Monday, August 31, 2009

Day Late, $100 Short

Rest easy, I have returned.

Has it really been 10 days since I last posted? Have you all been sitting at your computers hitting refresh on F.M.S. every 30 seconds for that many days? It's flattering but, really, get a life. I think we are at the point where you can insult yourselves now. Go ahead and make up some quip about your lack of intelligence and recite it in whatever voice you have assigned to me in your inner monologue. Feel free to make that voice sound particularly arrogant and condescending because that's actually what I sound like anyhow. Oh, and a lot like James Earl Jones too. Not wheezy asthmatic Darth Vader James Earl Jones but "This is CNN" James Earl Jones.*

I know this is a day late but, if you haven't already, check out the new (i.e. week and a half old) Banned On The Run podcast featuring special guest John from Hella Sound. John discusses his concept and creation of specially designed running music set to your personalized pace. For a BOTR episode, it's weirdly educational. And I think the word "poop" only appears twice!

I'll give you a full recap of our trip later this week. Like all of my vacations, I have a theme for it. It developed naturally. How could it not? We ran into it wherever we went. The theme is "mobility carts and the people on them." I'll elaborate later.

And now, drum roll please, time to announce the winner of the $100 Dick's Sporting Goods gift certificate!

Only 41 entries??? What? You people don't want $100 to spend on sports equipment?

I realize some people had commented twice. I commented once myself. And some of you commented to tell me not to enter you(?!). Heck, Vanilla, the English Banker**, even entered when he should have known that if his number had come up I simply would redo the drawing until it didn't. To make it easy, I entered 41 into the randomizer. If it hit on me or someone who didn't want to win (or Vanilla), I would just redo the drawing. It hit on 19.

Commenter 19 is the inappropriately named "needlerunning" commenter. Congratulations, needlerunning, you win!! Even though I wince every time I say "needlerunning"***, you have $100 to spend at Dick's once you receive the gift certificate! Please send your name, address, and email address to me at From there, I'll pass it on to Andrew from marketing who will arrange to send you the Dick's certificate. Way to play the game! Great comment sequence selection!

I am busy catching up on work and blogs. I'll be back soon with an exciting vacation recap where I insult unsuspecting people. I might even have pictures. Any guesses as to where I've been? Here's a hint: Warm, daily mid afternoon rain, lots of mobility carts, wait lines, and the home of the $5 bottle of water.

Happy trails.

* Incidentally, I've always felt that you should only go by three names if you are a serial killer or assassin. J.E.J. is the only exception.
** I noticed that Vanilla issued another "completely original" Rundum Thoughts while I was away. And called me a terrorist. All I can say is: (1) Revolutionary War (2) Cargo shorts. Scoreboard!
*** I surely hope there isn't a couch potato going by the screen name "castrationsitting" out there somewhere.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Giving Away $100 Dick's!

Perverts. The title is not what you think and you know that.

You’ve probably seen a few of these giveaways in bloggerland already but, since you haven’t seen it here before, it’s all new to me and you. And, besides, if you want to argue about it, then how ‘bout I guarantee you don’t win a $100 gift certificate? It can be done.

What makes my giveaway of the $100 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate different than the others? More anger. More cheap shots. Less common decency. The Three Pillars of Nitmoism.

I know that I mentioned that if my track intervals didn’t go well on Tuesday that I was going to make you do some crazy shit in order to win the certificate. They didn’t go well but I can’t exactly deem it a failure. If you read that post (and I’m sure you did), you know that I ran my intervals exactly as I had pre-determined I would. I can’t take it out on you. Begrudgingly, I’ll have to ask you to put away the car battery and jumper cables, lock up the farm animals, re-shell the turtle, and return the midget to the carnival. I guess I’ll use a random generator to determine the winner.

So, formally…

Hear ye, hear ye, guys and gals! Here is your chance to win a $100 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate. It’s good for in-store and online purchases. Don't live near a Dick's? No problem. You obviously own a computer right?

The rules are…

1. Follow @dickssportcmo on Twitter

2. Leave a comment with an answer to the question "What would you buy at Dick's with $100 and why?"

I will also give special consideration to your entry if, in addition to the official Dick’s rules above, you respond to one of these two dickish questions below in your comment:

1. Assuming Vanilla has a pet, how would you prepare it for dinner service? Describe your recipe with special emphasis on the word “minced.”


2. If RazZ and Viper were conjoined twins and only one could survive surgical separation, would you go ahead with the procedure anyway? And why?

