Thursday, July 31, 2008
Good thing I did as the $25 registration fee ended up winning me a $45 steak house gift check in a random drawing. Bonus! And, just so you know, we splurged and went for the expensive steaks (i.e. further from the cows ass than what we normally get.) They were delicious (the steaks, of course.)
I'll be heading out on the lake now for some boating and tubing. I'm sure you'll all appreciate a quick report. The Fruit from My Anus 5k report got pretty self indulgent.
So, here it is:
Mile 1: 5:41
Mile 2: 6:08
Mile 3: 6:12
.11 miles: 37 seconds
It'd be nice -just once - to follow my pre-race "negative splits" action plan. It was rabid cheetah out of the shoot once again.
Numbers? Yes, numbers:
3rd of 56 in my age group (i.e "second loser")
35th of 1188 overall
Chicked by 4 Ms. Ladies.
I netted a race coffee mug as a "prize". Hardly enough to satisfy my ego but it'll have to serve as my second SoS award and thus both of my children have now been replaced as planned!
Now back to my vacation, returning on Monday. I have labeled this my Fist Bump Vacation much to Mrs. Nitmos' chagrin. More on that later. Let's just say that, besides the exorbitant amounts of fist bumping I have been insisting on, I have executed my vacation plan to perfection. Eight hand selected virgins to massage by legs, arms, and temples. Two to toss a beach ball back and forth while I spray them with a garden hose. Yes, yes, it has all gone to plan.
Except the part where, upon ordering another post race 22 ounce beer, Mrs. Nitmos AGAIN challenge my deservedness (is this a word?). This time, I wasn't even the bridesmaid.
Happy trails...and Ill catch up with you all next week!
Friday, July 25, 2008
On several occasions, I’ve suspended my uninterrupted stream of cynicism to adopt the CAN DO attitude. What has it gotten me? How about a huge credit card bill, public humiliation, a scared, malnourished llama, and one macing. Each of these stories is hilarious and sad in their own right but I’m not going into them now. Depositions are still being taken in two of the incidents which precludes further explanation.
The point is that Positive Thinking, in a runners world, is a byproduct of training (seed), organization (soil) and dedication (water). It’s the flower that grows from the these ingredients. Not the other way around. That’s pure poppycock!
Positive Thinking won’t get you a PR when you show up on race day undertrained and covered in llama dung. Balderdash!
I believe in the power of Positive Pessimism. When preparing for a race – a 5k, 10 miler, marathon, any distance – I assume I need to do better than my training has gone so far. I assume the wind must be at my back during those training runs. I assume I don’t have nearly as much time to train as the calendar indicates. Basically, I live in fear that the street will implode just as I hit stride when I get to the race.
When I show up on race day however, I know that I did the requisite training. I stuck to my plan. I CAN push through when things get tough. I am able to wrestle an attacking llama to the ground. This sounds like Positive Thinking but its really a reminder that I’ve already fought these battles during my training. My fear of failure has blossomed into race day confidence.
But it wasn’t the Positive Thinking claptrap that accomplished this. When’s the last time you saw Tony Robbins win the Boston Marathon? Answer: Never. (And Game, Set, Match to Nitmos! Take that T.R.)
Positive Thinking sometimes leads to its unwanted uncle, Unfounded Optimism. And race day disappointment.
I think this Positive Thinking bunkum gets a little carried away sometimes. Try a little Positive Pessimism on for size. Not sure you trained enough for the race? Guess what? You’re probably right. Think you’re not pushing hard enough to get that desired PR? Right on. You’re not.
Think positively pessimistic.
Prepare for the worst race day weather and most difficult course imaginable. Assume the other runner’s are you-hating ninjas disguised in moisture wicking garments. Then, when the gun goes off and you find the conditions aren’t that bad, who gets the credit? (Besides me, of course – blushing.)
Positive thinking? That’s a bunch of hooey.
Pessimism. Positive Pessimism.
And, maybe, a small fear of llamas.
Here’s an interesting book I found online that seems to have pre-stolen, written, edited, and published my thoughts before I got around to posting. I smell another restraining order!
