference to any kind of gas mask or gas mask-like training, the expression…

It does for your lungs what lifting weights does for your muscles™” is now also a trademark of Swineflu Avenger and “New Whitey/First Civilian Division” as it too, is an expression that is both novel and original.

Novel and Original.” Unlike some of the bastards that are stealing my dictionary-pimpings!(1). Fuck it! While I’m here I might as well do the same for an expression I came up with all on my own that one may find in the “About Swineflu” section of the very blog you’re reading now.

First Amendment — Second to None! Second Amendment — Second to ONE!™” is a trademark of Swineflu Avenger and “New Whitey/First Civilian Division” as nothing like has ever been seen in print in the history of the interwebs or literature; is totally original and completely novel.

Just to make sure I’ve got all my bases covered from no-good, Honky-assed, Goddamned Cracker copy-burglars, I, Swineflu Mother-fuckin’Avenger, also do hereby re-claim my original copy, the expression…

“By creating pulmonary resistance, your diaphragm is strengthened, surface area and elasticity in the Alveoli is increased™”

or anything to that effect, as being a trademark of Swineflu Avenger and “New Whitey/First Civilian Division” as it too, is most certainly an expression that is novel and original.

If Sean Sherk doesn’t like it, I’m sure he will kick my ass…

…but he’ll have to catch me first!

And if anyone else doesn’t like it– then fuck ‘em, because guess what?

THEY STOLE *MY* COPY!!!

Goddamned Crackers.

Now that I’ve spewed all this self-serving vitriol (it is a blog, don’t you know!), I hope to soon be getting on with the business of gas mask running. In my next post I’ll get more into what it is, what it does and what it’s all about.

Note (1): “Pimping the dictionary” is a term created by none other than the American author Iceberg Slim, whom shall ever be, the greatest “Dictionary Pimp” that ever was. I adapted the term “dictionary-pimpings” from him.

Addendum to Pulmonary Resistance™ and Copy Burglars!

In the above post, I mentioned how I had not found any references to the term “pulmonary resistance” on the Interhonks™ while conducting my research. While this was certainly true a few years ago, while keeping tabs on the Goddamned Crackers™ who honked™ my shit more recently, I did indeed stumble across a whole new world referring to “pulmonary resistance”. While I still stand behind my statement that I was outright plagiarized by “Executive Results” in Australia and the “Sean Sherk Elevation Training Mask” here in the US of A, I must concede that while still rare in literature, “pulmonary resistance” is not quite an entirely unheard of term. It has always been limited to the medical field, most often in regards to Anaestesiology, and usually combined with other words to make such terms as “pulmonary vascular resistance” and “pulmonary arteriolar resistance”. “Pulmonary resistance” had never been used (at least according to the interwebebs) in regards to gas masks  or any kind of exercise related to them. Until that is, I coined the term specifically for use with Gas Mask Running™ on “Best-Running-Tips” two years ago, without any knowledge of outside sources. And of course, even if it could be construed that PR™ is not so unique, both “Executive Results” and “Sean Sherk Elevation Training Mask” still blatantly stole my copy– those cheap, unimaginative, plagiaristic Goddamned Crackers™ !

Examples of “pulmonary resistance” as found online:

Resistance, pulmonary: The opposition of the respiratory tree to air flow. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5323  pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), the resistance in the pulmonary vascular bed against which the right ventricle must eject blood. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/pulmonary+vascular+resistance pulmonary arteriolar resistance (PAR) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pulmonary+arteriolar+resistance Airway Resistance http://oac.med.jhmi.edu/res_phys/Encyclopedia/AirwayResistance/AirwayResistance.HTML **All contents of this blog, including original, specialized terminology regarding gas mask training are trademarked & copyrighted by New Whitey/First Civilian Division, 2011.**

Since Fall of 2008, when I started Gas Mask Running™ in earnest, gas mask running seems to have made a slow, but undeniable start at taking off as a popular activity. Well, maybe popular is the wrong word, as GMR™(1) is still perhaps the most obscure sport one could think of– that is if it could even be considered a “sport” in it’s own right. In researching the development of gas mask running in cyberspace (and perhaps to stroke my own ego a little bit), I was hoping there’d be a stray pic or two of yours Swineflu truly, training on Coney Island in 2001 when I got started and hadn’t blown my back out yet. No such luck. Around October 2009 when I was gearing up to run the New York City Marathon in full-Swineflu regalia (M-17 gas mask, PASGT flak jacket, PASGT helmet & 10 lb baton, I finally sat down and did a little research on the interwebs to see what else was out there. Until this time, I had mistakenly thought that I, Swineflu Avenger, was the only person around with the absolutely fucking genius idea of running with a gas mask on. While in my delusions of grandeur I would like to think I may well be the first to make it a dedicated, populist idea, I was certainly not thee first to make the attempt.

“Insane jogger” indeed!

The earliest mention of someone running around in a gas mask I could find was a photo on the Flickr page of “propboy” called “Insane Jogger“. Dated June 14, 2005, it reads…

“I know this picture is absolutely horrible, but I had to post it just to illustrate the story. I saw this guy a few hours ago jogging down Lafayette at Astor Place. Keep in mind that it’s 95 degrees in NYC today. He was wearing a black hoodie, red boxing gloves, and a GAS MASK. I scrambled from my camera phone and this is all I came up with. But I’m telling you, he was wearing a full face gas mask!”

