Friday, May 30, 2008

Sour Balls

Wherein I discuss nutrition and use countless unnecessary parentheticals (like this.)

Nutrition is always a big topic in the running community. Or the fitness community at large. Or the average American household. Or or or. You get the point. It’s important.

I’ve had several discussions recently on this topic. How does nutrition affect our running? How does it affect the way we live? Why does it prevent me from subsisting on a diet of gummy bears and rum?

Mrs. Nitmos has mentioned the desire to move away from food high in preservatives and go a bit more organic. Dean Karnazes, in The Ultramarathon Man, suggests a similar switch. Both mention the impact to the wallet could be substantial but worth it. (See, Mrs. Nitmos and Dean K. (short for Karnazes) share a common bond (though my wife (a non-runner (who finds Dean’s exploits bordering on pure lunacy)) has never passed out in the middle of the road due to exhaustion(Dean was running the Western States (Endurance) 100))(Crap, I’ve gone and got lost in parentheticals)(Not sure how to get out)(Let’s try this)this?)(Or this?).)

))(()))((( There that should about cover it. I’m out.

Obviously, there is some correlation between diet and running speed. There has to be doesn’t there? Theoretically, the fitter you are the faster you should be all other variables being equal. Carrying extraneous weight does impact your ability to optimize your speed.

But there must be a balance. I like to be fit. I like to take strolls around the mall in my speedo and cowboy hat. I like spray on tans and gold chains. I dream of racing in this ensemble one day.

But I don’t want to give up my weekly fat burger and fries from Wendy’s. Or, like last night, my between meals snack of sour candy balls, nachos with extra cheese, sour candy balls, Crunch Berries, left over pack of Skittles (half full – I’m not a pig), and more sour candy balls (and maybe a full lick down of the inside of the empty bag.)

Can I just take a time out and discuss sour candy balls for a minute? God, I love these things. If these were organic or natural in any way, I’d describe them as Nature’s Candy. Instead, it’s just really delicious Regular Candy. I’m not talking about the old timey hard sour balls (the kind Grandpa keeps in a bowl mixed with the root beer drops) but the gooey, chewy, taffy like SOFT sour balls. I could literally eat a bowl of them right now. And wash it down with some Captain Morgan’s. Screw this Nutri-Grain bar sitting on my desk. Your total fat grams – a measly 3 – aren’t going to cut it.

I have a hard time finding the soft sour balls. They are not sold in most convenience stores. The only place to reliably have them? MC Sports. No kidding. (BTW that’s not a sports related rapper but a Midwestern sports apparel/equipment shop.) I can look at shoe porn AND buy me some sour balls? God love it. Heaven on earth, truly.

Anyway, I got off track somewhere. I refuse to reread the mumbo jumbo I’ve already typed to figure out where. I can’t believe you’ve even stuck around this long. Since you’re still here, I’ll continue. (Pretty pathetic though if you ask me.)

Okay…cowboy hats and speedo’s…oh, yes, let’s talk nutrition. As a general rule, I try and eat more fruits and veggies as in between meal snacks. Unless, of course, there are sour balls around (see previous discussion) in which case I embark on an orgy of sugar fueled gluttony. The fruits and veggies seem to keep the waist line in check and provide me the added benefit of looking down my nose at my co-workers as they pump quarters into the vending machine for the 550 calorie king size Snickers bar (oh, man, I wish they had sour balls in there!) I’ll say, “Wow, that’s a lot of calories. About a quarter of your daily allowance. I’m just having me some carrots. Notice my cut abs?” At which point, I raise my shirt and smile. People like me.

When it gets closer to race day, I try to swear off sugars completely. And by “swearing off”, I mean wait an extra hour before dipping my hand into the bulk sweet tart bag.

Sugars, alcohol, and everything that tastes good or gets you inebriated is supposed to be harmful on race day. Like a good little teetotaler, I refrain as best as my will power will allow at least two weeks out before the race.

And I have to admit, I do feel a bit calmer, gaunter, and, generally, less assholeish the longer I stay off the devil’s fruit. Not sure how you translate this to race times though. F.M.S. research labs will have to come up with another over simplistic formula for this.

Come post race, however, I can’t shovel it in fast enough. Candy? Yes. Beer? Need you ask? Extra vicodin from cousin’s back surgery? Yes, please. Sour balls? I love you.

It’s amazing I don’t bloat out 30 lbs in just a couple of weeks. Since Boston, I’ve been on a month long, embarrassing tour of the worlds worst foods. So far, I haven’t gained any weight. My hoo-ha is still visible when looking straight down.

To recap (as I know most of you have a very limited attention span):

- Take nutrition seriously
- Eat your greens and fruits.
- Avoid overuse of parentheticals.
- Candy sour balls are delicious.
- Eating right helps your race performance
- Post race, give into cravings and overindulge to the point of being obnoxious.
- Retain visual connection with your hoo-ha.

Happy trails.

Last night, another failed Limbo Run. Crap, I dropped too many seconds in the second mile causing me to misjudge the third mile.

4.5 miles
6:37 pace

Limbo attempt full miles of 6:53, 6:34, 6:37 (missed!), 6:21.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Shoes and I are Splitting Up

My Asics GT2130’s and I have been having a long, emotional heart to heart talk recently. Something’s changed. They aren’t the same cuddly soft little foot pillows I’ve come to know and love.

Remember the 5 marathons we’ve run together? I didn’t blame you for the recent calve cramping. You did all you could.

Remember how happy I was when I transitioned from the Adidas Response line to my first Asics, the GT 2090’s? I felt like I was bounding on springs with a built in air conditioning unit.

I’d steal you away for walks in the park even though…shhhh…I wasn’t going to do any running. We’d just walk with my foot nestled in your supportive, cushioned embrace crunching daisies, twigs and, occasionally, the fragile, rotting skull of a dead squirrel.

Those were the days.

But you’ve changed. Your mid sole is harder. I don’t feel your cushiony softness anymore. I don’t feel your snug but roomy embrace as much.

I’m thinking about a trial separation.

I know you’ve seen me caressing the sleek curves and texture of the Nimbus line in the shoe department. I could feel your jealous tugging on the laces as I bent, twisted and molested the Nimbus’ sole.