The esteemed Mizfit has asked me to answer some of her viewer mail running related questions over at her site. Check it out. Notice how I worked “fartlek” into a response. Awesome. And remember to leave comments complimenting my masculinity, intelligence, and llama-wrestling abilities. Here’s some starter words to work in to the comments: “rugged”, “Herculean”, “gazelle-like”, “Cary Grantish”, and “foxy”.
Just so we’re clear, here’s words NOT to work in: “bottom feeder”, “imbecile”, “jackhole” and “Andy Dickish”.
I'll be on vacation next week. Will I bother to post? Who knows? I haven't decided if what I'm feeling is apathy or contempt for all of you. If you get yourselves a post, you're welcome. Everyone behave now while I'm away.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The End of the Great Running Skirt Debate
By now, you’ve seen the article in Runner’s World and you’ve heard the rumblings across blogland about the running skirt that has been seen hanging from the midsection of (mostly) female runners. Unbeknownst to me, there was apparently some issue as to whether wearing a running “skirt” meant you were a serious runner looking for extra comfort and style OR a prissy little show pony trying to turn the sport into a fashion show.
Is it okay that I call an end to this “debate” now?
Look, the important thing is that the hemline is no more than 4 inches for women. Shorts. Skirt. Fig leaf. A Beef Jerky belt with a piece of paper towel folded over it. Whatever.
I’m a big fan of women wearing running skirts. Or running string bikinis. Or running fishnet stockings with running stilettos.* Sheesh, let’s move on already.
I don’t think I’m being sexist. I think I already mentioned my desire to wear my thong, thick gold chain, cowboy hat and spray on tan in a future race. I’m an equal opportunity offender. I feel the more everyone sees of me is probably best for everyone. Likewise, the more I see of the ladies is best for me. See? Equal!
And, on this, I know Mrs. Nitmos agrees (despite the fact that she describes my posterior as “concave”.)
That’s an end to the debate. Here’s an emphatic, brightly colored period to prove it. .!
More Things That Annoy Me
You may have noticed an upswing lately in bugs getting stuck in my crawl. Usually, it’s people who annoy me. Lately, it’s been animals, plants, or things. Inanimate objects have really been pissing me off lately….sittin’ there being all inanimatey with that smarmy look. I don’t like to equivocate here at F.M.S. so I take sides on irrelevant issues. Let’s review. Here’s a list of 7 people, places or things topping my Annoy-o-meter these days:
1) Dolphins vs. Whales? I picked whales a long time ago and have been enjoying tuna ever since.
2) Oak vs. Elm? If you saw my last post, you know I’m an Elmhead. As NWGDC pointed out, the ash bore is just a temporary set back. Elm will prevail in the end.
3) The Constitution vs. The Declaration of Independence? Give me the D.o.I. baby. Holla!
4) Peter, Paul or Mary? They count as inanimate. Paul rocks out a sweet beard. How can you deny it?
5) Sofa vs. Couch? Sofa! Who wants to sit on something called a “couch”? A couch should be redefined as a cut you receive that really hurts. A cut-ouch or “couch”.
6) List makers vs. Non-list makers. I’m a list maker and, thus, far superior to you non-Listy’s. Though I can’t stand the Listy’s that don’t bother to finish their lists. Jerks.
I could go on and on. The point is that dolphins, oak, The Constitution**, Peter, Mary, the couch, and non-Listy’s can all fall into a deep well for all I care.
If there’s anything that pisses you off, I’d like to hear it because I’m looking for new things to take issue with.
I’m going to lie down now. That was a real strain.
I should say I’m sorry for this post but I’m pretty sure you don’t deserve that.
* Also called the Running Hooker ensemble available at most runner speciality shops nationwide.
** Does this make me unpatriotic? I do wear a flag lapel pin though.
A couple quick 800's last night. Still deciding whether or not to jump into another 5k this weekend.
3x800: 2:38, 2:43, 2:43.