Seems like a boxer guy enhancing his work-out buzz with a quick jog about the ‘hood, and daring to be a little different. He must have been quite a spectacle while in the act of telling the heat-stroke gods to go fuck themselves.

These following two pix are from the Flickr stream of John W. MacDonald who caught three Canadian soldiers on September 20, 2009, who ran the Half-Marathon/21Km “Army Run” in Ottawa.

Les Trois Aigles…

…coming in for a landing!

Employing some interweb interloping I found out that these three soldiers are (from left to right, left photo) Nicolas Vachon, David Neppel and Olivier Bonvouloir, all in their late teens/early twenties listing “St. Jean” as their home city. They were not only wearing gas masks, but “boots-n-utes” and/or NBC suits with hoods & gloves. Finishing together as they had presumably started, and wearing the Avon S-10 model gas mask.

It must be noted however, that upon close inspection of the pics, it appears that even though they are wearing gas masks, they are not doing so with the filter canisters attached. I feel this still qualifies them for a great step forward in the world of Gas Mask Running™ although not a complete one. While running in a gas mask without the filter will provide some Pulmonary Resistance™, it would only provide a fraction of what it would with the filter. Still, considering they are wearing boots, gloves, hoods, field dress utilities or perhaps even full MOPP suits, I’m not about to make light of their effort. This would also indicate that Gas Mask Running™ in it’s own right was not necessarily their intent, but were instead engaging in what could only be described as a thoroughly ass-kicking, high-motivational run in some heavy-duty military gear. Still, so far as GMR™ goes, this makes their run a kind of “Bent Pyramid”, if you know what I mean– almost there, but not quite.

Their time was 2 hrs & 22 min and 30 sec– a commendable feat even in the best of circumstances and motivating as all hell! Undoubtedly, this team of Canadian soldiers (I also presume they are French Canadian, judging by their names) have earned a nickname. For lack of a better one, let’s call them “Les Trois Aigles!” To the best of my knowledge, they did not apply to Guinness World Records for this event, but certainly should have. It looks like they may indeed have been thee first people ever to run an official half-marathon in gas masks. As such, their time of 2:22:30 sets the benchmark for Half-Marathon GMRs™(2) everywhere! I have not been able to find any other leads on these pioneers of GMR™(1), so if anyone out there in Swineflu land knows them, please high-five them for me.

A little further research on Flickr led me to a few more pix. The one on the left is from an unknown person whose info I have not been able to track down. The one on the right is from “Yello Bella” from the 2007 NYC Marathon. I can only assume the one on the left is from the same date, judging by the man’s clothing.

From the Flickr streams of “Yo Yeo” (left) and “kizzzbeth” (right) are are these two from the 2008 New York City Marathon.

Further research has led me discover that this mystery gas mask runner is Calvin Devine of New York City, whom I think should be more appropriately called “Sherman Tank.” Judging by the looks of him, I’d say he’s gotta be at least 6 ft tall and could weigh up to 250 lbs. In limited emails with him, I was told he had in fact run three NYC Marathons, all with his M-17 gas mask and chemical hood and apparently “…never removed my chemical agent gas mask till the end drinking water from my military canteen.”

Holy. Fuckin’. Shit. Talk about telling the heat stroke gods to go fuck themselves!

Sherman Tank” Devine was in his early 40s when he did the first gas mask marathon in 2006 (no pic available) and finished with a net time of 6 hrs 26 min & 21 sec. In 2007 his time was 5 hrs 55 min & 31 sec, and in 2008 it was 6 hrs 33 min 57 sec. In addition, Mr. Tank “…also completed 2 Tunnel to Tower 5k runs wearing the gas mask a 50lb weight vest dragging a car tire behind me strapping another car tire on my back and carrying another while wearing military boots.” Again, I can only say…

Holy. Fuckin’. Shit!

Truly the behemoth of Gas Mask Running™, Calvin Devine regrettably seems to have not been recognized by a world record keeping organization like Guinness or Universal Records DataBase, and does not seem to be pursuing gas mask running at the moment. I hope for the sake of a budding sport that this will change. As he ran his first marathon in a gas mask in 2006, he is light years ahead of anyone else I know out there who has completed any official run in a gas mask. That it was a fuckin’ marathon of all things, means Calvin Devine yet again takes the prize for being a hard-chargin’ son-of-a-gun, and pioneer of GMR™.

So far so good. By this time I had been training in my gas mask for a year; often with the additions of the other gear. I was fulfilling a dream that had been over ten years old by that point. I had tried to run the NYC Marathon in all the gear in 2001 but severely injured myself by training like a neurotic idiot. Soon would be my day. Not only would I be the first to run a marathon in a gas mask (or so I thought), I would blow away all other attempts for years to come by doing so with the flak jacket, Kevlar helmet & 10 lb baton as well. I’d get a Guinness World Record, I would become famous and everyone would think I was cool. There was no one else who could do what I was doing. Nothing could pissib-lye go wrong. Than I saw this…

Enter, the SUPERHORNET!