Leave a comment. Get entered. WIN! (Well, one of you anyhow.) As mentioned, it will be randomly drawn by assigning each comment a number based on order entered and using a random number generator to do the selection. I will accept entries up to midnight ET, August 30th, 2009! The winner will be announced on this blog shortly after that. You will then need to contact me and provide me with your name, address, and email address so the certificate can be sent to you. If you don’t want to give me your name and address – for obvious reasons (see car battery and midget discussion above) – you are S.O.L. Thems the rules. Besides, I already checked with my parole director* and I’m cleared – finally! – to be involved in something like this.

Why will my giveaway remain open for so long? And why will you be staring at this on my main page all next week? Cuz, I’m on vacation. Again. I doubt I’ll even give you all the consideration of a quick update but you never know. A lot depends on what Hurricane Bill does to me.

Now, go, comment, win. Good luck!

Happy trails.

* Incidentally, when I told my p.d. about this giveaway, he scoffed and asked, “So they are giving a $100 Dick’s coupon to a million dollar a-hole?” Funny guy. Rob one little series of county orphanages and you have to deal with these jokesters....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


In the title for this post, I asterisked out the naughty word for some of my more sensitive readers. I’ve thrown around curse words here before but I try not to do it too frequently. But, just so we are clear, that is an f-bomb. It’s not Mindfreak, Criss Angel’s douchy magic show.

See? Douchy.

I was at the track last night knocking out some intervals. (Pay attention. You are probably interested in how this turned out as it might end with you having to hook a car battery to your nipples in order to win my upcoming giveaway. Keep your fingers crossed.) It was hot. It was windy. There was a fat kid and his trainer/sister/girlfriend doing laps in lanes 1 and 2 clearly in violation of the Slow Traffic Keep Right track law.

This is where the Mindf*ck comes in. As I was loosening up and watching Fat Kid and Sis make their way around the track, I had already started my inner whine. It’s too hot. My shoes are getting old and hard on the feet. I’d rather be home wearing a fish net shirt, like the guy from Right Said Fred, with one arm casually thrown over my head preparing to amaze you with an illusion. In other words, I was being douchy.

The plan was 6 x 800m intervals with the standard 400m easy interval in between. I just did 5 x 800 last week in the low 2:50’s for each with very similar weather conditions. Should be able to do about the same right with just one more interval? Sure, unless you Mindf*ck yourself right from the start.

I’m a big believer in mind over matter. Confidence. The ole Can Do attitude. I absolutely hate when I hear (or read) someone say they don’t think they can do this or they probably can’t do that. I’ve written about this before so I won’t get into it again. It’s self defeating to talk yourself down. No problem with a dose of realism but that’s completely different than pure negative CAN’T energy.

It’s Mindf*cking. Before this interval session even began, I treated my mind like a Dutch prostitute. Despite all previous track interval results as evidence, I set my goal at 2:57 per 800m. Why 2:57? I don’t know. That’s like asking why someone would allow themselves to be photographed like in the one above. In mascara. It makes no sense. I just settled on the number. I mentally boxed myself in to a sub par work out before I even started. Mind. F*cked.

Guess how it turned out?


Big surprise, a bunch of 2:57’s. I lapped Fat Kid and Sis on a number of occasions (even as they walked during rest breaks IN LANE 1 AND 2!) Periodically, Fat Kid took a few breaks to sit in the grass and drink some water. As I ran by, I noticed he looked remarkably like Jonah Hill. I knew it wasn’t Jonah Hill because Seth Rogan wasn’t attached to his hip. He looked drained and defeated. But he continued to get back up and do another lap. Over and over again. I was impressed with his determination.

I completed my intervals just as they completed theirs. I had basically run 2:57’s just like I said I would before hand. Once I settled on 2:57, there was no way I was going to do any better. I ran to the number and gave no greater effort. Meanwhile, Fat Kid was giving all he could next to Sis. By the end, I realized I didn’t deserve lane 1. My pace was faster but his effort was greater.

I had Mindf*cked myself to the point where I’m pretty sure I have a brain STD now. Don’t expect a lesser effort than you know you are capable of before even starting! I had started the work out settling on a number in which I knew I could out perform and mentally chastising Fat Kid and Sis for their douchy track etiquette breach. By the end, I could see that Fat Kid had put his all into that work out. Me? Well, it’s called a Mindf*ck...

And it made me the douche. Someone get me a fish net shirt and some goggles.

Happy trails.

Next post: I promise, the giveaway exists!


Also, I apologize that I haven't been commenting a lot recently. Work calls. I promise I'll make it up. Maybe with a wonderful illusion that'll both astound and amaze you....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Usain Bolt, Slightly Faster, Attention Seeker

It was quite a day yesterday. Quite a day for people who measure their races from, say, here to the next mail box. And jump around like they won the lottery when the time registers a PR by tenths or even hundredths of a second.

