Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Running is Better than NASCAR because...

Running and NASCAR racing: Two events that both involve going from Start to Finish in the fastest time possible. Besides that, there is very little similarity between the two. Running has a large number of participants but a very small nationally interested audience, very little television coverage, and barely gets a mention on ESPN. NASCAR, on the other hand, has very few participants but a huge national and television audience and is featured regularly on ESPN.

Like many of you, I was slightly peeved that the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials held in Houston earlier this month was broadcast – tape delayed – in a condensed two hour format. The top men finished in two hours and nine minutes and the women in two hours ad twenty-five minutes. It would have been just too much to add a extra half hour to this ONCE EVERY FOUR YEAR event just to provide full coverage, wouldn’t it?! I mean, I realize that distance running is not really a spectator sport but, sheesh, have you ever watched NASCAR? Or, excuse me, have you ever watched mobile flying billboards circle a motor home dealership, like some demented rings of Saturn, for 400 LAPS (not tape delayed, not condensed into two hours even though it desperately cries out for some editing before broadcast)!?!

To ease my disturbed psyche, I decided to turn my snarky derision to the proper target. To the executives who make television decisions? No… to NASCAR. It’s official F.M.S. policy that the quickest way to get to the top is by standing on the throats of others.

So – running and NASCAR -who’s to say which is better?

Me. Running is better. Here’s why:

1. In NASCAR, “rubbing is racing”. In running, it’s a subtle form of time passing, socially acceptable groping. Think Japanese men on a subway.

2. Midriffs.



3. Distance runners like to throw in a right turn every now and then to break up the monotony.

4. If there is a collision between runners, the rest of the field doesn’t bunch back together and restart once the blood and skin has been cleaned up. I didn’t realize this while watching the 2011 NYC Marathon. As Meb drifted further behind, I was cheering for a collision between a few runners on the course that would collapse the leader’s lead back down to one second…because that’s the fair way to do it, right NASCAR, RIGHT??

5. Race bib numbers are not shaved into back hair.

6. Enlarged, healthy hearts, hamstrings and lung capacity vs. enlarged livers. You choose.

7. Celebrating a win:



8. Bumper stickers:

9. What’s the worst that could happen?


Okay, so maybe this is a draw.

10. Sport origins:

Ol' bootleggers

Heroic, albeit mythical, messengers

Despite that fact that we enjoy this sport in relative media anonymity, rest assured that running is indeed better than NASCAR. Just as it was Charlie Sheen before that. So continue to enjoy those right turns, continue to run free of gas fires, continue to swig a post-race non-Budweiser refreshment! Just watch out for this guy and his pick-up at the next intersection.

Happy trails.

Don’t forget to enter the random drawing for the free YakTrax. You have until noon ET tomorrow. As I mentioned, you may enter as often as you would like. It seems that Deb is the only one who has taken me up on this. I don’t want to hear any crying if she wins. You all had your chance. And, as of now, Xenia is the runway winner of the ‘screw a charity’ hand picked winner…unless someone has any other ideas. C’mon, Sarah McLachlan and those sad face puppies on TV? Who wouldn’t want to screw them over?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You Get Some YakTrax, You Get Some YakTrax!

It’s giveaway time, Oprah style! Everyone look under their seat for their prize! What? No prize…just chewing gum and the Ghosts of Farts Past? Shame. I guess we’ll do it the old fashioned way: Random number generator.

YakTrax Pro

But I have MULTIPLE YakTrax to give away! So…

YOU get some YakTrax!
And YOU get some YakTrax!

And that’s all. Two. Two YakTrax to giveaway. That is “multiple” according to Webster. Fortunately, that should cover half the F.M.S. audience so your odds are quite good. And two out of the four of you may live in warm climates anyhow. I guess I could split the pairs apart and give four INDIVIDUAL YakTrax (YakTrack?) away so everybody gets a little something. Sure, you would have only one for one foot but you’d still be covered against slip n’fall every other step. That’s 50% better than you had it before. That’s not half bad.

Haven’t heard of/used YakTrax? Well, this is a product I don’t mind pimping.* Unlike the laundry detergent I once struggled mightily to review– two separate times! – I actually use YakTrax and love them. You should go to the company website to get all of the specifics but, basically, it’s like having a few dozen tiny claws attached to the bottom of your feet to help you stay upright on those icy and snowy runs. Remember those little jagged follicles Spider-Man would use to climb a wall? Just like that but a touch bigger, coils instead of jagged follicles, and without the impossibly large codpiece. (Yeah, right, Tobey, in your dreams.)