I first caught wind of Jeremy Soles with a blog article in The Sniper about a former Marine sergeant who had on September 26, 2009 run a half-marathon in Richmond, Virginia while wearing a gas mask. Until I hear otherwise, this makes him the first person to ever receive a  Guinness World Record for Gas Mask Running™. I was devastated. Not only was my idea already being done, but was being done well by someone who looked like they could play the part. That he also got a Guinness World Record added to the burn of my skinned ego. With his veiny biceps, rippling deltoids glistening with sweat and a rack of abs you could scrub your laundry on, Jeremy Soles was on a whole other planet than me when it came to physical fitness.

In addition to being a runner, he looked like he’s spent an awful lot of time throwing weights around, which I suspected was his primary form of exercise. With the addition of the super-slick M-45 gas mask with hydration system and some hot, sporty duds, Jeremy Soles wasn’t just some guy in gas maskhe had a shtick. Basically, he was intimidating as hell. I began to think he reminded me of a sleek, powerful, fighter-jet. And then it hit me– this guy’s like the newer-bigger-better-badder F-18: he’s a SUPER HORNET! All the more appropriate as both these “Super Hornets” are U.S. Marines. He was also running for a non-profit organization he founded called Team X-T.R.E.M.E., that aimed to rehabilitate wounded veterans. On the other hand, Iiiiii was running for my favorite cause, to end the War On Drugs by supporting the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org). Suddenly I felt like an even bigger dork.

Another point of contention with myself was that it never occurred to me that I could get world record credit for running a half-marathon in a gas mask. I had been thinking big– a little too big it seems, and could have been established and on the map much earlier. I was hoping to start with a full-marathon in NYC 2009 with the gas mask and all the other gear, as that was part of my “artistic vision”. I had been running in the streets of NYC but avoided participating in New York Road Runner runs Swineflu-style because I wanted to keep the gas mask out of that arena until more developed and had been keeping the two separate. I had by that time been running with a gas mask consistently and could do so for 12 or 13 miles without breaking a sweat. In October of 2009, I had finally made it up to 21 miles with the gas mask and the addition of the flak, helmet & baton– which was an ass-kicking endeavor that left me cold, hard trippin’ for over a week. Run a half-marathon for world record credit? Why bother? Well, the reasons were speaking for themselves.

So now I discovered that I had competition (if only in my own mind) for being the avant garde of gas mask running, I felt a dire sense of urgency to get some fire under my ass and my game ON! SuperHornet had been the first to get a Guinness for the half-marathon, but now I was determined to be the first to go for a full-marathon.

My first try came with the 2009 New York City Marathon in early November. I could not complete it as intended for reasons I will have to explain another day. For now, let’s just say that on the morning of the event, Swineflu Avenger got demoted to “Army Guy.”

I found nothing on the interwebs to indicate SuperHornet was planning on running a full-marathon in a gas mask, but I had a feeling in my gut that there was no way he wasn’t. He was a highly motivated, truly dedicated Jarhead, and I know those people and how they think. It was only a matter of time before SuperHornet would take the big plunge. Although a paragon of physical fitness, he seemed more like a body-builder than a runner. Research indicated he was in his early 30s, as tall as me (6’2″) and weighing in at a whopping 235 lbs. of lean, solid muscle. Each of his shoulders alone was the size of my head, and that meant his time was probably on the slow side. I figured SuperHornet was likely to take some time to build up the stamina to go full on. Winter was coming up so marathon season was moving to warmer climes. While there was a nerve-wracking chance that he would run a less popular marathon before then, I was willing to bet he was gearing up for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. the following year. This would give me a window of opportunity to get the drop on SuperHornet knowing that pound-for-pound, he was a much better athlete than me and could post a time that would be hard for me to beat. If he wasn’t faster than me now, I had little doubt he would be very soon.

On my journey towards the full marathon, I beat SuperHornet‘s time for “Fastest HALF-Marathon in a Gas Mask” and got the Guinness World Record it, but I’ll discuss more of that later. And eventually I did get the Guinness World Record for “Fastest Marathon in a Gas Mask” at the 2010 San Francisco Marathon on July 25th. For three glorious months I, Swineflu Mother-Fuckin’ Avenger, was theeFastest Marathon in a Gas Mask” with a time of 5 hrs 4 min & 6 sec. While I am now certain I wasn’t the first to do so ever, I’m pretty sure I was the first to do so and have it qualify for a Guinness World Record– unless of course it turns out that Calvin “Sherman Tank” Devine beat me on that one too.

On Sunday October 31st, Jeremy Soles ran the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon, beat my time and got the Guinness World Record. His time was just under 4 & 1/2 hours. Of note, he did so in an Avon C-50 model gas mask, which is specifically designed for reduced user breathing resistance.” To my mind, this entirely defeats the purpose of running with a gas mask in the first place. For the purposes of  Gas Mask Running™ and Pulmonary Resistance™, “reduced user breathing resistance” reduces the gas mask to little more than an affectation. I’ll get more into this on another post. Still, running a marathon at all is commendable, and doing so in 4 & 1/2 hours with any kind of restricted breathing even more so, and doing so for a worthy cause all the more so than that. It looks like SuperHornet and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. is also being sponsored by Avon Protection, the manufacturers of the C-50, the S-10, and a whole bunch of other great gas masks. This I must admit, makes me so envious I could cry.