Nimbus IX
I need to experiment with other shoes. I may need to try a more cushioned shoe. The Nimbus line looks real attractive and appears to be a good dancer. Maybe I’ll take them on a few spins just to try them out? Run a few miles…take a few walks in the park…crush a few squirrel heads…you know, the usual.

It must be hard for you. I’m not saying it’s permanent. My shoe needs have just changed.

Basically, it’s not you*. It’s me.

* My shoes are unable to read footnotes so, at this point, I’d like to emphasize it IS them and NOT me. Maybe if they didn’t start feeling like I’m wearing flippers and SLAP, SLAP, SLAP across the sidewalk, I wouldn’t be in the market for new shoes. The GT 2130’s walked out on me first.

My knee swelling subsided in time for Saturday's impromptu 6 miler. The neck pain remains. And it's a real pain in the...ass (what? too easy?)

My summer of speed continues with hard 800's in the 3-5 mile range and fartlek style weekend long runs in the 8-10 mile range. So far, I've been able to get my 800m times under 3 minutes consistently but just barely and I'm plateauing a bit. Work continues...

Congratulations to Vanilla for obliterating his 10k PR time!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Profiles in Running: Bayshore Edition

I did not run a race this weekend.

However, I was spectating a race, the Bayshore Marathon. So who had it tougher: the runners or spectators? I think we all know. Me.

As I’ve mentioned, there were 3 Steers LDP members running Bayshore this weekend. One was breaking his marathon cherry, one was desiring just to finish on limited training, and one was hoping to set a PR in a push for a future BQ attempt.

For those who’s spouses are not runners, you know what it’s like to drag your significant other to race events, make them get up at ungodly early hours, and then post race, listen to nonstop recaps of every mile including where you placed your body glide and where you should have placed your body glide. Really, I feel for the non-running spouse having to deal with this.

Now, try dragging your spouse out of bed at 5 AM so she can go down to help you cheer on other folks running the race. Ah, Mrs. Nitmos is quite the trooper. I won’t say she was smiling the whole time. But there was a smile in their somewhere. She was only pretending to be tired and completely disinterested. And pretending well.

We saw the Steers crew at the start and then again near the 7 mile mark. Each one were evenly spaced and looked strong. Each seemed to be on course for the performance they were expecting.

Bayshore is a small town marathon on a beautiful stretch of road heading out a peninsula on a down and back course. It’s a pure runner’s race (i.e. not a lot of surrounding hoopla and little spectator support) so it’s a bit more mentally challenging than some of the larger races. It’s a great place, though, to set a PR due to its largely flat topography.

Mike and I had discussed the possibility of my pacing him to the finish from the 20 mile mark if he thought he was close to BQ’ing. As he approached Mrs. Nitmos and I at the 20 mile mark, he looked winded but still moving pretty well. Upon seeing us, he stopped for the first time in the race and indicated he didn’t have a BQ in him today. After a swig of my Gatorade (I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had been putting out my cigarettes in it all morning*), he walked off down the road. I stood there watching him walk away in a bit of a quandary. Sure, the BQ was out….but not a PR or a strong finish. He kept on walking. He was nearing a ¼ mile away and still walking so I took off to catch up (leaving Mrs. Nitmos alone to drive back to the finish. I’m sure this made her already big smile grow that much wider! They call spouse’s like her Runner’s Widows, right?)

Mike was game to keep running but clearly he was struggling. We pressed on. He shed his Garmin and pacing bands. He didn’t want to think about anything. I’ll leave the details of his race to his own report. Suffice it to say, I answered my own personal question: would you carry your friends twenty mile race soaked running shirt if he wanted you to? Sadly, the answer was Yes. Yes, I would (and did). Check out his recap when he ever gets around to posting it. And please beg him to include the exciting climatic finish in his recap.

At the finish, I veered left instead of right into the final lap on the high school track. It just didn’t seem fair to accept a race medal for not actually running the race…or paying the entry fee. I debated it but think I made the right choice. Besides, if I wanted one later, I could always beat up one of the more gaunt looking exhausted runner’s in the finishers area and take their medal. What are they going to do about it all depleted in electrolytes and rubber legged? It’b be cartoonish watching them defend themselves. I’d probably do the one arm on their forehead thing while they swung away with weak empty blows towards my midsection as I cackled away gleefully.

A few thoughts struck me though as I ran bandit style in the most painful miles of the marathon. First, selfishly, I have to say it felt great to hit mile markers 21, 22, etc feeling like a million bucks. If only I could feel that way in an actual race after actually running 20 miles before hand. Everyone else was moaning and shuffling down the road. What’s their problem?

Second, seriously, there is a real quiet dignity in moving amongst a group of runners determined to fight the pain and mental breakdown to find their finish line. You don’t notice it when you are a marathoner in that group as – at that point – you are so inward focused you can barely recognize anything going on around you. The looks on the folks faces are truly inspiring. Pure determination, concentration and drive.

Third, I was struck with how everyone has their own story at each race. Each has goals and dreams. While Mike was expressing dissatisfaction that he didn’t run the race he had hoped, I could hear others simultaneously thrilled that their race was going so well. Another reminder that each runner carries with them a story that unfolds in 26 chapters.

Alas, I didn’t get to see Steer B.R. or Lisa finish which was disappointing. As they were all coming over to my folks place for post-race food, I needed to take off immediately after running into the finish and head out to pick up some food supplies. It somehow didn’t seem right to feed them all stale Corn Pops.

It was interesting to see the reactions of the 3 Steers later that day. With marathon cherry popped, Steer B.R. seemed thrilled (and experiencing the normal “I’m never running one of those again” first marathon emotions. Give it a few weeks…then start getting ready for Detroit in the fall!!) Steer Mike had mixed emotions. He had his most painful marathon experience. Steer Lisa seemed a bit disappointed but, considering the training level, an expected outcome. I'm proud of them all as each did the best they could on that day.

The marathon brings out the emotions like no other race.

Just ask Mrs. Nitmos.

* I don't smoke.

Congratulation to NWGDC for his vomit soaked BQ!!!

By the way, I opted for the "PC" sign saying "Run Like A Kenyan" which garnered a few chuckles from the runners. The most common response? "Yeah, I wish".