I’ve used YakTrax for years. In the depressing snow swept wasteland that is mid-Michigan in winter, they’ve sure come in handy to keep my pace from a labored fast walk to an actual running stride. I can return home quicker to my modest dwelling to again yearn for the re-appearance of the sun…or suicide, whatever comes first. Of course, once I received a free pair, there’s been almost no snow to speak of around here. Right now I can see my lawn. My dead, brown, bird pecked lawn. I can see the poop my dog pooped back in the beginning of December. It’s whiter and fuzzier than the rest, that’s how I know. It’s just not the same when the kids make snowmen out of rotting dog feces.

I haven’t been able to use the new YakTrax outside yet but, soon, I will. Michigan won’t let a winter go by without at least a few donkey punches to the back of the head by way of 15 inch storms. Until then, I can only use them on the treadmill. But that’s not making Mrs. Nitmos too happy. Her belt is now “ventilated” (as I call it). There’s only so many times I can “tease” the dog by stepping on her ears with them. And, try this when you receive a pair, see how your friends react as you walk across their wood floors in them. Oh, it’s funny…some people just don’t like to laugh.

If you would like a pair, there are of course a few hoops for you to jump through.

1) Like YakTrax on Facebook.
2) Leave a comment here for the random number generator to select you.
3) If you win, be willing to provide me your name/mailing address/shoe size (sock size for you barefooters). If you’re concerned about giving that info away, don’t worry, a restraining order can be filed at any future time.

I guarantee that ONE pair will be given away randomly. The second pair may also…or I may choose to give it to the person with the most creative answer to the following question:

If you could embezzle money from a charity and never get caught, which charity would it be and why?

So, Good Luck! We are all counting on you.

You know what…I can’t have folks coming here and leaving empty handed. I recognize that some of you have no regional interest in running snow shoes because the very idea of snow confuses you. Here’s what I’m going to do…those of you that don’t win – or want - the YakTrak get a consolation prize: Free barefoot running shoes! That’s right…

YOU get some barefoot shoes.
And YOU get some barefoot shoes.
And YOU get some barefoot shoes…

The drawing will be done on Wednesday, February 1st at noon. Comment/Enter as often as you would like. What do I care?

Happy Yaking.

*Usual disclaimers apply: A pair given to me free in exchange for a mention on this blog. The use of the word “pimping” and, later, “codpiece” are all my doing, however. Also, in case any other companies are reading this, here's a short list of other products I don't mind pimping: treasury notes, non-Schlitz beer, mace (both medieval and modern), iPads, and codpieces.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Devil Inside Us

It’s in the house. That demonic whirring noise is coming from somewhere INSIDE THE HOUSE….

That’s right, We Bought A Treadmill!* I’m not one of those husbands that blames everything on his spouse but…it was Mrs. Nitmos’ idea. Really. I only passively resisted at first. The fact is that I don’t like running on a treadmill. Who does, right? But then I realized that I could avoid some of those ankle twisting, knee torquing winter ice runs so I didn’t put up much of a fight. Besides, Mrs. Nitmos is more apt to get in some miles on the thing and, if that works better for her, than great! Plus, while she’s on the mill and dealing with kid noises all around her, I can still run outside in relative peace and quiet.

I’ve been on it twice so far. It’s positioned in our finished basement directly at the TV. I was quite the sight to behold yesterday – as I am normally- but more so flinging sweat all over the futon couch nearby and my daughter’s Barbie house in front while holding a remote control channel surfing between miles 4 and 5. I watched part of a Dane Cook movie. It was 15 degrees and blowing snow outside. I was on a treadmill, in my basement, watching a Dane Cook movie. I believe a baseball player in an Iowa corn field hit the nail on the head with the appropriate question, “Is this heaven?” You’re goddamn right.

I vowed to only use the thing for one run a week during the winter months. The other runs must be completed outside in full on Sherpa gear, if necessary. I don’t want to go all soft and treadmilly. Treadmill legs are the worst kind to go into a race with. It’s fool’s gold…false confidence…a mirage. Running on a treadmill is to actual running like Michelob Ultra is to beer. It’s nearly the same. Nearly…except for that key component: substance.

A buddy of mine once trained for a 5k with me…except he did his runs on a treadmill while I was out on the sidewalks. He excitedly told me all about the speeds he was obtaining in the weeks leading up to race day while I nodded and smiled skeptically. On race day, he ran a full minute per mile slower than expected. Treadmill legs! I don’t know what the mathematical conversion is for a predominantly treadmill oriented runner but I believe it is something like this:

Finish time = (Expected pace*miles) * 1.15% (treadmill penalty) + one minute (Dane Cook movie penalty, if applicable)

Since I work out of my basement, I can see the big ugly thing looming out of the corner of my eye as I type this. It’s weird to have this thing you loathe to a visceral level - but acquiesce on occasion - sitting right in my home. I feel the house needs an exorcism to expel it but, now that it is inside, it’ll be tough to remove. I find myself looking at it a muttering “my precioussss” over and over again. I want it to go…but then I don’t want it to leave either. In other words, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY PRECIOUSSSSS!