Jamaican Usian Bolt won the men’s 100 meters yesterday at the Berlin World Championships in 9.58. He bested the previous world record – which he also held from the 2008 Olympics – by 0.11 seconds. In other words, it was 9.69. Um, does anyone notice anything weird about that PR? Like, maybe, the first digit is still 9? My current 5k PR is 18:22. I’m pretty sure that if I ran an 18:21.99 in my next 5k, I wouldn’t mark it as a PR.* At the very least, I wouldn’t dance around hugging my teammate in some sort of homoerotic lovefest ala Rocky and Apollo Creed splashing around in the water in Rocky III.

Hey everyone, look at me, barely faster than I was before!

Mr. Bolt might have “”shattered” the world record – if we define “shattered” as the amount of time it takes to blink – but has he ever out run a mechanical device? I did. I win.

Maybe the back drop wasn’t as dramatic as the Berlin Olympic Stadium, where Jesse Owens became legendary, but the feat was considerably greater. Me (shirtless, obviously). Garmin (p.b.t.n) Mano-a-machino. 90 degrees. Humidity. A belly full of Fla-Vor-Ice Pops. Nine planned miles. Bring the pain.

I’m not going to lie. Three miles in, I was already drenched in sweat and thinking about cutting this run short. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) was still ticking along seemingly impervious to the heat. Damn, I could go for a Fla-Vor-Ice. Grape, preferably. In this heat, it would melt quite a bit leaving at least an inch worth of delicious grape ice residue liquid to slurp up from the bottom (and leave me with one of those delightful, throat chocking coughs as the syrup wrapped around my tonsils.)

Four and half miles in, I stopped for 30 seconds to catch my breath and drag my already wet wrist band all over my forehead and rippled torso. I distinctly recall a sound like an ascending xylophone scale as the wrist band bounded over my six pack abs. I was one can of Dr. Pepper and one video camera away from making a very sexy Dr. Pepper commercial. Pepsico’s loss.

Determined to beat Garmin(p.b.t.n.), I marshaled on. By 5 miles, the impossible happened. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) started to show some signs of wear. The pace per mile display showed dash lines and stopped registering a reading. Under the sun, I picked up the pace. It was breaking time.

Before 5.5 miles, the Garmin (p.b.t.n.), metal gears, springs, coils, and a little bit of magic, stopped recording miles. I ran down the sidewalk checking my wrist every 30 seconds or so to see if it was true, The mileage was frozen: 5.54 miles. 5.54 miles. 5.54 miles. It read the same every time. I ran another mile and half home. 5.54 miles. Dummy, I went farther than that, I mocked.

I had won. I had beaten Garmin (p.b.t.n.) Usain Bolt can have his barely measurable PR. I’m an endurance runner. I shit out 100 meters like a trail of bunny droppings. And I just out ran a mechanical device designed for tracking long distances. (Would it even be able to measure 100 meters for Bolt? Or would Garmin laugh and turn itself off?) It wilted in the evening sun. The notoriously infallible Garmin (p.b.t.n.) failed. My human body, made of tissue, bones, taunt muscle, and a face full of cute, continued on.

Sure, I ended up quitting after 7 miles. No need to kill myself in this heat right? Besides the battle had been won.

I didn’t bother to notify the networks. Let Mr. Bolt have his day. Congratulations, your PR moved from 9 something to 9 something. Great job, I guess. I’ll just sit here in anonymity and enjoy that Fla-Vor-Ice, the champagne of popsicle treats.

But, next time, how ‘bout you just let us know when your PR changes to 8 something, at least, m’kay?

Happy trails.

* Who am I kidding? I would round that down to 18:21 and totally count it.


7 miles @ 7:05 pace. An ugly, dehydrated run.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Randumbery VII

I used to run this semi regular feature called "Randumbness" about, as you would guess, various random and dumb things going on. It was a 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.

Stone Hedge

First, I want to thank everyone for their enthusiastic response to Wednesday’s post. It propelled me to one of my biggest hit days ever! Now I fully recognize most of you saw the title and assumed I was either (a) offering free pot or (b) going to tell you where to get some. I never really felt like F.M.S. drew the stoner community before but, after Wednesday’s response, I might hedge against losing them by including a regular discussion on recreational drug use just to keep the hits coming. Maybe I’ll get a sponsorship from Doritos. Anyhow, stay tuned for a future post in which I compare my last track interval work-out to the rush of heroin through the veins…

Reason #17 Not To Be A Cyclist: Blow Darts

In a recent Banned on the Run podcast, we talked about the whole cyclists vs. runner faux rivalry. I don’t believe it exists. At least, until I heard everyone whining about cyclists not waving hello (which, by the way, I also wouldn’t do if I was a cyclist. Hell, I barely do the runner’s wave anyhow.) In a recent post, I highlighted the new threat to runners: falling tree branches. And now comes a very real threat to cyclists. One I’m sure they never considered before. Blow darts. No kidding. Blow-freaking-darts. Like the kind you see on TV where the mysterious, magical jungle tribe with painted faces attacks and paralyzes the silly non-jungle intruders. I fully expect to take a blow dart to the neck if I ever travel to the Amazon. But, while cycling in, say, Delaware?