I also ran the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon and got world record credit for it with Universal Records DataBase. I had run the entire thing with an M-17 gas mask, flak jacket and Kevlar helmet with a time of 5 hrs 34 min & 13 sec.

Between Sherman Tank, Swineflu Avenger and SuperHornet, it was only a matter of time before yet another would take the prize. So far, all the gas mask marathonners like myself have had relatively slow times. While I may have a stereotypical “runners build”, I’m not terribly fast. Calvin “Sherman Tank” & Jeremy “SuperHornet” Soles are heavyweights with limited ability for speed. GMR™(1) has yet to catch on with real runners– well, real fast, more serious runners yet. Then, it started kicking in– BAM!

Behold, the TORNADO!

This is “Senior Aircraftman” (SAC) Andrew McMahon, a reservist with the British Royal Air Force and a real runner. He’s long, lean, experienced and not fucking around. He’s also previously earned a Guinness World Record for having completed the Lochaber Marathon in the U.K. in April 2009 while wearing full combat gear, including “boots-n-utes”, flak jacket and helmet (but no baton/simulated rifle)– and doing so in 3 hrs 49 min and 21 sec.

The Tornado Cometh! Lochaber, UK, 2009.

This indicates that he’s a specialist when it comes to running and has been dedicated to it for a long time. I feel it is only appropriate that Andy McMahon be given the nickname “Tornado” after the RAFs fighter/bomber. He too, runs for a charity– the RAF Benevolent Fund, which helps families of RAF personnel.

On April 17th 2011, wearing a military issue Avon S-10 gas mask, Andy “Tornado” McMahon completed the London Marathon with a time of 3 hr 54 min 55 sec. He blasted an incredible 35 whole minutes off the world record time. Awesome! For a little while there, I actually thought there was a possibility I might steal the gas mask marathon record back from SuperHornet. Once Tornado got hold of it, I knew I didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ever seeing it again.

SSgt Marc “Apache” Dibernardo at the 8.5 mile “Aloha Run” this year.

The latest person to join the ranks of world record class gas mask runners is Staff Sergeant Marc Dibernardo of the U.S. Army. Barely two fuckin’ weeks after the Tornado ripped through London, SSgt. Dibernardo did much the same on May 1st, for the North Shore Marathon in Oahu, Hawaii. He shaved 5 minutes off the record with a time of 3 hrs, 49 min & 42 sec while wearing an M-40 gas mask. This record has yet to be officially posted by Guinness World Record, so I imagine the application is still being processed. Being that he’s a member of a U.S. Army assault helicopter battalion, this gas mask runner needs a special nickname…

The Apache tears up Oahu!

Duck, motherfucker! Here comes the APACHE!

The charity that Apache runs for is “Team Red, White and Blue” who supports wounded veterans and their families. He has been running in a gas mask since 2003, but even without one he must have been a very accomplished runner to begin with.

I have the feeling we are about to embark upon a “Golden Age of Gas Mask Running™”(3). As people discover the increased health benefits of running in a gas mask, as well as getting more involved in competition that has only started, I’m sure we are soon to see gas mask running becoming a sport unto itself for everyday athletes and novices as well. I hope it won’t stay in the hands of only the most serious of runners.

(1) “GMR™” = “Gas Mask Running™” by Swineflu Avenger, “New Whitey/First Civilian Division”. That’s right, bitches!
(2) “GMRs™” = “Gas Mask Runners” by Swineflu Avenger, “New Whitey/First Civilian Division”. That’s right, bitches!
(3) “Golden Age of Gas Mask Running™” by Swineflu Avenger, “New Whitey/First Civilian Division”. That’s right, bitches!

**All contents of this blog, including original, specialized terminology regarding gas mask training are trademarked & copyrighted by New Whitey/First Civilian Division, 2011.**

In a post 9-11 world, running around anywhere in public while wearing a gas mask may not sound like too hot an idea. For reasons that are not as obvious as one may think, the gas mask carries a social stigma- one of fear. While this is understandable, being that the perception of a gas mask is the threat of “gas”, it is also a shame because the gas mask is waaaaay more than that– or at least, it can be.

When gas mask running here in my home town of New York, I have had to confront not only the potential prejudice of others and the understandable concern of lawful authorities, but also my own fears of having possibly transgressed an unspoken barrier of social contract. For a long time, I was worried that at any given moment I might, despite quite innocent motivations, suddenly become the focus of acute fear and that people might actually perceive me as a threat. Whatever it might look like, I am indeed sensitive to the mores and taboos of the society in which I live and do not necessarily have a problem with them most of the time. Believe it or not, I hate to think my activities may lead me to be a pariah. Thankfully, after nearly three years of consistent gas mask jogging in the very heart of 9-11 land, this has not happened.