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Dirty S.O.B's Have Ruined My Running Route

So, I laced ‘em up and hit my regular suburbia running route the other night. Take a left out of my neighborhood and down the sidewalk, over the dirt path created when the new ‘hood being built ripped up my sidewalk several months ago. Only, now they had the sidewalk completely blocked off with tractors and other large, menacing, smoke-belching machinery.

My four and a half mile run turned into an impromptu steeplechase.

Here I was hurdling the ditch to get to the road. Here I was sticking my shoes into a patch of mud. Here I was mother-humperdinking like a mother-humperdinker.

Then, here I was avoiding the rush hour traffic on the road so as not to join the dead raccoon carcass festering on the median beneath a swarm of flies.

If I wasn’t so worried about the Chevy Suburban hurtling towards me, I would have raised a fist and shouted something clever with the proper degree of righteous indignation at the shovel wielding Run Ruiners. Instead, I pushed on intent to put the sidewalk chaos behind me. Until I stepped in a puddle of water. Apparently, I didn’t clear the last hurdle.

The next couple of miles were uneventful. Flat concrete. A couple of Garmin stopping, nuisance intersections. Several inhaled bugs. A brief contemplation on the transcendentalist movement during the 2nd Great Awakening. And a quick 360 scan for the All Clear to Fart signal (Note: This sometimes unintentionally becomes the All Clear to Shard signal. Again, unintentionally.)

There is no way to avoid the monster Tonka trucks on the way back unless I wanted to turn my short run into a medium run, which I had no time to do. So, back into the steeplechase, though this time with better mental preparation. I decided to fore go the clever pointed comment I had for the several large men busy providing a place for their shovels to lean . They were within shovel whacking distance.

Back out onto the road, navigating the water puddle. Around the orange pylons. Here comes the ditch. It’s several feet wide but, by this time, I have visions of my inner gazelle springing across the divide and landing in full majestic stride. I’m going to show them. My friend’s say the animal I most resemble is a horse’s ass but, no, no, it’s definitely a gazelle. Now’s my chance to prove it.

Right foot planted; left foot swings ahead. Leap. High into the air. What a great start! Maybe I am a gazelle. This is going great. Wait. No. No, it’s not. I’m coming up short.

My left leg jams into the ditch a foot short of the western summit. My head and shoulders snap forward. That hurt. My vision of bounding away gracefully down the sidewalk is destroyed. It’s replaced by the reality of a barbed wire tangled, wounded gazelle scrambling out of the ditch and staggering on amidst, one can only imagine, the shared smirks of the Run Ruiners. But I’m none the worse for wear and still have a hard ¾ mile pick-up run to go through my neighborhood.

Once complete, I limp to the door of my house and cross the threshold tugging violently backwards. My pride, dragging behind me, is caught in the screen door. Gathering it like a flaccid (+2) parachute, I slunk into the house. My eyes aren’t focusing. My neck hurts. Something is not right.

After some cool down, it’s clear that the left side of my neck has pulled or torn a muscle. It’s stinging. I’m doing an unwanted Quasimodo impersonation. I’m thinking a small monkey has climbed onto my back and is stabbing me just to the left of my spine. A quick check in the mirror reveals no monkey. Though I do need to wash better. (Is that a piece of hot dog back there?)

The last few days, my invisible monkey has continued to stab away. Heat pads, ice, and pathetic pleas for Mrs. Nitmos sponsored back rubs won’t take the tormenting monkey away.

My running route is (temporarily) destroyed.

In the meantime, I need to find a way to get this monkey off my back.

Have a safe, fun Memorial Weekend!

Update: My knee is now swollen. Those dirty S.O.B's.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Disjointed, Incoherent Ramblings

We’ll file this under A Loose Collection of Updates to Fill Space and Allow Me to Actually Complete Work for My Employer. Unless some of you are going to start ponying up some cash, I’ll have to use work time for…work. My kids need their weekly meal.

Random Thought #1

I’m loving this No Marathon Schedule thing. Lace ‘em up, hit the road. Why not bust arse a bit and quicken the pace? I can. I don’t even need a reason. My next race may be a 5k in early July. Plenty of time to play around with some different kinds of speed work. As McDonald’s would say, I’m lovin’ it. If I had sensitive nipples, they would be protruding through my shirt. That’s how excited I am. Instead, years of running and chafing have de-sensitized and worn the little fellows away to pathetic nubs.

Random Thought #2

I really wanted to put a detailed post out there analyzing the differences between landlords Mr. Roper and Mr. Furley from Three’s Company. It’s a topic that fairly begs for psycho analysis. Though I am a bit psycho and in need of some analysis, this is way over my head. Despite their homophobic similarity, Roper and Furley had distinct personalities. One is an ascot wearing, leisure suit sporting, self professed ladies man whose butt could turn coal to diamonds (ed. note: meaning he’s uptight not that he has a tight butt). The other a frugal, flirt uninterested in his own wife who, upon making a zinger at his spouse, would smile at the camera in some sort of Creepy Old Man grin. I’ve always been a fan of Roper, the cardigan wearing anti-Mr. Rogers, over Furley. To this day, I still smirk at a fake camera staged somewhere in my house whenever I rip off a particularly good zinger to Mrs. Nitmos. I’d love to see this broken down further if any of you have endless of amounts of time laying around. If you have a psychology degree, you are probably unemployed anyhow and need something to do.

Random Thought #3

Run Less, Run Faster, the book detailing the FIRST method which – you may recall – was shamefully stolen from my own training experiences prior to getting around to writing it myself. It would have been great, too. Trust me. So, we’ll live with Furman’s research and dream of what could have been. There are hundreds of reviews out there so I won’t bore you with another one except to place my stamp of approval on it. For folks who don’t have lots of free time to spend training, this plan is going to give you the most bang (speed) for your buck (time).

Random Thought #4

Currently on page 965 of 1090 of Don Quixote. The longest read in history is close to ending. Great rejoicing throughout the lands! As was suggested, I may, in fact, allow you to vote on my next read. However, I will be selecting the candidates lest you nominate Ulysses (Joyce) or War and Peace (Tolstoy) or Wasteland (Elliot) or some other heavy-symbolism, overly descriptive tomb that’ll cause me another several months of reading drudgery where I consider ending it all in a hari kari styled ritual suicide with my lifeblood leaking out onto the open pages of the unfinished book. Metaphorically speaking, of course (and, apparently, run on sentence-ly speaking also.)