Monday, July 21, 2008
FeetMeetStreet rarely goes serious and normally maintains
a rigidly anti-social stance. However, I interrupt my own dedicated lack
of decency to bring you this important community announcement.
I don’t know if you are experiencing this particular brand of garden terrorism in your area but here, in Michigan, we have an epidemic afoot.
People, or Serial Tippers, are mercilessly abusing innocent, decorative flower barrel buckets. Beautiful, fresh flowers have been tenderly planted in an oak, antique whiskey barrel bucket and placed by a curb, in a front yard, or, commonly, outside of a restaurant. At some point – WHAM! – a serial tipper knocks it right over half spilling the flowers out of the violated bucket.
Buckets that should look like this:
Instead, look like this (cover your eyes if the image of desecrated flowers offends you):
I’ve seen this many times on my runs. At first, I would stop, scrape the remains of the flowers and soil back in and upright the overturned bucket. While I enjoy hobbies such as orphanage robbing and kitten stomping, I have a certain tenderness for spilt flowers. The next day, the serial tippers had already knocked it back down again. The problem is so prevalent that I rarely see a flower barrel bucket that is NOT overturned.
Who are these animals? And why do they hate the flowers? Or is it the old, antique oak barrels? I have my own hard feelings with oak* but, c’mon, there’s a time and a place to confront oak.
My community is clearly frustrated and in deep despair. I once stopped mid stride to stand up the same oak bucket outside my neighbors home three days in a row. On the fourth day, the home owner screamed at me from his front window to “leave the bucket alone.” I almost wept tears of sorrow. They’ve given up. People are leaving the remains of their beautiful flower baskets as defeated effigies. The garden terrorists have won.
I’ve tried to ignore it. When running, I’ve turned the volume up on my mp3 player to drown out the shrieking wails from the raped blossoms and groaning oak baskets. Social Distortion is not distorting my eyes however. I can't just look the other way and remain colder than a pimp's hug. **
The running community has an advantage. We are out on the roads constantly like an unaffiliated Neighborhood Watch. We can make a difference. We must ban together. Keep our ears and eyes open. The serial tippers walk amongst us though we know not who they are.
If you see a wounded barrel basket, stand it up. Scoop the flowers gently back into place. If it’s down again the next day, fix it again. The tippers think they can outlast us but we will outlast them. No matter how many times it takes – or how many angry threats from frustrated home owners – we must endure.
Your community will thank you.
Let’s STOP THE FLOWER BARREL ABUSE.
Consider this your call to arms.
* Elm rules! Suck it Oak.
** From "Prison Bound" by Social Distortion.
Let the Detroit Marathon training begin! And did I mention it is HOT out?
Xenia’s Wizards of Blogland is hilariously cutting well deserved folks down to size. And shamelessly cheap shots one person along the way.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Anyway, I call ‘em stretchy bands. Because I like to call things by the action they perform rather than the noun society* has given them. While you may have ears, livers, and TV’s, I have hearies, metabolicy, and watchies. I also have a pissy (or a limpy) but this is a PG-13 blog so I won’t define it further. (Yes, Vanilla, Viper, and Razz that was an “i” after the “p”. Don’t try it.)
Stretchy bands are great for overall strengthening and toning without building bulk. Right up a runner’s alley, really. No one wants to carry extra weight around for 26.2 miles. Or 50 miles. Or even 3 miles. When’s the last time you saw someone built like a California governor win a distance event?
You want long, loose, flexible…well, stretchy, muscles. And a solid core.
The running and other fitness activities take care of the weight. The stretchy bands can help with the toning. I’m a big believer in them and a serial user. You’d think little bits of crack must absorb into my hands the way I start twitching every evening around 9 PM to get my 20 minutes in with the stretchy bands.
Why am I telling you all this? Because no one – not one of you – has bothered to note in my comments how my torso resembles Brad Pitt’s from Fight Club. Sheesh. Take a hint already. And while we’re at it, pinch your eyes in and downward. Take a look. That’s a nose on your face. Anything else you need pointed out for you?