I’m quite lucky. New York City has a long tradition of giving a wide berth to the unexpected and unusual. New Yorkers will put up with a lot of shit, but we won’t necessarily take shit. I’m sure that if I were to loose my bearing while gas mask jogging in their town, New Yorkers would be all over me like stink on a gorilla, and I would be praying for the police to rescue me from their clutches. Yet with very few exceptions, I have been allowed to make my way all over NYC without hindrance. This is in no small part to the efforts I have put in to “demilitarizing” my appearance as much as possible.

Originally my concept for the Gas Mask Jogger/Swineflu Avenger included the military-based look. While this may be hard to avoid, given that I am wearing a military issue gas mask, flak jacket, helmet & carrying a 10 lb baton/simulated rifle, I found that I felt more comfortable, and also felt that others would feel more comfortable if I were to look less militant. Besides, “militant” isn’t exactly my style, although I am a proponent of using the military mindset, skills and knowledge for purposes of self- and civic-empowerment. So, I wear a blaze orange safety vest with reflective strips over the flak jacket, had a custom made matching helmet cover for the Kevlar brain bucket, reflective orange gloves, and have covered my baton in blaze orange gaffers tape. Previously, high visibility material was an accoutrement to the gear, while now it has become a central feature.

Typical Swineflu in full gear.

The blaze orange covering has advantages. Firstly, it makes me not only visible, but glaringly visible. I am a safety nut– maybe not all the time, but certainly when it comes to Swineflu Avenging. Wearing a gas mask places one in a state of sensory deprivation. There is a loss of peripheral vision, a feeling of claustrophobia to the uninitiated and the distraction of having a near two pound slab of silicone strapped to you face. The rest of the gear doesn’t help the situation. Appearing as a shiny, twinkling orange blob to motor vehicles, bikes & pedestrians is in everyone’s best interest. It prevents casualties which must be avoided at all costs, which leads me to the first two rules of Swineflu Avenging…

Rule #2– injuring oneself is almost the worst thing that can possibly happen while gas mask running.

Rule #1– becoming responsible for someone else’s injury is absolutely thee worst thing that can possibly happen while gas mask running.

My primary purpose, as a gas mask runner, in to train. If I am broke, I can’t train. My secondary purpose, although it follows on the heels of the primary one, is to promote the gas mask as the most awesomest exercise device the world has seen in the modern age– and I intend to be it’s ambassador. If anything bad happens to me or someone else while I am wearing a gas mask in public, I have not only fucked things up for me, I have done so for the gas mask. This might also deprive many people the exhilarating, empowering experience of training is a gas mask, and I would certainly not want to do that.

Secondly, the blaze orange gear (I hope) allays any fears that I may be up to no good. Yes, I may be someone in a gas mask, but provided I continue to otherwise behave respectfully, the orange safety gear should contribute to the gas mask being overlooked as a potential threat. I become visible enough to enter ones field of vision even at it’s most peripheral. As such, there is a part of our brains that is always tracking vision and movement. A bright orange blob will be spotted and tracked by our brains long before we would ever become consciously aware of it. Theoretically at least, if you were to be suddenly surprised by the fact that there was someone across the street running by in a gas mask, you would have already been subconsciously aware of the presence of an orange spot having entered your field of vision and moving slowly past long beforehand. Therefore, you might not find the situation so startling.

The blaze orange covering also provides me with an even surface upon which to affix identifying name tapes as well as carefully chosen propaganda material, namely in support of the Drug Policy Alliance (NO MORE DRUG WAR!) and Subvoyant Post-Production, my home away from home. It positively affirms my identity as a Swineflu Avenger and gas mask runner-in-training, who wishes to avoid any mishap or misunderstanding and pass peacefully through the world. It also puts me out in the open in such a way that there can be no dispute that I am not trying to sneak around. I have nothing to hide and what you see is what you get.

If you see Swineflu-- say Swineflu!

Still, people may not always be thinking the way I would like them to and I must leave room for things to go wrong with their perceptions. After all there is a “War On Terror”, and while I personally feel that it’s purpose has less to do with protecting us from “terrorists” and more to do with us terrorizing ourselves, I can’t blame anyone for thinking the worst. As far as I’m concerned, the so-called “War On Terror” has turned most Americans into a bunch of sniveling pussies who’ll shit their panties the moment the world fails to conform to their expectations. Like it or not, running around New York in a gas mask may play a part in that which I do not intend. Basically, 9-11 really fucked things up for gas mask running. Too bad.

Lastly, by being shrouded in blaze orange reflective gear, Swineflu Avenger is offering a courtesy to lawful authority and security concerns by providing a clear and easy target. I have never, ever been so cocky as to think that I wasn’t possibly walking on eggshells with the general public and law enforcement. I have run in full Swineflu mode through such places as Wall Street, Times Square, routinely run over the Brooklyn Bridge and up Center Street in Manhattan, past all manner of government buildings. I may be deliberately pushing boundaries (however gently?), but I do so always assuming that I am in the cross-hairs of a police sniper’s rifle, and am being very carefully tracked as I pass by. Let there be no doubts that I offer myself humbly to all those who might need to take me out, as the easiest damned target they ever had.