Random Thought #5

The Nielsen ratings book has been returned. All of you should prepare to watch plenty of Detroit sports teams in action along with The Office, The Family Guy, and lots of HGTV (thanks to Mrs. Nitmos) as well as any other silly, mind-numbingly stupid show with no redeeming qualities (thanks to me, again!) on TV. You will be thrilled with my selections for the rest of you. You’re welcome.

Big race weekend for many coming up. Good luck!

"Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic mirror, tell me today. Have all my friends had fun at play?"

I see Mike. (Going for a PR and possibly a BQ!)
I see L*I*S*A. (Going for the finish line!)
I see NWGDC. (Going for a BQ!)
I see the Ottawa Marathoners.
I see Vanilla. (Vanilla is at the end because this is descending by distance. No other reason.)

Good luck to ALL runners this weekend. Even the ones I missed in the list above. And especially the ones not named after a flavor.

I’ll be at the Bayshore Marathon cheering on the Steers LDP crew. I’ll be around mile 7 (and 19 on the return trip) with my sign saying:

“Pheidippides Only Went 24 miles. Just Sayin’”.

Think about it.

Happy trails.

I haven't decided in what format to respond to Vanilla's broadside attack on the good ship F.M.S. I will be consulting with Darth Beardsley on the proper retort. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Setting Race Goals: A Primer

We’ve all seen the obligatory post wherein the subsequent racer proclaims their Official Race Goals a few days or weeks before race day. I’ve even posted them here. Mine are usually hilarious, edifying and inspirational. Yours are a dull statement of intention. Not making a judgment here. We all can’t help being who we are.

Now if - after the insult - you are still here, shame on you. Have some self respect. Immediately storm out of here with a haughty click and return in a few seconds with your dignity dragging behind you like a shadow created from the rising sun. We’ll both feel better about it (although beware that there is still one more insult to go).

I always struggle with how to set my race goals. Do I go ambitious and set PR goals? Do I go wimpy and be happy “just to be out there on a beautiful day” and, maybe, balance my checkbook along the way? Do the words intent to do great bodily harm appear at any point?

Usually, like many, I lay out my goals according to the Proverbs of the Running Gods as dictated to Dick Beardsley on the slopes of Heartbreak Hill : A stretch goal, a realistic goal, and a hey-I’m-just happy-to-be-alive goal. Others, however…well, I don’t know what the hell you are doing (this isn’t the promised insult). I’ve noticed some weird race goals out there and they typically fall into one of these completely made up but sidesplittingly funny categories.

1. The Pie-Eyed Optimist

This person sets extremely ambitious but unattainable goals. Something along the lines of: I’ve never run more than a 10 mile long run but I believe I can finish the Western States Endurance 100. My cousin’s employer’s high school girlfriend’s nephew said he did it on very little training so I think I can too. Once I stop running in wrestling shoes, I’m really gonna fly! You might also find these folks elbowing their way to the front of the local 5k starting pack, only to pull off a ¼ mile into the race with a pride cramp.

2. The Fight or Flighters

These folks set out a two pronged goal. The very reasonable stretch race goal matching their overall ability. Followed by the caveat that if something goes wrong, they are quitting and going home. This goal may read: I hope to finish the 10k in 50 minutes, which would be a new PR! But if the wind is blowing from the southeast, I’m just going to walk home and try again another day.

3. The Bipolar Runner

It’s hard to get a read on these folks. They sound reasonable. Taken individually, the goals seem very realistic. When viewing the overall picture though, something ain’t right. My stretch goal for the half marathon is 1:40. But if it’s just not my day, I’d be happy with a 2:32. What’s with the huge variance? That’s greater than the difference between Paris Hilton’s popularity and actual talent. That’s not hot.

4. Mr. Pragmatic

I’m guilty of this one. (This is not referencing prag again, thank you very much). This person sets a goal exactly matching their last training runs. Well, I ran 3.1 miles yesterday in 21:00 minutes so my goal for this 5k is…21 minutes. I think I can do that. Really? Way to put yourself out there, big fella! This is all very modest and smart but where’s the spice? Aren’t you going to Go For It on race day all carbo loaded and wired with endorphins? Bo-ring.

5. I Like Shiny Things

I can not relate. I was born with an ingrained competitive spirit. Secretly, I admire these folks. They have no goal. They just enjoy the event. There’s no teasing here. I think that’s great. I just get real confused trying to process No Goal as a race goal. I look at these folks with these race goals like a dog who is being explained quantum physics - all head-tilted and not understanding (with one cute little floppy ear. At least, that’s how I picture myself if I were a dog.)

When approaching a race, you generally have an idea if you are in PR shape or not. For me, I flex for awhile in front of the mirror. If my normally toned triceps, biceps, and quads look EXTRA toned, well, let’s go ahead and set an ambitious goal. I might double check my Concavator for PR indicating cheek hollowing as well. If my hair, er, training was a little off, it might be an indication to pull back a bit on the goals.

However, either way, you need to account for the Race Day adrenaline release that’ll put a little hop in your step. I subtract a bit of time anticipating this. There’s no way you are going to only run at your training pace – even a hard training pace – on race day. You will be faster. Unless, of course, you Like Shiny Things and are curiously devoid of a competitive spirit.

Since most of you lack top end mathematical skills (there, there it is, the expected insult but it’s too late to leave now. You’re almost done. You and your humiliation can stick around for a bit longer and finish up), I’ll go ahead and spell this out. This is straight from F.M.S. research labs:

Race Goal = (What you think you will be able to do on race day) * .975

So, for a 5k, you think you can run it in 20 minutes.

Race Goal = (20 minutes) * .975 which equals 19:30 minutes.

You may use this from now one and immediately throw out the antiquated McMillan’s running calculator. Mine is clearly better. More science-y.

Happy trails.

An adjustment is needed to my official Summer of Speed goals as my weekend long runs are indicating the 10 mile goal of 1:10:00 is already in jeopardy. I hereby adjust the 10 mile goal to 1:06:00.


8.0 miles
54:13 time
6:47 pace

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Dirty Laundry

So I’m sitting here racking my brain trying to come up with a post topic. I figured I could pretty much throw anything out there and you all would eagerly lap it up. Maybe the 4,000 post ranting on gas prices? The unusual egg laying practices of the Flatback Turtle? Whatever. I’ll belch and see what lands on the screen. Enjoy.