So, until late March, I’ll continue to hit one run per week on the precious treadmill. By then, I’ll have viewed all of the Dane Cook movies Comedy Central has to offer. My futon will be a Slip N’ Slide and the two story Barbie house will have appeared to have been overwhelmed by a hurricane. (Don’t worry, honey, you can still rip the comb through Barbie’s matted hair.) After that, the treadmill will become what it really should be: a coat rack.

If you no longer see me on the sidewalks…if my race times suddenly decrease…if I’m found sleeping on the padded mill surface afraid someone is going to take it…you can place the blame directly where it belongs.

Not on Precious.

Not on me.

On Mrs. Nitmos, of course.

Happy milling.

*Incidentally, this was the name of a screenplay I’d written and pitched to Matt Damon. He declined…then, months later, out comes We Bought A Zoo. Have you seen it? You tell me which had the better premise.

Officially Official: As I suspected, I wasn’t virtually mugged, I’m in for NYC Marathon! They even provided a cute littel "badge" for me to display...which says nothing about New York...a marathon...well, anything, really. So, wait, was I mugged?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Olympic Trials According to a Ten Year Old

Much like her Dad, my daughter likes to offer unsolicited commentary on the Things Going On around her. She’ll have a blog one day and it’ll be equal parts hilarious, sarcastic, and bitter. I can’t wait to read it. She looks at life with a cocked eyebrow and a sharp quip. Yes, she’s a chip off the ole Handsome.

So as I settled in Saturday evening to view my DVR’ed Olympic Trials for the men’s and women’s marathon from Houston, I expected a few choice remarks. Never to disappoint:

“We’re going to watch a show about running? Don’t you do that all the time…can’t you just watch yourself?”

The majesty of the event was lost on her. The summer Olympics? Last time those were on, she still had an interest in Dora the Explorer and backpacks for some reason. Backpack, backpack….backpack, backpack…all over the house.

She likes sports too. She plays tons of soccer, likes gymnastics and is pretty darn fast when she cares to run a mile, or shorter, race. Despite this, she still doesn’t respect the endurance part of the marathon. To her, it’s a bunch of people jogging. What’s a five minute mile pace anyway?

“Why aren’t they running fast? They are just jogging.”

I tried to explain that a five minute per mile pace is hardly “jogging”. I tried to explain that the word “jogging”, in some circles, is even considered derisive. I tried to explain about endurance and discipline and perseverance and all of the things that it takes to build a successful marathoner. And then Ryan Hall started blowing snot rockets and she forgot about all of that and just crinkled her face and said, “Gross.” I briefly considered explaining the usefulness of a snot rocket but quickly realized that I’d already attempted an overly complicated explanation regarding abdomen blockage and pain to explain my constant farting so I figured she wouldn’t buy this argument either.

I clearly remember my daughter’s reaction when I first qualified for Boston at a marathon back in 2007. My family was at the finish line waiting for my triumphant completion and qualification. While I was elated and Mrs. Nitmos congratulated me, I could tell by the look on her face that she was either confused or unimpressed. A short while later, I found out which:

“You were barely running. I can run faster than that.”

Ever try to explain endurance and 26.2 miles worth of exhaustion to a six year old? It’s like trying to explain to Ashton Kutcher that there is a thing called being “too hip”. You can talk and talk and it just won’t register. My then six year old didn’t get the fact that I simply couldn’t sprint to the finish; Ashton Kutcher will still wear reggae hats in public. It’s no use.

And then she took notice of the tight running bikini pants worn by the female marathoners.

“Why are the girls wearing swimming suits?”

Here was an opportunity to get into a whole host of issues. I could have launched into a discussion about our male dominated culture and how women are often objectified by impossible standards of “beauty”. I could have explained that, though Daddy enjoys the bikini bottomed marathoners as he’s a helpless slave to his base male urges , there is no place for sexism in sport or society and that I’ll trust her to never fall victim to body image issues. She should love herself – and her body – how it is and that everyone else can kiss her bikini clad or non-bikini clad – her choice - behind. I could have pointed out that the men are wearing horribly offensive side split running shorts but that it was better than running in a Speed-o, which would force the event onto HBO or Showtime late at night with an NC-17 rating, and wasn’t that just a double standard? If I was a better man, I would have said all of these things. Instead, I said:

“Wind resistance.”