If you’re not scoping me out down a rifle barrel, you’ll be happy to know that acquiring a good sight picture on a Swineflu Avenger should be no problem for even the most jittery of pistol wielders. All you gotta do is put the little “snow man” (1) on the “big orange blob” and gently pull the trigger. My flak jacket is the old PASGT model and was designed to protect the wearer from low-velocity, oddly-shaped projectiles. If you throw a rock or beer bottle at me, there’s a good chance it won’t penetrate. And while there is some conjectural evidence on the interwebs that the PASGT vest can stop the smallest of rounds, there is no doubt in my mind that anything 9mm and above is gonna go straight through it– and into me.

To drive it home, the orange reflective gloves allow my hands to be seen at all times. This is not just convenient for using hand signals in traffic, but also lets anyone know where my hand are in relation to my body, avoiding potential accidents. If/whenever I get stopped by police, my hand movements are readily observed.

My baton is a “simulated rifle” for the purposes of Swineflu-type training, but covered in blaze orange tape allows its outline to be clearly seen and leaves less room for surprises. Most people seem to think it is a wiffle bat of some sort. I have to know for us both that it is indeed a ten pound steel rod, 39.5 inches long. While encased in foam rubber, it does have the potential of injury, which as has been stated, is my goal to avoid at all costs. Fyi, I have never dropped the baton while in the process of Swineflu Avenging.

So this leaves us with my one big beef concerning the issue of the gas mask and possible public perception of it as a threat. I’m one of those crazy people who sincerely believes that if you are doing nothing wrong, then you are doing nothing wrong. This includes activities that others may not appreciate, understand or even be outright hostile to. I hate having the feeling that I am doing something wrong when I know I’m not, and will do everything I can to prove otherwise.

There is nothing wrong with wearing a gas mask in public.

Of course there is common sense involved and one must be prepared to answer questions to the curious and concerned. The only caveat so far as I have ever been able to figure out is that one is not allowed to hide ones face with the intent, or while in the process, of committing a felony, as this would be wrong– in case anyone was getting it confused with the statement above.

Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler-- one of the greatest Punk Rockers of all time, and the patron saint of Swineflu Avenging!

While I must admit that twice I have heard from police officers that it is “against the law to cover your face in public” (once in passing, the other time more definitively– but in good spirits), I can only assume this is with felonious activity in mind. After all, if this were true, all forms of face covering at all times would be illegal, and this would be downright nutty. If it is cold and someone is wearing a ski-mask, is it illegal? What if it is not cold but they just feel like it? Granted, wearing a full-face Halloween mask in Springtime would be weird, but if you aren’t actually doing anything wrong, what difference does it make? What of people wearing religious garb? If an area is open to the public, should someone in a burqa be any less threatening than an orange-clad jogger in a gas mask?

Well, maybe. I guess my point is that it is all a matter of context and public perception. There has been little or no precedence until now for a gas mask to represent anything other than “gas” or “someone deliberately concealing their identity for the purpose of committing a felony”. I would of course like to see this changed. I also argue that the gas mask actually offers little in way a threat.

If one decided to use the gas mask simply to conceal their identity as part of a criminal activity, then they have made a poor choice. Unless that person was one of those multitasking types was out to exercise their lungs while holding up a liquor store, they would find their breathing inhibited to a detrimental degree– even if the mask was performing adequately. Depending on the type of mask they were using, they might find themselves passing out. With certain models, if the filters aren’t fitted right or the valves are faulty, the wearer could be re-breathing their own carbon dioxide. Better to just get a paper bag and poke a couple of holes in it.

Unless you know what you are getting into, chances are your gas mask is at best obsolete. Surplus masks are unreliable for anything except as costume. Just because a gas mask has a “filter” on it, that does not mean it is effective for anything related to Nuclear/Biological/Chemical protection. If you do some research and are lucky, you may be able to get something that would be effective for general air pollution, but that would be all. If the mask isn’t fitted properly, not only will you be uncomfortable, but you’ll be compromising its ability to protect you. Most likely, the average mask wouldn’t even work for tear gas. I hope to get into more detail about this later.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you ever saw a “terrorist”? Was that “terrorist” wearing a gas mask? Did the fact that s/he was wearing a gas mask have any bearing on the type of antisocial act they were committing? In other words, was any kind of “gas” used as an active part of that event?

Despite the 9-11 and Oklahoma City “terrorist” attacks, neither had anything to do with threatening gas or the use of gas masks in any way. In Europe, where actual terrorist attacks have been way more commonplace over the past sixty years than in the United States and prepared for at every turn, I can’t find any evidence that either gas or gas masks have played any role. Fifteen years ago in Japan a destructive religious cult set off sarin gas bombs in the Tokyo subway, but so far as I can tell, the attackers themselves did not use gas masks while committing the act.

Besides, I do not see how “terrorism” can represent any real, practical threat against the common American citizen. A mere three-thousands people died in the 9-11 incident. While it was certainly a dramatic horror without compare to the American psyche, our grotesque overreaction to it is hardly warranted, and is nothing when compared to the type of shit the United States has been up to during its spotty history. Instead of responding to a complex situation with introspection, brainpower and patience, we immediately opted to use brutality. We think violence can solve our problems, and this is the hallmark of a sadistic, psychopathic personality. There is a considerable discrepancy between our national persona and our true selves; our ego and our alter-ego. We are not the nice guy angels we make ourselves out to be. This however, is a little off the topic, so I’ll spare you– for now.