Here’s the best parts about the stretchy bands:
1) They are cheap to buy.
2) They’ll last several months before they finally snap in mid stretch causing you to whack the back of your hand into your nose violently.
3) You can perform 5-6 exercises in 20 minutes while watching the beginning of CSI: Miami**
4) You can look awesome answering the door bell with your shirt off, chest muscles throbbing, stretchy band casually draped around your neck when your neighbor comes over to ask you to turn off the pornography you have playing on your large screen, high def TV with the curtains open.***
Seriously, go out and get yourself a stretchy band and watch your inner washboard abdomen emerge from hiding. Mrs. Nitmos washes our clothes on mine. The stretchy bands have developed my pecs just enough so we can string a line nipple to nipple for drying too.
The real empowering part is, over time, watching yourself easily handle the resistance from the bands. At first, it’s tough. By the time they snap though, you are pulling them around like a naughty child at the mall. Grrrr. I’m strong. I just broke the stretchy band! Where’s the moon? I need to do some howling.
Then you buy another one and realize the old one was just worn out cuz, damn, I can barely stretch this one.
Let’s close with a rhyming haiku:
Stretchy bands are long
Feels great to tone and get strong
Hit it like crack bong
** Incidentally, I have never watched an entire episode of this show. Mrs. Nitmos and I watch the beginning segment only until the screaming wail of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” kicks off the opening credits. She hates Horatio’s tough guy, sunglass fiddling ways. I appreciate his cornball punchline immediately preceding The Who’s power cord. It’s the cheesiest moment on television every week. Check it out. Then, turn the channel immediately because the show sucks.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
So 17 seconds has been dominating my brain for the past few days. That’s the amount of time the “first place” finisher beat me by in my age group. Seventeen seconds!? That means I was trailing him no more than half a block away for much of the race. I must have been awash in his foul smelling cheater fumes like a water skier in a boats wake. I don’t know the guy from Adam. And one thing I don’t like to do is cast slanderous aspirations on an innocent, unsuspecting runner.
I don’t like to but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Somebody has to say something. Who let cyborgs into the race? Clearly the man is comprised of some sort of synthetic cardiovascular system that allows him to respirate without any lactic acid build up. I’m pretty sure that’s cheating. And was that a needle I saw him shooting into his legs before the start? Said something like “Immediate and Illegal 18 second 5k Performance Improvement Guaranteed!” on the side of the syringe. Figures.
The worst part of being the First Loser is the reaction from others. Case in point: Mrs. Nitmos, the kids and I head out to dinner later that evening. I’m still feeling pretty good about the PR and all. Normally I order water to drink as (1) I have an aversion to soda (2) I don’t like to pay $2 for sugar water anyway and (3) I’m a bit of a cheapskate. I was in a celebratory mood so I went for the beer. It wasn’t even happy hour.
“I’ll have a beer.” I say hoping the waitress will notice by my smug, superior tone that I just set a PR. Also, I’m rubbing my sore hamstrings the entire time to drop a hint. That doesn’t work so I add, “Do you have Personal Record beer cuz that’s what I just set today and that’d be neat and all if there was such a thing?”
“No. How ‘bout Miller?”
“Well…” Disappointed sounding. “I guess that would be alright. I’m sure it’ll soothe my aching hamstrings either way right? Is that what second place finishers normally order here?”
“Look, you want it in 12 or 22 ounces?”
Of course, I order the 22 ouncer. I’m only driving a few kids home tonight not a whole damn bus after all.
At this point, Mrs. Nitmos, who had been sitting quietly, interjects. “You sure about that 22 ounces? You didn’t finish first you know. Maybe 12 would be good for you.”
Pffftttt. Pop goes the ego.
The rest of the weekend went that way. If I wanted a “large” something or other, I was reminded that maybe “medium” was all I deserved.
Oh, well, life as First Loser.
Incidentally, I was searching for a cool official looking definition for "first loser" and came across this guy. It's pretty funny if you take it as such though I think he's actually being serious. Man, who pissed in his coffee?