She did seem at least mildly interested as Meb, Ryan and Abdi finished amid great elation while Dathan collapsed in utter disappointment. Then Shalane, Desiree and Kara crossed and I hoped she’d feel pride and respect for her fellow females. She watched them embrace and the announcers explain that they were off to the Olympics for Team U.S.A.!

“So…they have to go to the Olympics? What if they don’t want to?”

I explained that they wanted to which is why they put in all of those hours of work and ran this race. She shrugged her shoulders unimpressed and went upstairs to look up funny clips on YouTube. I could only hope that something from the event made an impression with her. The spirit. The determination. The pride. But as I gazed at the now empty staircase, I wasn’t sure.

I sighed that sigh that parents know well. The one that expresses exasperation at a teaching moment lost. And then I settled back in my chair and hoped that the cameraman would give me a money shot on those bikini clad, celebrating female marathoners.

But that's a story for another day....the Olympic Trials According to a Man.

Happy trails.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Back to the Core

It’s that time of year again. No, it’s not time to check back into rehab, smart asses. If last year taught us anything, it’s that nothing can solve a significant substance abuse problem quite like two hookers, mounds of blow, a twitter account, tiger blood, a bad publicist, and a hastily arranged “World Tour”. All of those things = Problem Solved and a new TV show!

It’s time to work on my beach muscles, the glamour muscles, the vanity muscles…whatever you want to call them. It’s time to hit the core. I’m talking abs, quads, biceps. Hell, I may even do a trapezius (but not both – they don’t deserve it* – and I’m fully aware that may leave me with an awkward hunchback look). Glutes, you ask? Of course. Where others see a runner with little to no ass – possibly even concavely bending towards the anus – I see a rigid, structurally aesthetic** set of twin man butt mounds shamefully hidden from full public appreciation. My most surprising choice may be the decision to include the sphincter amongst my glamour muscles. But homeboy here isn’t satisfied unless he can jettison waste with a sharp pit-tooie! sound like a B.B. pellet rocketing against a paint can. Take this ass canon into a standard issue piece of Applebee’s porcelain and see how many looks you get around the common sink.

It’s not like my core goes neglected all year though. Long time F.M.S. readers know all about my affection for stretchy banding and crunching. Certainly my family is well aware of my penchant for expelling farts with an ab tearing primal grunt, forcing them out two minutes before they are “due”. I work the core. I work it all year, baby. It helps my running. And my farting. But, mostly, my running.

But things get a little ragged during the holiday. I may be crunching with a plate of cookies balanced on my belly. I rehydrate during stretchy banding with swigs of rum and eggnog. Okay, maybe rum and Coke. Truthfully, rum with a Coke chaser. Okay, okay, it’s just the rum. Mixed with Wild Turkey whiskey. I still stretchy band but, instead of looong, slooow satisfying strokes, it’s more conjugal prison style, if you know what I mean. There’s no time to waste during the holidays. My pleasure centers need engaging. My gluttony needs gluttoned. There isn’t something tasty and/or intoxicating touching my lips and/or body so things must change.

Sometime after the first of the year, I wake up with cookie crumbs around my mouth, a gradually decreasing B.A.C., 6-7 extra pounds around my belly, and a hideously flabby sphincter. My eyes are groggy, hair unkempt…What. The. Hell. Just. Happened???

So every new year, I rededicate myself to the core…where 11 months of discipline will undoubtedly peter out again in an orgy of chocolate, alcohol, chocolate alcohol, and nougat – whatever the hell that is. Let the rededication begin!

Every runner knows – or should know by now – that a strong core is crucial. It controls your body positioning, your gait, your turnover, your breathing, and keeps the jiggle to a minimum. There are all sorts of studies out there that analyze just how much a strong core can help you go faster and longer (and, apparently, litter your blog post with double entendres) so I’m not going to repeat the science here. This is not a science blog if you weren’t aware. Witness how much time I’ve spent already making sphincter jokes. Suffice to say, the core is important and, if you aren’t already working it, you should be. Here’s my normal Monday through Thursday routine (I save the weekends for my gluttony addiction):

- 20 minutes stretchy banding (I have 5 workouts without multiple reps that work the arms, shoulders, one trapezius and the core)
- 500-600 crunches/ab exercises (I have various “stations” of my leg positioning to work different areas)
- 1-2 controlled, quality farts (I have two different intonations I prefer to disgust the family)

All of these are done nightly during the week days while watching various sporting events or ridiculous television shows. It’s amazing how TV can help you with your core. Ever try planking for the duration of a commercial break? Not as easy as it sounds - especially if you get one of those long 4 minute breaks that A&E’s Intervention specializes in.