To put the 9-11 death toll in perspective, remember that FOUR-HUNDRED and FIFTY THOUSAND Americans die every single year from tobacco related causes alone. Throw on an extra three-hundred and fifty thousand more for bad diet and one-hundred and twenty thousand for alcoholism. Additionally, when one considers the total number of American lives that are wasted because we don’t have an adequate national health care system, coupled with all the other forms of preventable death experienced in the United Sates, the death toll comes to around a cool one million a year. Compared to this number, an isolated three-thousand would almost be a pittance– if we weren’t talking about human lives.

Also keep in mind that our economy collapsed due solely to the decisions and behaviors of other Americans calling themselves “Conservative” and “experts” who led us to believe they were “fiscally responsible” and protecting our best financial interests. As Americans, we routinely engage in the kind of self-destructive behavior that any terrorist could only dream of causing. We are our own worst enemy. To think otherwise is delusional.

I believe that at best, the cause of 9-11 was a failure of our security forces to prevent it, and not simply an act of “terrorists”, from whom I would expect nothing less. Someone doped our watch dogs and put the guards to sleep. Perhaps it was simply incompetence, perhaps it was calculated. If you can’t figure out what I really think by now, I’ll tell you some other time.

If public fear over terrorist threats could be construed as a reason against the gas mask, then I argue that…

…any law preventing Private Citizens from wearing gas masks in public would be to deprive them of the ability to train with the one piece of equipment that could save their lives during a terrorist attack.

Keepin' it real.

Gas mask training by the general public would empower people into being less fearful of attack or intimidated by the authorities trying to protect them. At worst, it would improve their cardiopulmonary health by leaps and bounds. And that would be if you believed “terrorism” posed a significant threat. Iiiii, on the other hand, do not — and wish to promote the gas mask as a health device. Anyone who has ever been exposed to dense, urban traffic knows all too well the perils of being forced to inhale noxious gas. Imagine running in it. There is no reason why anyone should have to tolerate the very real and immediate threat of pollution when they don’t have to. Wearing a gas mask in such environments eliminates all of these dangers because that is exactlywhat it was designed to do. No one should be afraid of this on account of misdirected public fear. And, if you couldn’t train in public, where else could you train?

Keepin' it REAL real!

There will always be the assholes who deliberately seek attention as part of committing an antisocial act– as opposed to the more sneaky types of assholes who appear completely “normal” as part of committing an antisocial act. I have to concede that I may well get confused with the former, and that this may lead to occasional trepidation by the public or warranted inquiries from law enforcement. I am very happy to say that virtually all of my experiences with the public and the law have been positive and that I have never been told to stop what I was doing or that if I were to continue to do it, I would be arrested. If confronted by police, I have always taken off my mask immediately and offered to show them positive identification before they even have a chance to ask me first. If in contact with police who are not otherwise confronting me, I always offer to remove my mask as a courtesy. There have been plenty of times when a police officer was just making a curious inquiry as to my motivations, provoking a friendly discussion, rather than an actual confrontation. When passing any police officers, vehicles or posts, I always give a salute and greeting. More often than not, I have the salute returned.

To be sure, in Fall of 2009 I sent letters of intent, describing the Swineflu Avenger project, along with pictures and copies of positive identification to Mayor Bloomberg, NYPD Commissioner Kerry and at least five NYPD Precinct commanders around New York, including the Central Park Precinct, where I do most of my training these days– and  I never heard back from them. Let me be on the record that as Swineflu Avenger, I have done everything I can to be completely transparent about my intentions and candid about my activities. I hold myself solely responsible for my actions and all consequences stemming from them. I have always made myself available to inquiries from anyone who asked and despite my appearance, have done everything I can to mind my own business and make the smallest impression possible. Furthermore, I attest that I have never made the life of lawful authority any harder than it already needs to be.

Unfortunately, there are communities that may not have such a wide berth for the unusual as New York City. Such places may absolutely object to anyone wearing a gas mask for any reason other than an officer or soldier in the line of duty. There are those people and authorities that may believe that because one is doing something different, that this gives them the right to be an asshole. I would love to hear the stories of any brave soul who wished to jog around Washington D.C. in a gas mask for some reason. Still, if you are doing nothing wrong, you are doing nothing wrong. If a free, private, common American citizen or legal resident wishes to do a little gas mask training s/he should by all means oblige. There may be a few hairy eyeballs or the occasional un-empathetic police officer to answer to, but why should that stop you? “Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect”, the motto of the NYPD, also goes a long way for anyone doing something unorthodox in the public sphere.

I feel strongly that ones mental and physical health are the next American Revolution. If you are patriotic in any way, either to this country or some other, to humanity or Life in general, then it is in your interest to live as long and as healthy a life as possible. This makes us available to be of service to our fellow living creatures and helps make the world a better place. Gas mask training is probably the greatest step one can take in this direction after exercise itself. There is nothing that one can do without wearing a gas mask that wearing a gas mask won’t make better. Not even sex. Perhaps especially not even sex. (2)

With this, I sincerely wish that anyone who might care to don a gas mask in the name of strengthening the heart & lungs, protecting their respiratory tract from ambient pollution, improving ones health in general or just plain old doing something fun & freaky– feel free to do so safely and in good spirits, without any negative repercussions.