However, I thought maybe I’d go a bit more provocative today. Dirty laundry. We all have it. We don’t want to talk about it but it’s there ready to spill out of the closet like a thousand stinky skeletons.

I’m not talking figuratively here. Literally, my laundry is very dirty and stinky…and in my closet. Some of my favorite running clothes have been saturated in sweat to such a degree that even repeated washings in between wearing has NOT completely eliminated the odor. My favorite short sleeve North Face running shirt (shown here) smells so bad I need to quarantine it in a separate part of the closet so it doesn’t aromatically infect everything else. Hell, no, I won’t get rid of it. It’s comfy. And it’s gonna get stinky anyway as soon as I take it out for a spin. It doesn’t need to be perfectly clean. That’d be like showering before a morning training run. What’s the point?

I am a bit concerned that I’m oozing some sort of abnormal malignant fluid from my pores. Normally, sweat washes out of clothing right? I’ve tried googling “sweat stank”, “unwashable odors on running clothes”, and “unexplained shirt smells” to no avail. It seems I must be the only one with this issue. Though you don’t want to know what I found with the “unexplained shirt smells” search.

And it doesn’t happen to all of my clothes. Just this one. My Superman Underoos smell Downey fresh. My jock…well, I assume it’s clean. No need to push the envelope on this one. So, what happened to my favorite running shirt?

Could it be that I left it stewing away in its own “juices” for several hours (re: days) after a particularly perspirational (+5 for word invention) effort? Perhaps my shirt fibers and sweat bonded and formed a sort of evil super shirt Able to Offend All Wearers.

I blame Mrs. Nitmos. How could she let my moist, disgusting running clothes just sit in the dirty clothes basket while I enjoyed a nice, hot post run shower? Sheesh. I have to dirty the clothes AND clean them too? Seems a bit one-sided.

I’ve even tried the free sample size sport washes they give you at the race expos specifically created to wash stinky, sweaty clothes. They haven’t worked. No matter. I’m not going back to the local haberdasher (+3). I’ll be out rocking my North Face short sleeve running shirt this weekend. Unless you are running downwind, you won’t even know the difference.

Now, I need to get a paper towel. I really belched that one out. My monitor needs a little cleaning of its own. Got a little chin spittle to mop up also.

Happy trails.

Let it be known that my Word Snob Score will be immediately suspended once I obtain 100 points. I’ve clearly exhausted my limited supply of point-worthy words. I’ve noticed some commentator scoring as well and requests to subtract points. Banish the thought! I don’t want to start a kerfuffle (+4) here but many of you forget the most basic rule: I am always correct. You are wrong. Though you may think you can prove me wrong through some sort of “English grammar rule”, I can trump your rule with a little known Latinish rule you’ll never find in a text book. Don’t test me. If I say “Fungus, are Races’ by the by? Sacks of; clowns!” This is a correct sentence under a little known grammatical rule of which only I’m aware.

Check out:

-Kristina’s diarrhea…err, thoughts on runner’s diarrhea.

-Nancy’s 10k on the 10th results. I point this out as I’m Fred’s Favorite. Ignore Running Laminator and Reid. They clearly cheated.

Please vote to make sure Vanilla Slips n’ Slides. He deserves to be all wet.

Also congratulate Topher as he signed up for his first marathon and will attempt to answer the age old question, "Can man run a marathon fueled by donuts?"

Have a great weekend! I ‘ll be busy practicing my didgeridoo (+2).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Desperately Seeking Susan

In this case “Susan” is “spectator cheering advice” but I thought Desperately Seeking Spectator Cheering Advice came across as a bit of a clunky title. So, I opted for the shorter title followed by the longer, never-ending post title explanation. Good choice?

Plus, I wanted to get a reference to 80’s era Madonna into a post. Not 21st century muscle toned, mother of two (or three?) Madonna but the slightly pudgy, perm haired, lace skirt over jogging pants Maddie from 20 odd years ago. God bless her. Keep on rocking out those skin tights!

Over Memorial Weekend, I’ll be attending my first marathon purely as a spectator. Frankly, I’m pretty excited about it. Fellow Steers LDP members Mike and Lisa (and non-blogger Steer B.R.) will be hitting the pavement at the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Michigan. This is the race I BQ’ed at last spring. It’s a beautiful, mostly flat down and back course along the Grand Traverse peninsula – if the weather is right, which it was last year. Otherwise, it’s a hellacious, soul-ripping wind tunnel with sideways driving rain pelting you into submission on a lonely, amaranthine (+10) road. (You’re welcome guys!) Here’s to the former! Cuz if it’s the latter, you won’t see my butt out there cheering you on.

Having never spectated a marathon before, I’m seeking your input on the best ways to cheer on the runners. What works best? I know what works for me when I’m racing. However, I refuse to go topless. Or wear pasties. So, I’ll need to come up with something else.

Some ideas:

- Cold beer. Not for the runners. Screw them. I could use a few and I suspect they’d enjoy seeing someone drinking beer while they’re running.
- Slather a piece of board with Vaseline for the runners to rub on their chafed nipples. Stationed right before the event photographer. Oh, and its not really Vaseline but Icy Hot with sprinkled Tabasco instead.
- Constantly shout out “Way to go, Sisyphus!” What? Too obscure?
- Set up a water and banana table but place a clear glass box over it. Laugh hysterically as they crush knuckles frantically trying to get to the refreshments.
- Remind them they have a long, long, long way to go and the really hard part is still to come…no matter where I’m at on the course.
- Trick runners into giving me their mp3’s or iPods by placing a box out and announcing ‘last chance to turn in your mp3’s or face disqualification’. Pawn them at local store before race finishes.

I don’t know. Maybe these aren’t good ideas. In fact, as I reread the list, it seems like they are more like self serving ideas for my amusement.

On to signage. I’ve seen some good ones while running. Real motivating and inspiring messages to all or specific runners. You didn’t think I’d come up with any of those, did you?