Last evening, a relaxed 5 mile work-the-kinks-back-out run:
Monday, July 14, 2008
Anyway, judging by the harvest beneath me, I was leaving a trail like a rabbit.
I achieved my race goals save one.
I did not detonate.
I disassociated my legs from my brain though the redirection to my kidneys failed. Instead, my abdomen muscles are pissed off like I tried to lift a Mack truck off a box of kittens (again).
Unfortunately, try as I might, I could not dislodge another runner’s shoe. I stood close to the front of the start line and the little buggers took off like a shot. I should have tried to pick on a naïve first timer instead. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Live and learn.
Anyhow, the morning torrential down pour gave way to a slow trickle the moment Mrs. Nitmos deposited me at a park ½ mile from the start line. My ready made failure excuse was yanked away at the last minute. Oh, well, nothing left to do but run. Run hard. Or lie.
2008 Miss America, Kirstin Haglund, was there to sing the national anthem. Apparently she was taking a break from important policy matters to start us off with a fine rendition.
The one thing I truly appreciate about my normally meticulous nature is the ability to craft, study, and rehash race strategy and then, upon the firing of the starting horn, completely throw the plans out the window and run like a rabid hyena being chased by a pack of lions.
Off I went all hyenaesque recording a first mile in 5:47. Pretty much nowhere near the 6:05 or so I had planned. But look at me! Nothing could go wrong. I can run like this all day! It’s the race of a lifetime!
Second mile: 6:09. Damn my legs feel heavy. What happened? I’m not a gazelle. I’m an antelope with moderate hip dysplasia.
Oh, that’s right. I was going to run this as a simulation of the 800’s I had been training lately. You know, ½ mile hard and followed up with about a minute of relaxed running before turning it back up again. Remember? That was the plan. But plans don’t shoot delicious summer fruits from their ass. They don’t even have asses. To hell with assless plans.
May as well keep flailing away and finish the race now. The final mile is through downtown where a crowd is starting to gather for the post race parade. I’m already picking out one spectator on each block to punch in the throat if my 19 minute Garmin detonation fires. It doesn’t. Final mile rose further to 6:17.
My Garmin recorded 18:32. Official race results say 18:30. I’ll go with theirs.
Garmin also said I ran only 3.06 miles instead of 3.11. I’m a big fan of rounding to the tenths position though.
That’s when I noticed the chocolate covered cherries on the ground directly beneath me. I’m actually doing it. Oh, why didn’t I make my farcical goal Gold Dubloons from my Anus!?! Regret!
Later, after the parade, I wandered back to the park for the official posted results. Turns out, I came in second in my age group! Good enough to score one of those medals that this Summer of Speed is all about. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick around long enough after finishing to get my Olympic style platform photo op. I had to do it solo instead. And hope they’ll mail that medal to me as they closed up shop and went home.
Here’s me lamenting my failure to finish 1st in my age group.
Mrs. Nitmos did a nice job reminding me that I did not occupy the top spot the rest of the weekend as only she can. But that’s a story for another day (probably Wednesday).
Finally, I can update a PR on my PR list. Drum roll please as I change that 19:36 to 18:30. Cymbal crash. Thank you very much.
Numbers? Yes, numbers:
Official time: 18:30
Official pace: 5:58/mile
Overall place: 49th of 1484
Age group: 2nd of 74
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Saturday’s race marks the final day of Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival. Those of you who like to “pie” your cherries, should be thanking this small northern Michigan region for this delicious and healthy fruit. Tart, they are. Tasty, they is. This is also the home of the fantastic Bayshore Marathon with its nice, largely flat BQ caliber course. This, my friends, is my ancestral hometown (though I never actually ran in the race when I lived there.) I have run in either the 5k or 15k from 2000-2006. After obtaining a BQ in May of 2007, I decided to sit the 2007 Cherry Festival race out. I was busy wallowing in my own vainglorious (+3) achievement to even recognize its existence. So, this year marks the triumphant return….and to the 5k no less which has not been so blessed since 2004!
My 5k numeric goals are not many. It numbers only one. BEAT 19:00!