PS: While in Swineflu mode, on more than one occasion I have been asked if I was a “Libertarian”. For the record, my response is “Hells NO. Libertarians are a bunch of pussiesI AM AN ANARCHIST!”

(1) The “snow man” refers to two dots used on pistols to line up the front and rear sights. When the two dots are one on top of the other, the shooter will know the barrel is pointed straight– and so will I.

(2) Swineflu Avenger can neither confirm nor deny that he has ever been involved in any gas mask related sexcapades– with another person.

**All contents of this blog, including original, specialized terminology regarding gas mask training are trademarked & copyrighted by New Whitey/First Civilian Division, 2011.**

Greetings!

This is Swineflu Avenger, aka: The Gas Mask Jogger. I am an aspiring amateur athlete, physical fitness enthusiast and pseudo-performance artist; born, raised and currently living in New York City. It is my wish to promote the simple, common gas mask as the most awesomest physical fitness tool since hominids were first chased up trees by saber-toothed tigers.

I have been continuously running in the streets of New York City with a gas mask since Fall of 2008. I had initially started in the Summer of 2001, but overzealous training using the “no pain, no gain” philosophy led me to severe injury from which it would take years to recover. That however, is another story.

My personal fitness goal is to be able to run marathon distances (26.2 miles or more) wearing a gas mask, flak jacket, Kevlar helmet while carrying a ten pound baton– and maybe set a record or two along the way. I am progressing toward completing my goal, but the closer I get, the farther away it seems. You know, like that weird camera effect in scary movies when someone realizes something and it gets all, like, weird and stuff.

The closest I’ve come so far to achieving this was on Sunday October 10th, 2010, when I ran the “Staten Island Half-Marathon” with all the gear in the morning, and ran almost the same distance in Central Park later that day.

Shy of my big goal, some other notable runs I’ve done thus far are…

Saturday May 22, 2010, I completed the “Brooklyn Half-Marathon” in NYC while wearing a gas mask, flak jacket, Kevlar helmet and carrying a ten pound baton. It took me 2 hours, 36 minutes and 59 seconds. It earned me my first Guinness World Record, although only for “Fastest Half-Marathon in a Gas Mask”. The other equipment did not play a factor in setting the record.

Sunday July 25th, 2010, San Francisco, CA. I completed the “San Francisco Marathon” in the gas mask alone, without too much problem. It took me 5 hours, 4 minutes and 6 seconds. It earned me my second Guinness World Record. To my knowledge I was the first person to ever receive a world record for running a full marathon in a gas mask.

Sunday September 26th, 2010, New York, NY. I ran the “Fifth Avenue Mile” in gas mask alone. A one-mile run, it took me 5 minutes, 54 seconds. For this I had my first world record with Universal Record DataBase.

Sunday October 10th, 2010, Staten Island, NY. I ran the “Staten Island Half-Marathon”– 13.1 miles in 2 hrs, 17 min & 45 sec, with gas mask, flak jacket, Kevlar helmet & 10 lb baton. This earned me my second world record with URDB.

Sunday October 31st, 2010, Washington D.C. I ran the “Marine Corps Marathon” with gas mask, flak jacket and Kevlar helmet. My time was 5 hrs, 34 min & 13 sec. and earned me my third record with URDB.

Saturday November 20th, 2010, I completed the “Knickerbocker 60K” ultra-marathon in NYC in gas mask alone. 37.2 miles, it took me 8 hours, 18 minutes and 47 seconds. For this I have my fourth world record with URDB for “Longest Distance Ever Run While Wearing a Gas Mask.”

On Sunday September 25th, 2011, I ran the “ING New York Marathon Tune-Up” wearing my gas mask alone. I completed the 18 mile course in 3 hours, 26 minutes and 41 seconds. This gave me my fifth record with Record Setters the record-keeping group formerly known as URDB.

Whatever it may look like, I am not a highly trained, nor particularly skilled athlete. The times I’ve set in my records are at best remarkably average, even though I was wearing a gas mask. I like having established these records, making most of them accessible to more average runners like myself to be able to beat. I take great pride in being a total hack — a DIY amateur, albeit a motivated one. I LOVE running around in a gas mask, but I have no special talent for running. I’m barely disciplined enough make it to the end of the day. I only ever put in the absolute bare minimum amount of training needed to get the job done — and no more. In fact, I am the laziest person I know. Even when not doing so in a gas mask and military gear, I don’t run very fast, nor have ever tried too hard to do so.

It is only through the help of my two good friends PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE that I have been able to train the way I have. With their help, and a little motivation, I am convinced that anyone — oh, but anyone — is capable of wearing a gas mask and running around a little bit, thereby benefiting their health in ways hardly imaginable.

Read further if you like, and I’ll tell you everything I know about running with a gas mask.

Peace & Love,

-Swineflu Avenger

**All contents of this blog, including original, specialized terminology regarding gas mask training are trademarked & copyrighted by New Whitey/First Civilian Division, 2011.**