Four Hit With Blow Darts in Delaware

(Aug. 12) -- Authorities in Delaware are investigating a recent series of blow dart attacks in which four people have been injured. One official described the attacks as "a scene from an Indiana Jones movie."

The first report came Tuesday morning from cyclist Dan Wilson, who said he was shot in the thigh with a dart while riding his bike, according to a report from NBC Philadelphia.

Wilson was not badly hurt, but said the dart was lodged over two inches into his leg.

After hearing reports of Wilson's attack, a woman came forward to say she was hit in the neck with a blow dart while biking on Monday. Both Wilson and the woman said they noticed a white pickup truck driving by at the time of the incidents.

The case grew stranger Wednesday with the report of two more blow dart attack victims. One of the victims, a 17-year-old, was hit in the hand and the injury will require surgery, WPVI-TV reported.

WPVI reported the fourth person had been hit by a blow dart, but did not have further details on the incident. Both of the latter attacks allegedly occured before Wilson was shot, but the victims only came forward after seeing news reports on the incident.

"This has to be one of the strangest incidents of late and in the years I've been a state trooper I've never seen anything like this," Jeffrey Whitmarsh, of the Delaware State Police, said. Police are investigating but have few suspects or leads in the case.

If you are in the greater Delawarian area, watch out. That pinch you feel on the thigh might not be a spasming quad. You just might have been blow darted. And was that the runner with the side split shorts that I just passed - and failed to wave to - that just ducked behind the tree?

I’ll take falling tree limbs over blow darts any day.

Timo Kaukonen: Dehydrated, Detoxified, Extremely Relaxed, and Very Thirsty, But A Champion!

I think I’ve found my new extreme sport: Professional saunaing. Really, no joke. There is a Sauna World Championship held every year for, you guessed it, the person who can sit in the sauna the longest. Timo Kaukonen, the former champ, regained the 2009 title this year. Congratulations Timo! You were able to sit in a hot, steamy room for longer than anyone! No word on whether or not the “athletes” are required to sport awesomely thick mustaches, display well manicured chest foliage, and rock out a gold chain with the pointy male symbol. As far as I’m concerned though, the results are in question. They don’t steroid test.

On second thought, I’ll hold out for the Hot Tub World Championships.

Give It Away Now…Or Next Week

Here’s something pretty cool: I’ll be giving you all a chance to win something next week. That’s right, a GIVEAWAY in which I will, well, give away a prize. And not just any old prize. A prize who’s value is, well, valued in triple digits! (No, smart ass, that doesn’t include the cents portion.)

I bet you’d like to know what the prize is? You’ll have to wait. I’m a prize tease and this mention is just serving as an interest fluffer.

I bet you’d like to know what you have to do to win the unnamed prize? I’m in a bit of a moral quandary on this one. One the one hand, I could just be fair and do a random drawing. On the other hand, I have this idea….But if I go through with it, it might end up with me being labeled an “internet predator” and you feeling ashamed and humiliated and wondering why you are surrounded by farm animals, midgets in cowboy hats, and a car battery with jumper cables.

I guess I’ll decide after next week’s track work. If that goes well, you are in luck. If not, prepare to degrade yourself, prizewhores.

Happy trails.

A hot, shirtless tempo run last night as half marathon preparations continue.

10.0 miles
1:09:50 time
6:59 pace

And then post run - my favorite - off to the buffet for The Refattening! Mmmmmm...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Gateway Drug

That first mile.

At some point, each of us made the decision to slide on some cotton socks, slip on our cotton t-shirt, grab our walking shoes (because they’ll be good enough to run in right – I’m not serious about this after all), tie up the laces and hit the road. No Garmin. No iPod. No pace per mile plan. Nowhere for the sweat to go but – gasp! - cling to your shirt. Hell, not even thinking - or knowing - about a fartlek.

Rookies. So young. So naïve.

The first mile is always free. You’re trying something new, fresh, and fun. You’ll just do it once to see how it feels. You aren’t going to turn into that weird guy you see running everywhere around town. You pass him on the way to the grocery store. The next day, you see him on the way home from work The guy with the head and armbands, shirtless with the split side running shorts exposing a little too much of his thigh and completely soaked in sweat. These are family streets after all. Cover yourself!