I can’t say for sure that it helps my running. But I know I prefer not to have my belly jiggling so much when I’m huffing and puffing my way down a sidewalk shirtless on a warm summer’s day. I figure I’ll work the core until I can either wash my clothes on my abs, play the xylophone on them, or race Fisher Price Little People mogul style down the ole treasure trail. Pick your metaphor.

At least for the next eleven months, then it’s a month long Sheen fest again. But that’s a long way off…a lot of blow, hookers and World Tours.

Happy trails.

* Long story but they know what they did
** Or, “ass”-thetic, as the case may be.


NYC Update: I see in the last few days that the NYC Marathon has charged the FULL amount of the race to my credit card - not just the application fee. So....either I'M IN...or I just got mugged. Virtually.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Randumbery Hearts NY

I used to run this semi regular feature called "Randumbness" about, as you would guess, various random and dumb things going on. It was nice page filler. You thought you were getting actual carefully constructed content. Instead, you were getting fluff, filler, time wasters. I'm not saying this to foreshadow this post. I'm just saying the post title is Randumbery and if you can put 2 and 2 together....well, we'll both be pleasantly surprised at your cognitive skills.

How ‘bout we start the New Year off with another lame round of Randumbery?!

New Year’s Eve and Lazy Eyes

When you have kids, you find yourself doing things you’d otherwise never do. First among those is wiping someone else’s ass. Second among those is trying to convince a six year old that the bowl hair cut they just received – and Daddy got for $4.95! – looks GREAT! Even when the kids grow up a bit, as mine have, and the ass wiping and $4.95 bowl cuts are no longer possible, there are still compromises along life’s Road of Coolness you thought you’d be traveling.

All of this carefully worded pre-explanation is to try to justify why we spent New Year’s Eve in a bowling alley. But there we were on the evening of the 31st of December. Sure, we had accomplices: Another couple and their two kids also took the off ramp from Cool Highway into the Cherry HellHill Lanes in Southeastern Michigan. The eight off us spent the evening wearing clown shoes, throwing polished rocks at bright white immobile penguins, and counting the lazy eyes amongst the other patrons. I’m convinced that the ratio of lazy eyes to normal eyes at a bowling alley is 1:3. I believe we stumbled upon the Midwest’s largest collection of bowling alley lazy eyes this side of Super Walmart. But it does pass the time speculating on the degree of the lazy….I think I saw a full fledged 90 degreer two lanes down!

Of course, this whole evening was made easier by bowling alley beer. They still serve Blatz on tap? Who knew? And, yes, I finally broke 100 by the third game. And, yes, I’m on antibiotics for my foot herpes.

Who Has Two Thumbs and Hearts the New York City Marathon?

This guy!

Who has two thumbs and sat at his computer on January 2nd at noon to be among the first people to register even though he’s supposed to have an automatic qualification?

This guy!

Who has two thumbs and is entirely too eager to fork over $250 to slowly kill myself across 5 Burroughs?

This guy!

Who has two thumbs and made room reservations two months ago in anticipation of his race?

This guy!

Who has one finger and an angry disposition vented frequently on this lightly read blog if, for some reason, he doesn’t gain entry?

NY, you don’t want to find out. Do the right thing.


That’s the percentage of your daily vitamin B12 amount inside a single serving of a product called Zipfizz sent to me for a product review. 41,667%? Yeah, that seems about right, I guess. Anything less than 40,000% and I’m sluggish.

I haven’t had a chance to use and review it yet. That 41,667 number keeps bouncing around my brain. The Zipfizz folks claim that there’s no toxicity in taking that much B12. I confirmed that you can’t “overdose” on B12 through a few other medical websites so….I guess I’ll try it sometime.

With so much B12, after one serving, by my calculation, that means I won’t have to take more B12 for 416 days – or until about March 1st, 2013 if I took some today. So I’d have that going for me…which is nice. But by March of 2013, ho boy look out, I’ll be jonesing for some B12.

Stay tuned for a Zipfizz review. I’ll post one with or without my liver.

Running, Sans Pants

I’m not knocking the weather around here. It’s been a weird mid-winter Goreian 40 degrees here lately. No snow and sunny in spots for two weeks and for the coming few days. In January. In Michigan. I haven’t picked up my shovel since mid-December.

I’ve been running without pants!*

I’m not knocking the weather but I’m sure as shit knocking on wood.

Happy trails.

* No pants but shorts. It’s still too cold for my flippety flop to be left exposed. Ever hear of a “blue helmet”? No, and there’s a reason for that.