Friday, May 09, 2008

Gaunt Like Me

I promised to steal the seed of an idea I found (or imagined?) embedded in Viper’s post and germinate it on my own as I had zero confidence in his ability to raise it right. So, here is that thought orphan below, stolen but watered properly and sprouting nicely. (After all, everyone knows a seed won’t sprout when hydrated with Bitburger.)

Runners are a peculiar group. We read the same magazines. We generally gravitate to a healthier nutritional lifestyle. We openly discuss things that shoot out of our noses. We are fascinated by the subtle changes in rubber treads on a pair of shoes. We’re proud and freely show off our black toenails.

Yes, we are weird. Admit it. Some of you are really weird (the page the majority of folks who enter this site – besides the generic address – is STILL this one. Sickos.)

There was something that struck me while strolling amongst the thousands of runners on the streets of Boston recently. We are a gaunt, sickly looking group. What? That’s right, I said it. Someone had to say it. Mrs. Nitmos and I were transversing Washington St. near Boston Common one day, feeling smug and superior as I normally do, when I began noticing all the folks on the sidewalks wearing their Boston Marathon jackets. And they were awfully thin. Like, a little hunched over and anorexic looking. Cheeks sunken in. Eyes hollowed. Some of these folks were becoming a little off balance due to the wind force created by the opening of a nearby taxi door.

I checked the department store windows for my reflection – again, as I normally do, but this time to check for the same symptoms – to see if I in fact appeared to be a survivor of the Bataan Death March.* Nope. The familiar vigorous, Herculean figure stared back at me (it even winked and made a little pistol shot at me with its index finger and thumb).

Of course, runner’s are generally healthy. I’m not saying these folks weren’t. In fact, most of ‘em probably smoked me in the marathon a day later. There was just something a little alarming though about how it manifested itself in their physical appearance. In my book, there should be SOME cheek fat. Just sayin. When your cheeks actually become concave and are suitable storage for your car keys, its time to cut back on the miles.

This describes a small minority of the running community but, c’mon, don’t leave me on an island here. You’ve seen them. You’ve secretly thought to yourself that ‘damn, that doesn’t look right.’ I admire super fit, dedicated runner’s as much as the next. I’m just sayin’ there’s a threshold - a delicate cheek fat balance we’ll call it – that shouldn’t be crossed.

I didn’t want to go bringing vanity all up in here but something has to be said. This cannot be ignored any longer. I do not want to see the detailed ridges of a runners skull, cheekbones and jaw. If this describes you, eat a Twinkie. Become less healthy. Slow down. Make your race photo look more like a Glamour Shot than an extra from Night of the Living Dead. Please. This is just more fuel for the anti-running Runner Haters crowd (‘oh, look, he looks likes he’s dying (snort). That’s real healthy. Now I can go back to my cigarette and cup of drinkable Crisco'.)

I immediately put Mrs. Nitmos under orders to lock up my running shoes and switch me over to a diet of fatburgers and mayonnaise soaked fries if symptoms start to appear. Our Concavator** is on order.

I will not have a marathon referred to as a “running of the skeletons” again.

Be fit. Be strong. But make sure you have ample cheek coverage. If your eyes start retreating into the back of your skull for protection, folks, that ain’t natural.

Happy trails.

* Too soon?
** This is a fictitious product I invented that measures the depth of cheek recession against a baseline pre-running standard. It doesn’t exist. But should.
I had a fun fartlek style speed work session last night. Four miles alternating 1/2 mile @ comfortably hard pace followed by 1/2 mile @ uncomfortably hard pace. Not quite a Limbo workout as I couldn't smooth out my times. Miles of 6:43, 6:36, 6:44, 6:33.
4.0 Miles
26:36 time
6:38 pace

Check Out:
The Running Laminator's PR in the half marathon.
Cranky Fitness goes
Remember to run
Nancy's 10k on the 10th tomorrow!


Topher said...

What they lack in cheek fat, I make up for in belly fat. I suppose it all averages out.

I see you're STILL reading Don Quixote. Dang, man, learn to read already.

Viper said...

Does that make me a seed?

Thanks for the link and the theft.

nwgdc said...

I only mention this because I'm well aware of the pristine standards you hold your writing (and appearance) to. Having said that, I feel you should know that there is a grammatical error in your post. You wrote:

"Of course, runner’s are generally healthy."