But you felt pretty good after that first run. That first mile left you tired but thrilled. The adrenaline rush! Your heart was pounding. You wanted more but you knew your body couldn’t take it. At least, not right now.

Feeling a little guilty, you made quiet plans to do it again. To give into the urge. But you need better equipment. Those shoes won’t do.

So you sought out the local dealer specializing in running shoes. You felt safer with their products and expertise. They were friendly. Happy to see you. They offered you a first timers discount.

With your new shoes, you did another mile and felt even better. It was a little easier this time but the thrill was just as strong. You did another mile a few days later too.

In fact, over the next few weeks you did it as much as you could. You even smiled and waved to another, more experienced running addict as you passed. Kinship. There are others like you. This doesn’t have to be your little secret.

You return to the local running apparel dealer. You realize that the cotton t-shirts are making you look like an amateur, a rookie. You buy some moisture-wicking shirts. Some moisture-wicking socks. Shorts to hold your house key and, maybe, a few dollars in case you go a little farther away from home. But you don’t get the side split shorts that are attached only by a little thread at the hip. You aren’t that into it. It’s just for fun after all.

You are getting adventurous now but you tell yourself that you can quit at any time.

The local running apparel dealer tells you about a race. A 5k. The dealer, with his big wide toothy grin, convinces you that you can do it. As you fill out the race form, you get the vague notion that the dealer’s friendly smile has turned into a sinister sneer and that he’s trying to suppress a cackling, finger tent pitched laugh with hell fire shooting up over his shoulders.

You show up at the start line of that first race a little scared. The other runners in the starting den look more experienced. But happy. Everyone is talking and laughing together except for the real sick addicts at the front of the pack who sprint out and then return to the start line area to do some high knee kicks and then sprint out a few steps again. They are serious. No one talks to them. They are hooked and beyond help.

The 5k was a blast of fun! You didn’t know you could do it but, as you crossed the finish line, you realized you were further along with running than you thought. This realization both scares and thrills you.

You keep returning to your local running dealer for more supplies. And more races. 5k’s, 10k’s, 15k’s, your dealer has everything you need to make it happen. You are going longer now. More miles. More joy. More pain. One little mile just doesn’t cut it anymore.

You get to know the creepy guy with the split side running shorts by name. He’s at every race. You’ve started to pass each other when out on runs. You realize he’s not much different than you. Just an old pro at this game with a few more miles.

You begin to realize that you can’t quit running. At least, not cold turkey. You love it too much. You love the feeling it gives you. You even welcome the pain and soreness. But maybe you can cut back on the miles. Gain control over this thing before it gets out of hand.

And then the running dealer mentions a half marathon with a little sparkle in his eye.

Can you do it? Yes, you can. You do. And it feels euphoric. The medal draped around your neck is a monument to your determination and resolve. It hangs proudly in your home. You no longer hide your addiction. You wear your race shirts everywhere. Everyone refers to you as “the runner.” And it makes you a little proud.

Then, a marathon. Several marathons. You are too far gone. There’s no turning back. You’ve purchased the split side running shorts. You recognize the same cars passing you on every one of your runs as you go by the grocery store or go out for an after work run. At each race, you find yourself closer and closer to the front of the pack now. Closer to the serious guys bouncing and sprinting and too far gone.

You’ve even begun to recruit others. You’ve brought your wife, your kids, your friends and neighbors in to see the local running apparel dealer. For some, they’re hooked immediately. Others resist the urge. Always, the dealer is super friendly and smiles widely as they try on shoes. He casually mentions an upcoming 5k planting the seed to the addiction.

It doesn’t stop for you. You can’t quit. You no longer try. You schedule your life around long runs. More races. More marathons. You even entertain the idea of an ultramarathon. Can you do it? Your local running dealer says you can. He knows you can and he has everything you need to make it happen.

It all started with that innocent little first mile. Then it spiraled out of control.

And you’re so glad it did.

Happy trails.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Sky is Falling

Mother Nature is pissed.

Despite what you all think, my ego isn’t so large that I believe the sun actually revolves around me. Of course not. There’s no way I have that type of magnetic pull. Sure, I have heaps of “animal magnetism”* for the pure, raw sexuality I exude but that’s not the same as celestial magnetism. At best, the sun looks over its shoulder at me for general directional queues. But revolve around me? Ridiculous!