Nineteen minutes is my official Summer of Speed goal for this distance. I will accept nothing less. Garmin is set to alarm at 18:59. If I have not crossed the finishing mat by this time, it may as well be a detonator exploding me into tiny, sweaty, attractive bits all over the assembled crowd. Lucky be those who may walk away with a powerful leg or a bit of rippled torso.
Failing discharge, I may simply leave the course at the sound of the alarm. Defeated. Broken. Though still oddly bewitching. There is no need to complete the race at this point no matter if I’m 500 yards or 500 inches away from the finish.
It is 18:59 or less. Do or die. I am McGyver and I have 19 minutes to get this timing chip to the finish or KAPLOOEY!!!
Perspective is an odd thing. In marathoning, nineteen minutes is considered “warm-up”. Here it is the entirety of the race itself. Normally, I’m not even done fiddling with my short lining banana hammock until 25 minutes have gone by at which point the sweat glue solves the problem on its own.
I’m not going to wrap my one numeric goal in the syrupy sweetness of other “Have Fun” or “Do My Best” or “Play Fair” goals. This is a mission. It does not come with a candy coating.
As for my other goals, well, you are in luck. Those are plentiful.
Malicious Goal: Step on the back of another runner’s show dislodging it from his/her inferior foot.
You may recall that one of the pillars in the Nitmosian philosophy is that, in order for me to succeed, others must fail. It’s the Teeter-totter effect. We can’t ALL obtain our goals. It’s yin-yang. Batman vs. The Joker. It’s Corey Feldman-Corey Haim. If I am to rise to the heights I desire, another runner must fail miserably. Shoe dislodgement is subtle but devastating to a time seeking opponent.
Transcendental Goal: Disconnect my legs from my body and let them achieve independent perpetual motion.
My brain sometimes undermines my legs and tells them to slow or (gasp) stop. If I can detach my legs from my evil brain’s command, I may be able to keep a constant sub 6 minute pace without break down. I’ll attempt to redirect my brain to pick on my kidneys this race instead.
Farcical Goal: To, literally, shoot out chocolate covered strawberries from my rear upon stopping Garmin at the finish with the first two digits as “18”. This Chocolate Covered Strawberry Goose will have laid the brown and red egg! Eat up everyone!
The Betting Line
During recent 800 (w/400 cool down) intervals, I marked off a 3.11 mile segment during this exercise as a bit of a time trial and came in at 19:16. This was not a race though. If I apply my patented 2.5% race day adrenaline performance boost, that comes to 18:47.
Hmmm, this will be interesting. I hope the course is measured accurately at 3.11 miles (or less). If it turns out to be 3.15 or higher, well, that probably blows it. That’s how close we are talking.
This will be only my second 5k since 2004. The last one – in Spring 2007 – was documented here (and featured my filly rising from an early race accident to finish strong!) It should be interesting.
Whew! I think that took longer to type than the race will be to run. Something not right about that.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Mrs. Nitmos and I are sans kids this week having deposited them deep in the woods at the grandparents in northern Michigan to do battle with ticks, fleas, Lyme disease, and banjo playing neighbors (squeal like a pig). That leaves the wife and I with extra amounts of time to get a few long neglected tasks done. So, we went to the movies.
I protested and muttered something about the other husbands getting to see Iron Man or The Hulk or, at least, reruns of the UFC on cable instead. No. We were to see Sex and the City. And now, just a few short hours later, I’m using the official fan abbreviation “SatC” (see title line).
Mrs. Nitmos was required to order the tickets. How could I stand there and say “two tickets – one being male - for Sex and the City please”? I’m certain some sort of siren would go off over my head. A voice would come over the theater loudspeaker “Barb, we need one of those MALE tickets for SatC pronto. They are in the back under a layer of dust next to the Tampex.”
Rounding the bend into the theater, I took one scan of the patrons. There were a dozen or so. A few other men with their wives. We exchanged the sheepish holding-the-purse-outside-of-the-dressing-room smile.