No need for the apostrophe, big guy. I'll be honest, I'm a bit disappointed in you and feel that your Word Snob score should reflect this error. Perhaps you're a bit hypoglycemic? Go get a Twinkie.

RazZDoodle said...

Makes you wonder how they even manage to wear sunglasses.

Xenia said...

Can't. Stop. Laughing.

I'm with Topher. No matter what weight I get down to, my cheeks will always be chubby (thanks for those genes, dad) so I help average it out as well.

Oh, and if you ever get to that point, have Mrs. Nitmos just send you to England. That about sums up the food regularly served in this country.

Danielle in Iowa said...

I got some cheek fat, it just likes to concentrate on my *other* cheeks...

Kevin said...

Yeah I dont think my cheeks will ever be that anorexic looking. Great post. Your creative use of words reminds me of Dennis Miller

Turi said...

Proud to be (just barely) a Clydesdale.

Marcy said...

I'm on and will always be on the Britney Spears diet. I don't think I'll be looking like I missed a meal or 17429472389 in a l-o-n-g time :P

Sarah said...

After losing 70 pounds I am starting to wonder if I have crossed that line from normal thin into scary thin territory. My bones are starting to stick out alarmingly. When I lie down my hipbones stick out like knives, I can hook my fingers into the hollows behind my collarbones, and I can count all of my ribs. I can even see the outline of my sternum. Have I gone too far? Is it bad that I want to continue to lose weight (only 10 more lbs, but still) because the less I weigh the faster I can run? I'm still a healthy weight for my height but I look like I weigh far less than I actually do because of all the muscle.

Paula Radcliffe is my height (5'8") and weighs 120 pounds. I think I would probably kill myself trying to weigh that little, so I'm going to stop around 140-145.

I still have plenty of cheek chub, though. I don't want to look like a walking (running?) bag of bones.

Vanilla said...

Hypothetically speaking if one wanted to procure drinkable Crisco where might one go to get it?

MissAllycat said...

I was called Apple Cheeks as a child (I'm still traumatized) so I don't think I'll ever have to worry about appearing gaunt. Damn it.

Betsy said...

Those skeletons aside, I think we can all agree that runners are sexy, sexy people.

The Laminator said...

Dude, is this one of your crazy attempts to lead everyone astry and 'fatten' everyone else up so you can beat 'em in a certain virtual 10K and claim success in your F.M.S. mission? Nice Try, Nitmos, but you actually have to RUN faster in order to BE faster.

jen said...

I did notice a lot of gaunt folks in Boston, but I was out there representin' the chubby cheek gang. I love food too much to ever become boney. And that's perfectly ok with me. :)

L*I*S*A said...

Um, 'ample cheek coverage' to me means my running skirt is staying in place.

So far, so good.

Nitmos said...

Crap. The Laminator discovered my strategy. Well, down go the Reeses and its back to running. I guess I should have went with a cloaking device not best described as "thinly veiled".

tange said...

Gaunt is good, lose me another 15 pounds!!!!

Mike said...

i have to resond slowly due to the cheetos dust on one hand. no gaunt here

Lily on the Road said...

ey carumba, being thin for me is a thing of the past....I have loads of cheek padding, face & otherwise....

Nice try on the thin veil of fatty deception, trust me, I won't blow away when you rip past me in the Virtual 10K today....see you at the finish line!

MizFit said...

Be fit. Be strong. But make sure you have ample cheek coverage.

is there a tee shirt on the way?
when I lived in the third world for a while I knew I was getting too skinny (amoeba driven) when people kept stopping me and asking if I were a distance runner.

sRod said...

Believe you me, this runner will never be described as gaunt. You can thanks my hardy Hispanic stock for that (thanks mom, dad, and decades of rices and beans).

Audrey said...

Out here in Boston someone was shooting a movie where they needed people to represent Holocaust victims being held in concentration camps. They sent out a casting call announcement to the local running clubs saying that long distance runners often have the thin/lithe/emaciated/slim [i forget the exact word they used] look they were going for and to please contact them if we wanted to be an extra.

Gmello said...

Oh god they were shooting ANOTHER holocaust movie? Haven't they done enough of those.

This is a very observant post, and funny as hell. I just wanted to point out the obvious (bc I'm not burdened with the weight of needing to be witty), that weighing less means your body has to pump less oxygen to all that extra body tissue, and that's why every elite distance runner from Deena Kastor to Ryan Hall to Haile Gebrselassie looks like a zombie.