That being said, I don’t think Mother Nature approves of all the anti-tree talk on this blog these days. I make a harmless little remark about an Oak tree being a poor parent….followed by a lengthier discussion about the gleeful amputation of tree limbs and next thing you know this appears on the Associated Press wire…

Tree Branch Kills Philadelphia Jogger

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 6) -- A woman jogging in a Philadelphia park has been
killed by a falling tree branch just days after a similar incident in New York's
Central Park left a man comatose.

Police say it was a freak accident that killed the woman Wednesday
evening in Fairmount Park, one of the biggest parks in the world.

Chief Inspector Scott Small says a 30-foot-long branch fell on the
woman from 50 feet above. He says she was killed instantly.

Police say it's possible the unidentified woman didn't hear the branch
breaking because she was wearing a portable music player, which was still
playing when they arrived.

On July 29, a Manhattan computer engineer walking to work through
Central Park was hit on the head by a 100-pound rotted tree branch. His mother
said over the weekend he was getting better.

Everyone look out, the trees are attacking runners! (Note to AP, we don't go by "joggers.") Not only do we have to keep an eye out for pot holes, for bees, dogs, and sharks, now we need to start looking…up? The hell? As a runner, the one thing I’ve always taken for granted is that the tree limbs will remain suspended in air above me as I pass underneath and now, no more? A moisture wicking hard helmet may just become the new runner’s fashion rage.

Consider yourself forewarned. Ever since reading this article, I’ve returned from all of my runs with a bad case of taco neck. I’m craning my head up and down the entire way as if I’m watching a vertical tennis match. No potholes down here; No tree limbs falling up there. And repeat. The biggest mortality concern for a runner has always been heart issues not falling lumber. Let’s face it, death by tree should be an occupational hazard exclusive to tree barbers and homeless park squatters.

I apologize for this whole thing. I don’t know how long Mother Nature will rage. I remember a few years ago I made a similar crack about the wimpy midget waves rolling in from the ocean and then – BOOM! - hurricane Katrina.

Take care to look up when you run as well as straight ahead and down. I don’t want to see any of you on the next episode of When Trees Attack.

Like Katrina, this too shall pass. Then, we can try to figure out why the rainstorms this year have been so particularly weak. I’d hardly even call it “rain.” More like a “cooling mist.” I make harder rain when I spit on the sidewalk…

Happy trails.

* Judging by the number of people that call me animal names such as “jackass” and “pussy” (cat – implied), and “shit for brains” (some form of sheep?), I must have tons of animal magnetism. (Though, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what phylum “butt muncher” belongs to?)

Fast Feedback from recent posts:

I did not attend my 20 year reunion. I do not regret it.

Some of you tried to correct my quote from the 5k race report about dividing a race into three parts and running the first with your head, then personality, then heart. Seems some of you thought the second one should be "legs." The actual quote - from Mike Fanelli - exists here (#23 along with some other good ones) so you can judge for yourself. Scoreboard= Me 1, You 0.

However, none of you - except one lonesome emailer - bothered to point out that James Dean wasn't the one who famously uttered "whaddya got?" in response to "What are you rebelling against, Johnny?" It was Marlon Brando from The Wild One. If I can't count on you people to edit me, we are really in trouble here. Step your game up! Scoreboard= Me 1, You 0, One Emailer with a Shape Eye 1.

Hot and sticky 7 miles (neutered down from a planned 10) on Sunday due to the humidity. Kept on pace but paid for it with sweat. Literally. 7 miles @ 7:02 pace. Tonight, 5x800 below 2:50 pace.

Friday, August 07, 2009

20 Years? Not Enough

Believe it or not, my 20 year high school reunion is tomorrow. I know, I know, I don’t look that old. What’s my secret? I’ll never tell. I still look reasonably fresh faced and bepimpled for my age judging by the regularity for which I get carded buying my weekly inebriants despite being 17 years past the legal limit. I think the Ex-Lax should give it away but the cashier probably just thinks I’ve found a new accelerant to enhance my next rave experience.

I guess this is the time I should be nostalgic: Homecoming, Prom, the mean ole vice principal’s house. I would be nostalgic, I guess, but I never did any of those things. I spent my high school years James Deaning it. Had you played along back then and asked me, “What are you rebelling against, Nitmos?” I’d have said, “Whaddya got?” Of course, I’m not comparing myself to James Dean (I’ll let him do that.) He had a Porsche Spyder; I drove a Mercury Zephyr (sans power steering and requiring a foot out of the car to rock it back and forth when moving out of Park on any incline.) Tomatoes, to-mah-toes.