- “Your Shorts Make You Look Fat.”
- “The Kenyans Are Already Done. You Lost.”
- “Run Like The Police Are Chasing You.”
- For this one, I need to convince Mrs. Nitmos to stand next to me with a sack tied around her head and her arms/legs bound while I hold a sign saying “I Have Your Grandma. Set a PR or You’ll Never See Her Again.”
- “You Look Very, Very Tired. Give Up.”
- “The Pain WON’T Go Away At The Finish.”
- “Maybe This Sport’s Not For You.”
- “They Are Selling the Finishers Medal at 7-11 for $5. I Already Have One.”
- “There’s Still A Chance You Won’t Finish.”

For you F.M.S regulars, you’ll appreciate this:

- “I Could Read Don Quixote Quicker Than You Run This Race.”

I’ll be out there somewhere on the course with some kind of sign and, possibly, provisions. If you have better ideas than those above, let me hear ‘em. Otherwise, I may just go with my own.

I may run a portion of the last 6 miles or so in with Mike based on hearing “the word” from him. I’m happy to do so. I’m also happy to tackle other runners if they get in his way. This may require more than “the word” though…maybe something more along the lines of “bail money”. Mike is looking to set a PR of his own. I think he will.

Happy trails.

To all you folks jeering on my reading ability, I am in fact finally close to finishing Don Quixote. It's a grind. The book has made me easily distracted. Look there's a piece of dust floating in the air....oh, wait, what page was I on? I may leave the book showing to the right though after I've finished it just out of spite.

I also finished reading about the FIRST method and Run Less, Run Faster last night. I haven't decided yet if I'll bless you with a book review which, no doubt, would be the absolute bee's knee's! (Please help me in bringing back this old adage. Look how fun it was to read it!)

Monday, May 12, 2008

10k on the 10th

Sunny. Breezy. 55 degrees. Perfect race weather.

I headed out the door with the trusty mp3 player and Garmin for one loop around my kids’ elementary school, both of the community middle schools, into town and back home. Total distance would actually be 6 1/3 mile but I’d shut down Garmin at 10k distance of 6.22 miles.

The plan was…actually I had no plan. I really was just going to enjoy a morning run and let the time come in wherever it came in at. I figured, as far as you knew, I ran 5 minute miles.

A couple of miles in, honesty took hold (re: competitive spirit) and I picked up the pace. Like last Thursday night’s run, I treated the final 3 miles as 800 repeats with an 800 not-so-relaxed pace in between.

I did have some issues with Nancy’s aid stations. At the first one (1.5 mile mark), I reached out for the station workers cup and discovered it was hot coffee (and his GU packet was really a danish). Weird. And the profane shouts were hardly encouraging. (Note: Calling me “Jackass” never makes me run faster.) At the second (3.0 mile mark), my first thoughts were ‘okay, never received hydration through a baby bottle before.’ And never had an aid worker calling himself the “father” come up behind me and rain blows down on my head. However, this did, in fact, make me run faster.

The numbers:

6.22 miles
42:08 time
6:46 pace

Mile breakdown: 7:05, 7:00, 7:02, (turn on competitive juices here…outrun aid station worker named “father”) 6:34, 6:36, 6:30.

Again, no macings. No dog bites. Another successful run! I have never done a 10k before so this will now be my baseline for work at this distance (I should have gone slower so I could pretend that I am making huge improvements in the future.)

Plus, I did get an unexpected award! I have a cute little baby bottle with little teddy bears on it sitting on my shelf.

Afterwards, my ego was deflated as only your own children can do. My 6 year old daughter wanted to go for a run with me. I needed a cool down anyhow so, what the heck. So, we’re running along and I’m giving her a few tips on form, etc. I made a critical error though. I said, “Here, watch me. You should run like this.” To which, she replied “oh, okay” and proceeded to flail her arms and legs around like she was going in to some sort of epileptic fit. Jerk. She found that really funny. I found it really funny when I took her favorite My Little Pony away for the rest of the day.

Not sure from where she gets her sarcasm.

Gaunt, Revisited

I should have known. Runners are too uplifting. Too friendly. Too encouraging. Too decent. Basically, too not me.

In my last
post, I implanted a purposeful little shoe pebble hoping to burrow into your sole and spark some outrage and a few indignant comments. After all, who cares what a runner looks like? Who cares what anybody looks like (except that monster looking thing from The Goonies. That was, in fact, pretty weird looking)? Leave it to all of you to take the high road. I can’t drag any of you down into the mud?

Rest assured, this won’t be the last attempt. I will provoke some outrage at some point. Another shoe pebble will roll your way in the future. This time, step on it, get angry, and let loose.

Stop being so damn encouraging.

And when I make a crack about drinkable Crisco, I expect indignation…not an inquiry for directions to the store.

Happy trails.

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!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I Control Your TV

In its infinite wisdom, the Nielsen company has given me the power to decide what YOU watch on TV. I was hand selected from a pool of millions of TV viewers no doubt based on my discerning eye and robust intellect. They contacted me two weeks ago and the packet that I am to use for talent evaluation arrived in the mail yesterday.

Now I don’t know what went in to my nomination for this prestigious honor. I have long been known to dispense unsolicited, poorly informed advice. Perhaps word got back to them securing my election?

In any case, starting tomorrow May 8th, I’ll be recording every single show I watch on TV in a little paper journal. I’ll be doing this for a week. After which, the journal will be returned to Nielsen. Lives will be changed. Shows will be canceled. Others will be rewarded with bigger ad budgets. Advertising rates will be impacted. In short, my little scribbled notes will directly effect what you watch on TV. I have the power. I intend to use it.

Now, far be it for me to use this power for my own selfish benefit. I am nothing if not incredibly, incredibly humble. And good looking. However, if you really want to see YOUR favorite show score big in the ratings, I can make it happen. As a reminder, nothing in life is free. And I could really use a new bike…

So, what do I record in my journal? Of course, I’m not going to record what I actually watch. That would be embarrassing and contribute to the general dumbing down of American TV. Who needs more shows about mud wrestling midget love triangles? (Jerr-ee! Jerr-ee! Jerr-ee!)

Instead, I’ll need to shape these responses to match what I want TV to actually BE. I know, I know, this is directly contradictory to the rules included with the packet. But, hey, you got to give me more than $5 if you want rule compliance.* That’s how I roll.**

Being this is a running blog, I should note that I’m amazed there is no weekly TV show devoted to tracking the top runners and following them through their daily lives, rigorous training, nutrition, and competition. There are several hundred channels devoted to all sorts of garbage. Innumerable sports channels with weekly shows devoted to distinct types of fishing. You’re telling me there’s no room for a show following a group of hard training runners like Brooks Hansons or Team USA Minnesota chasing Olympic dreams?? I would love to see (and record in my little journal) a weekly show following the lives of elite runners – maybe interspersed periodically with tales of the Average Joe runner – as they prepare for world class events.