The lights went down. The plucky theme music came on. And for the next 2+ hours, I was absorbed into the life of four New York friends and their relationship turmoil.
I’m not proud of it. I had no desire to see Cynthia Nixon topless. That challenged my puke threshold. Sarah Jessica Parker has nice legs though. I wonder if she is a runner.
I sat. I watched. You know what? It wasn’t bad. There I said it. In fact, I’m going to punctuate that even further by placing a period after each word: It. Wasn’t. Bad.
So, I guess I’m a SatC guy now. This should come as no surprise to some of you after that embarrassing hoo-ha faux pas a few weeks back.
Now, time to get my, ahem, Manolo Blahniks back out of Mrs. Nitmos’ purse. I’ll be needing those.
Congratulations to fellow Steer Mike on his 10k age group win and subsequent retirement from the 35-39 age group.
Head over to RazZdoodle's to dump fartlek post ideas all over his sight. He likes it. He's sick that way.
And just because it's been awhile, I'd like to remind each of you that Vanilla smells of moldy cheese. Really, he does. Also, he's seen SatC 6 times and owns the box set.
A tune-up last night for Saturday's 5k. I eased off the 800 repeats only doing 2 of them.
2 x 800 (400m cool downs): 2:46, 2:52.
Monday, July 07, 2008
It’s nice enough. You can even force a pretend smile when downing a sip of Budweiser swill. It’s that kind of day. Family. Fellowship. Fun. (And, apparently, it coerces the desire to write another lame YMCA slogan.)
But there’s something missing in my mitten shaped state. Where’s the exploding digits and wails of pain? Where’s the knee buckling, neck grasping impalements raining down from above? Tales like these were hallmarks of the holiday.
That is, until Michigan decided to ban the “fun” family fireworks and hilariously dangerous Lawn Jarts. They’ve robbed our traditions and – maybe – just a bit of our soul.
Once upon a time, a Michigan family would await the community fireworks like the rest of the country: by exploding powerful packs of weapons grade gunpowder for the amusement of kids and family within the confines of the backyard. Sure the fireworks were waaay to powerful for “Twelve Beer” Uncle Leo to safely handle. That was part of the fun. Would he blow himself up? How many fingers would he lose this year? Would the Demon Rocket topple over just after it was lit and fire off directly into wheel chair bound Grandma Kay? Who knows? That was part of the magic of the day.
It used to be that missing and/or mangled fingers were a badge of honor. They shouted ‘yes, I got drunk and irresponsibly handled explosives in front of my friends and family. And had a BLAST doing it!’ Finger nubs were so in.
Then, the Law stepped in all ten fingered and self righteous. “Stop handling explosives after a case of beer.” They declared. The party poopers had arrived. Laws were passed. In an instant, our ¼ mile rising, sonic booming fireworks were replaced with smoking “bombs” and party “candles”. These aren’t fireworks. They’d barely leave a second degree burn. And no way could they accidentally torch my neighbors garage. Where’s the fun in that?
You would think we could take safety and comfort at least in a rousing death-defying game of Lawn Jarts. You remember these steel pointed flying mini-spears that spiraled through the air to an uncertain destination? Yep, they’re banned also. A few kids each year get skewered and – BAM! – no more Lawn Jarts. What better way to celebrate the country’s birth than to send a few of these mini arrows up into the afternoon sun leaving small, unattended children to judge their speed and trajectory? What country is this? If Jimmy Carter were alive today, he’d roll over in his grave.
So, we celebrated the Fourth with some friends and family. I saw my odd disheveled looking relative common to all families. She seemed to be doing an impression of Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber. Same haircut. Same stupid look on the face. I wanted to congratulate her for an outstanding impression. Alas, she never broke character.
We clapped half heartedly for the community fireworks show and went home. Our thoughts drifted to the Indiana-Michigan border and the rows of real fireworks stands that dot the divide tempting us Michiganders to come south and avert the law. Maybe next year. Maybe next year…
Those of you in Fireworks states, I hope you enjoyed the holiday with your exploding kegs of powder and yelps of delight and pain.