I attribute this non-participatory attitude to the nomadic, serial moving we did as a family. A couple of different homes prior to kindergarten, several more during elementary school, a couple of middle schools (junior high), before finally landing on one final stop at one high school. By then, the whole ‘whipping up a new posse’ thing had gotten a bit tired so I shrugged my shoulders, yawned, ruffled my mopish hair and counted the days until college. And then read lots and lots of books while dreaming of all the keg beer I’d drink. (Ed. note: Dream fulfilled!)

So, I don’t really know the people I graduated with. Here we are in all of our shaggy haired, John Hughes (born in Lansing, MI by the way) character imitating, Guns-N-Roses lovin’ glory. I’m in there somewhere but I have no idea where. Probably the dude with hair draped over his eyebrows looking disinterested and mildly annoyed. I vaguely recall being on the right hand side of the picture but my memory may be a mirror so who knows? Can you find me? If so, please let me know.* Seriously.

Click to enlarge

It’s a fairly large graduating class. At the time, we were one of the largest classes in the state as this district in northern Michigan - besides the local “city” kids – seemingly bussed in every farm boy from two counties over. Imagine my surprise then when the invitation for the reunion provides the locale as a local, medium sized Irish restaurant. Really? You’re going to get that class (look above) into that restaurant (think Applebees.)

I must not be the only one not going. Twenty years later, I’m only about 5 lbs heavier than my graduation weight. Young Nitmos, from that photo, had never even considered running a marathon. He was busy cultivating a Revolver era Beatles look and wondering why the roll on anti-perspirant couldn’t hold back the flood of underarm sweat that saturated his shirts by second period every day.

It’s kinda fitting, I think, for me to be anonymous and lost in that photo. Everyone in it seems like a stranger anyhow. I don’t think I’d recognize myself if I’d see me. A lot can happen in twenty years. Almost all of it for the better. Certainly my pace per mile kicks greater ass today. You try being a non-participatory, self described "rebel" with a daily uniform of week ripe jeans, non-moisture wicking t-shirts, loafers (no socks) and a horrible taste for hair metal bands (and Huey Lewis) and see what that does to your 5k time.

As fate would have it, I happen to be traveling back up to my home town tomorrow. The kids are staying at their grandparents and need retrieving. Even though I’ll be in town and even though I know when/where the event will take place and have nothing else to do, I won’t be going. I feel more nostalgic towards the 35,000 strangers I ran my first marathon with rather than my graduating class. Twenty years is a long time but, for me, not long enough.

I’ll just assume that everyone is 20-50lbs heavier, growing hair in spots other than the top of the head, lying about their career, and beaten down by stress from kids, marriage, career, retirement plans, the death of John Hughes and the recent flopped release of Chinese Democracy and save myself $80. Sound good?

I wonder if the 2006 Chicago Marathon runners will want to meet at an Irish pub in twenty years to celebrate and run the 2026 Chicago Marathon?

Now that would be a reunion I wouldn’t miss.

Happy trails.

* I’m telling you right now that I am not the exuberant fellow on the far right that is jumping up with arms extended as if he just had his name called on The Price Is Right. Also, as a curious side note, in this photo somewhere – and my graduating class – is the young man who would make national news by dying from heart failure at the infamous heat stroked 2007 Chicago Marathon. R.I.P. There is a memorial race in his honor.


Behold the majesty of a well executed Limbo Run:

6.5 miles @ 6:46 pace

Miles: 7:09, 7:03, 7:00, 6:51, 6:37, 6:19, 2:59 (@5:57 pace)! Limbo!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Itch

I’ve got that itch again. Not the kind that requires a regimen of penicillin to cure (been there, done that.) The marathon itch.

I don’t think I’m getting the proper amount of abuse in my diet. The speed work hurts sometimes but it’s over quickly. You barely work up the beginnings of a good hate and regret and then it’s done. And you’re happy again. If you’re lucky, you might get to wipe some puke spittle from your chin after a grueling session but that doesn’t even take but a second.

No, I need some deeper, longer pain. The kind that throbs down to the bone hours after you’ve finished your run. The kind that makes you question whether or not it was all worth it. To wonder what it would be like to never have to move again. To look longingly at your neighbors in their lawn chairs watching their sprinklers with an umbrella topped lemonade in their hands while you stumble by 15 miles into a sweat drenched long run.

I have a half marathon on the schedule for September and - if I could find one – I’d like to do another in November. But those are only half marathons. That’s like scratching an itch with someone else’s hand. It never quite hits the spot (though it can lead to the penicillin. Been there, done that.)