Maybe there is. In which case, I’m just amazingly ill informed. Inform me.

I am The Decider this week. (It’s cool, if you are in charge, to call yourself “the decider” right? Nothing arrogant about it? Just checking.)

My non-Nielsen tagged coworkers (I call them Nonniellies) claim I’m one of hundreds of people tapped for this task and that I shouldn’t be so self righteous about it. Or spit in the coffee. Nonsense! When Einstein invented the light bulb, did GE ask others to check his work? When Ghandi went on a hunger strike, did the British government go over his diet plan? Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Nein, sie tat es nicht.

I’m not going to tell you what I report back to Nielsen. Let’s just say that if you suddenly find yourself watching lots of The Family Guy and other sophomoric - possibly even freshmanic - entertainment as well as Detroit sports teams, well, you had your chance. You Nonniellies have to pay to play.

Happy trails.

* They gave me 5 wallet fattening SINGLES. Not even a singular fiver! The disrespect! Like I’m going to walk around with 5 bills in my back pocket and then sit all lopsided at my desk just to accommodate them.

** If I were circular. I’m not.

Two wonderful three-mile-shake-the-rust-off runs in the last few days. I can’t wait to turn up the mileage this weekend! This having no schedule thing is really liberating. I feel as free as a bird…that runs instead of flies and has a general feeling of liberation.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mission 5k: F.M.S Official Policy Statement

Speed. Speed. Speed.

That’s what I’m looking for this summer. The next couple of months will be devoted to getting this body to move just a little quicker. In other words, I’ll be fartleking all over the place. Fartleking here. Fartleking there. Fartleking anywhere. If you’re not careful, I might just be fartleking in your hometown. And if you think I’m done saying fartlek, you’re wrong. We still have 3 more to go.

I’ll also be Repeating like a howitzer (thanks Carla! Cheers, circa 1990).

Now that the 3 humped marathon hurdle that started last October and ended in Boston has been crossed, I’m ready to cut loose and work on some long neglected PR’s in 5k’s, 10k’s (this won’t be hard- I’ve never run one), 15k’s, and 10 milers. Consider this an official Feet Meet Street Summer Policy Directive.

Basically, I hope to bring out my inner Carl Lewis. Except, quite a bit farther than 100m. But not nearly as fast. And I’m not going to shave my head to a flat top.

As I bid my family adieu and embark on this self serving Summer of Speed, I can’t help but be a bit pre-nostalgic for all the kids’ baseball games I’ll miss. The kite flying I won’t do again this year. The lawn Mrs. Nitmos will need to cut (and seed, please.) Again this year, I was planning to avoid going to the local park to play Frisbee. I had a million excuses already loaded up on why I couldn’t teach my daughter to ride a bike. In short, there was a world of things I wasn’t going to do this summer that, now, I won’t be able to do again this year.

I’ll be at the track or on the road fartleking, repeating, fartleking, repeating and fartleking yet again (and repeating again also). * When I’m not at the track, I’ll be studying speed in which ever form it exists including - but not limited to - drag racing on ESPN, standard lion tackling antelope footage on Animal Planet, and neighborhood teenager driving rusty old Pontiac Sunbird by my house.

I’ve surfed the running blogs. I’ve read the running magazines. I’ve developed a detailed list of who to blame if my planned speed explosion doesn’t pan out. I think I’m ready.

With scapegoat(s) firmly in place, I press on to become a quicker, leaner Nitmos. I am determined to become as fast as possible and decorate my shelves with age group awards I acquire from poorly attended, unpopular races. Over the course of the summer, the awards will soon replace the love of my children. In fact, they’ll become my children. The first two I win, I’ll name exactly the same as my current two trophies, er, kids.

If you have any speed improving tips, please don’t be shy. Share away. This will both assist me in my pursuit AND provide me an additional scapegoat.

5k Goal: Sub 19:00
10k Goal: Actually run one. Oh, and break 41:00
15k Goal: Probably won’t get to one of these this year so whose foolin’ who?
10 Mile: Sub 1:10:00

I feel bad that I won’t be around much this summer. My family will miss out on my unerring conditional love. Pickle jars will go left unopened. Pictures won’t be hung. The TV remote will go less fondled. On the positive side, they’ll be free to pursue other hobbies other than stroking my easily bruised ego. It’s a win-win. Plus, I’ve been around for every summer of my son (age 10) and daughter’s (age 6) life so far. So I miss one? By my math, that’s still 9/10 summers, or 90%, for my son. A solid “A-“. And 5/6, or 83%, for my daughter. A low “B”. Quality grades.

And, for me, there’ll be that many less occasions where I have to say “please leave daddy alone in the dark with his bottle.”

Ah, yes, the summer of speed. I look forward to ye.

* Note: This in no way is referencing a bowel movement despite the way it reads.


While I’m away, Mrs. Nitmos will need time to pursue her hobby (re: gambling addiction). So, I’ve explained to the kids how to use the internet and that they should believe and do everything they see on it. For the next several months, please keep your blog posts helpful and edifying. And if someone in your comments section keeps typing in “9-1-1” or “help us” or "feed us" over and over again, please explain to “pick up the phone and call grandma” in your next post when you get around to it. Thanks!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Is That A PowerBar in Your Pocket or Are You Happy To See Me?

With all the provisions we take into a marathon, you’d think we’re preparing to head into the mountains for a six week journey of self realization. I spend at least 1 hour planning out my 3-4 hours on the marathon course the night before. And then several times in the weeks preceding, I have double checked my mental checklist of things to bring.

I lay out the gear the night before. God forbid I have one less GU packet than I thought I did. Panic! Without it, I may fade quicker than Ashlee Simpson’s music career. I pack my gear in my two side holster pockets (thanks Brooks Sherpa short!) and head out the door for the race. My pants are bulging. Well, they always are but particularly on race day. (bada dum dum!)