Sure, we have all of our fingers this morning. No one was impaled.
Oh, well. Maybe next year.
For those who think I am unawares of the Iowa fireworks incident, you would be incorrect. I am awares. I think this post is fairly dripping in satire and doesn't take much to decipher. I realize it's not all Sinclair Lewisy - or even Vonneguty - satire but it's there. If you didn't catch it, you may want to pick up my new book "Nitmos' Blog Reading for Dummies". Just sayin'.
Later this week: My 5k Hopes and Dreams for this coming Saturday. A 5k? Yes, a 5k. With all the marathon running lately, I should be able to fart out a 5k at this point right? We'll see.
I disagree with Ted's correction in the comments that the "Give me liberty..." quote should be attributed to Patrick Henry. Wrong. You'll remember that he did the "I Have A Dream" speech. Check and mate.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I was thinking about creating a Runner’s Bill of Rights for today’s post in honor of the 4th of July. But, man, that’s a lot of thought and work. I’m still swamped at work and, although this isn’t a paycheck week, I still feel some obligation to get a few things done.
So, theoretically, if there WAS a Runner’s Bill of Rights, I’d like to propose a few amendments. I know you are thinking 'but, wait, you just said there isn't actually a Runner's Bill of Rights'. Way to Read for Understanding. And shut up. These proposals shouldn’t be too controversial. No need for another rousing “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!” speech by Abraham Lincoln.
First, iPods, mp3’s, cassette players and small boom boxes should be allowed during all races. Enough of this crap about insurance companies not allowing them for safety reasons. Has anyone ever had an incident with a headphone wearing runner during a race? I’ve never read an account of one online nor had an experience myself. I can still hear everything going on around me over the soothing tunes of Olivia Newton John’s Greatest Hits. No problems. I can get Physical and stay out of everyone’s way at the same time. The next time I get all up in someone’s Xanadu due to headphones will be the first time. Besides, if some oblivious jackhole gets in my way, I’ll just knock him over. Olivia makes me crazy mad like a rabid cheetah. I believe the ban on 8 tracks, for coolness reasons, and turn tables, for logistical reasons, should remain however.
Second, I propose runner’s have right of motion on all sidewalks and country roads through out the U.S. without scorn or ridicule. We should not suffer disgusted looks from Four Across sidewalk meanderers annoyed by our ‘coming on the left’ warnings. And to the dog walkers, yes, I know he’s real cute and all but, guess what, I don’t want him scratching at my legs as I run by. Trying to keep a pace here. Keep him on a short leash, buddy. I dare you to Make A Move On Me. I’ll give you a Heart Attack. However, those of you who choose to run on a busy road even though there is a perfectly acceptable sidewalk 10 feet to your right: You are on your own. Go ahead and take your life in your hands. The next coffee spill by a driver may find you diving into a bramble of bushes to save your life. This amendment will not protect you. I believe that falls under the Darwin Theory.
If we can get ¾ ratification, these amendments will become law.
Feel free to add you own amendments. Perhaps we can truly create our own Runner’s Bill of Rights.
This should be easier than Churchill’s charge up San Juan Hill to corner the British at Yorktown.
Happy trails. And have a safe 4th.
Did anyone catch Nick Symmonds final charge in the men’s 800 meter Olympic qualifier in Eugene, Oregon Monday night? I was watching it as a repeat last evening and it almost made me head right outside to hit some 800’s. Stirring. If I didn’t have a mouth full of Rice Krispy Treats at the time, I might have done just that. The dude was running 7th of 8 runners with about 150 meters left and found a seam, took off to the outside, and put on a finishing kick unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He went from near last to blowing away the field in the final turn and straightaway. Impressive. Now, time for a urine sample young man.
Bring on the Olympics!
Speaking of 800's, I was a bit disappointed with my own Tuesday night. Went out a bit fast and struggled to maintain under the heat of the late afternoon sun. I'm looking for consistent 2:50 or under pace.
5 x 800 (w/ 400 meter relaxed cooldown):