My inventory:

- PowerBar (consumed pre-race)
- 5 packets of GU (typically vanilla flavored. Not Vanilla flavored, mind you. Get your head out of the gutter)
- 2 Tylenol
- Electrolyte sport beans
- Garmin on the left arm
- Timex on the right arm as Garmin inevitably loses its signal
- One wrist sweatband
- Current issue of People

By the end of the race, I normally have some of the GU left over (1-2 packets). And usually the sport beans go uneaten. I almost never look at my copy of People. And from what aid station worker did I steal that watch cuz now I have three?

I see other runners with these utility belts loaded with water, Gatorade, and sports gel. This is probably a good idea but it seems so heavy and burdensome. I don’t want to wear something called a “belt” while running. Plus, I’m willing to gamble that the aid stations have water. If they don’t (see Chicago ’07), the race directors should be held up for public ridicule (see Chicago ’07) and floggings (see Grand Inquisition). I don’t know exactly what a “rack” is but it should be used on ‘em too. *

In a silly way, I look forward to each milestone where I get to extract one of my provisions and consume it. Somehow, I feel lighter. I’m carrying less. Of course, it’s just internal rather than external now but I feel 1/100th of a second faster per mile. Less wind resistance.

A few weeks back, I compared a marathon to the stages of a relationship. Maybe instead I should have compared it to a 5 course meal starting with the appetizer miles and ending, finally, with the dessert. In between, a whole bunch of grisly cube steak. And the ketchup ran out at mile 18. By mile 18, everything tastes like crap anyhow.

The only non-perishable item other than clothing I carry is a photo of my family I glue directly over my heart. This way, they are always close to me…That would be really sweet but I don’t do this. You don’t get this far in life being described as “belligerent” and “ego maniacal” and “not responding to therapy” to go and do something like that.

So what do YOU carry with you on the marathons (or half marathons or ultra marathons)? What works? What doesn’t but you carry it out of pure superstition anyway? Any good luck charms?

Happy trails.

* Incidentally, why is it so bad to be “drawn and quartered”? I love a nice caricature of myself and, if you want to put me up for the night, fine also. Big deal.

Responding to recent comments:

In case I wasn’t clear, my new marathon race plan involves only two speeds: (1) Run and (2) Lying on the ground unconscious. It’s clear this body doesn’t respond well to walking rest breaks. Fortunately, it only cost me 3 major marathons and thousands of dollars to figure it out.

My daughter’s tooth is not chipped from my Boston medal. She has a black eye. No, see, I kid, I kid.

Kerrigan Knee Whackers sell for $19.95 at your local Assault Weaponry store.

Hooray! Hooray! My self imposed exile from running ends Sunday. I'll be hitting the streets with a big dumb ole smile on my face. Two weeks is a LONG time.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lance Armstrong: Friend or Foe?

Normally, strong sub 3 hour marathoners who finish 496th at the Boston Marathon command my awe and respect. There is no debate. I can be downright sycophantic (can I award +3 for this Razz?) in fact. If they had speed yielding teets, I’d consider suckling them to become faster. I don’t know them other than a number next to their name in the newspaper. However, I can’t run that fast. They can. Fawning praise (with hints of jealousy) thrown their way.

But what do we make of this Lance Armstrong phenomenon?

You may have heard of him. He had a bit part in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. And he was also a cyclist of some note.

There is much debate around the Nitmos house on this topic. I tend to appreciate the man’s amazing physical talent and dedication in the world of cycling and subsequent transformation into an upper echelon marathoner. Mrs. Nitmos tends to focus on his personal relationship issues and sees more of a spotlight stealing glory hound.*

Leaving the personal stuff aside, the Great Lance Debate usually breaks one of two ways:

(1) He’s bringing much needed attention and excitement to the sport.
(2) He’s stealing the spotlight from the elite runners.

Mrs. Nitmos, standing on the corner of Hereford and Boylston, wasn’t pleased to see a ring of security and a camera truck directly around Mr. Armstrong as he made his way to the finish of the Boston Marathon. After the race, she reminded me that the only other folks who had a personal camera truck were the male and female leaders of the race. The other 493 people ahead of Lance (and 21,000+ behind) had no camera to record their moment of glory. Or, presumably, a posse of undercover ninjas with collapsible Kerrigan knee whackers shadowing their footsteps prepared to swat away overzealous fans.

I get that. Who doesn’t recognize the public’s general fascination with celebrity? It goes overboard. While one side of our face reads celebrity tabloids and can recite the details of Kate Hudson’s recent shopping spree (I can’t believe she spent that much on a sweatsuit after all!!), the other side is busy condemning the media and celebrities with an emphatic WHO CARES!? The third side might be eating ice cream. I’m three dimensional. The analogy works.

Plus, I’m pretty sure I also deserve a camera truck. My mom has always told me I’m special. Mrs. Nitmos has always said I’m a certain kind of special as well. You don’t obtain this level of averageness and sustain it for this many continuous years without a fair amount of ability. You should know that when I get raises at work, they usually meet – or even slightly exceed – the average cost of living increase. Par is a positive score in golf, right?

I don’t believe we’ve reached hyper obsession over Lance running marathons though. It’s mentioned. It’s on TV…newspapers…Runner’s World. Race highlights typically show the winner followed quickly by any celebrities in attendance. I guess I’m alright with that. Like it or not, running – while a popular hobby for many – is not really an exciting sport for those who don’t directly participate. It’s okay to show Lance puffing on in to the finish several hundred people behind the winner. It brings interest and excitement to the sport.

More people know when marathons are being run now. They stop to watch Lance run and, just maybe, catch a glimpse of the real elite runners. Call it: Awareness through Adjacency. If the media wants to dry hump Lance’s leg and circle him with cameras while Robert Cheruiyot quietly slips out the back door, so be it. I still believe more people are being exposed to the sport. More people are becoming interested. And more people may be inspired to participate.

This may not be how we would prefer it. But it’s better than nothing.

If I could quibble though, I would have preferred that Lance did not run through and break the tape during his finish. I’m pretty sure the other 495 people in front of him might have already broken the tape. I doubt all of them did the limbo under it.

By the way, if anyone knows someone with speed yielding teets, it sure would save me a lot of work.

* Plus, I think Mrs. Nitmos is just angry that the photo supply of Lance running with a shirtless Matthew McConaughey has dried up.