No, I need some longer miles. More pain. More fatigue. I’m trying to hold out until next April and the 2010 Boston Marathon but it’s hard, man, and I need - I need - the abuse. I’ve capped my weekend long runs in the 8-10 mile range for the last three months. Now I know how it feels to be a stomach stapled fat guy presented with a buffet. It looks like you could eat the whole thing but there are these restraints

I have so much energy lately that I’ve been pruning tree limbs all over my yard with a hand saw and, occasionally, a broom stick just to make it last longer. I climb up like a v.d. crazed spider monkey and make life/death decisions on the limbs based on texture, aesthetic appeal and sometimes taste and then hack away howling with delight. But these arborescent appendage amputations only provide temporary relief from the ever present Itch.

There is a pile of severed limbs in my yard. I haven’t had the desire to break them down and remove them. I’m a collector. I collect my amputated trophies like a cathouse client collects pharmaceutical bills (been there, done that.) What I really want to collect is miles. Long run miles.

I might start scratching the Itch. We’ve always been told that if you scratch it, it only makes it worse. But I need the abuse. I need the long run miles. I have herpes simplex run. The penicillin won’t cure it (this time.)

Time to run long.

Besides, my trees look like telephone poles now.

Happy trails.

Lest you think I have abandoned the SOS2 know that Tuesdays and Saturday will remain speed work days with the focus on 5k and and 10k preparation. I'll probably take one more stab at each before fall settles in. Thursday and Sunday will be half marathon prep days.

A warm, windy, humid night saw a last interval fade which I didn't fight. Managed 4 x 800 @ 2:52 pace average. Looking for 2:50 average. C'est la vie. I'll start adding an interval a week from here on out.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Honey Vacation Recap

I’m back, showered, and less lick able.

It was an interesting week. Have you ever spent 170 straight hours slathered in honey? It’s not as fun as you would think. By the third day, you really start to get sick of it. And the flies? God, the flies.

We spent the week in my home town of Traverse City, Michigan. We took the kids camping for three of the days. Camping Nitmos style (i.e. laptop, portable DVD players, near local restaurants and in-laws for the fam to avoid public park wart acquiring showers.) It was nice: Fires with hissing, barely burnable, rain soaked wood and the roar of jets from the nearby airport. Nobody experienced anything greater than a first degree burn. Camping sans skin grafts? A win!

I bemoaned my pathetic second mile from the Ele’s Race 5k for the first several days (race report updated with official numbers for posterity). Well, as much as one can with a mouth covered in gooey, sliding honey. My complaints would burst forth into a honey wrapped complaint bubble that would float two campsites down before popping and emptying into the ear holes of a pleasant looking family from Chicago that, before long, also began to wonder loudly about what the hell happened in mile two not really knowing why.

I didn’t seethe for long because the Traverse City Film Festival Costume 5k was the coming Saturday. Redemption would be at hand!

The film festival is in its 5th year now and starting to acquire some national name recognition. It’s attracting B and C level stars. Before long, it might even acquire a Friend or a Family Matter. Maybe Jon or Kate and plus or minus 3/8’s will make an appearance in the future? Mrs. Nitmos and I have attended 4 of the 5 years now and it is amusing just to watch the event unfold. It was started and is run by liberal Michael Moore. The vast majority of the filmmaker/stars present are liberals. But Traverse City is a staunchly conservative Midwestern town. The local business leaders and politicians – who would love to string Moore up from the nearest tree – all plug their noses, smile, and put their hands out for all the money he’s bringing into town for the week. Then bitch about the No Good Liberal for the next 51 weeks while they toss logs made of rolled up film festival money onto their fires during those cool fall days.

Mrs. Nitmos and I attended three films. We might have been the only two people not in either (1) a beard or (2) thick rimmed rectangular glasses.* We could only get tickets for the midnight showing each time which presented a problem. Normally in my daily routine, I’m drunk by 7 PM, passed out by 8 PM, and back awake but impersonating a police officer on the streets by 10 PM, and incarcerated to “sleep it off” Otis style by 11 PM. I’d have to hold off drinking until 10 or 11 in order to make the films.

First up was a sneak preview of the first two episodes from the new season of one of my favorite shows, Curb Your Enthusiasm, hosted by co-star and B leveler Jeff Garlin. Afterwards, Garlin hung around to answer questions from the audience and, in turn, be harassed by a star struck, stalker woman waving a stick of cheese at him (he made a bad film called Someone To Eat Cheese With) and holding a copy of Daddy Day Care for him to sign. What a freak.**

Then, we hit the midnight showings for future classic films Asshole (a short film, non-puckered) and Registered Sex Offender. And then cool, black rimmed rectangular spectacle wearing director appeared on stage to let us know he barely had enough time to discuss the film because he’s too busy creating another masterpiece in complete anonymity. RSO was good though. But no masterpiece. Not enough honey.

And then it was time for redemption: the very first ever TCFF Costume 5k! They want to make it a Breakers style crazy costume run focusing on fun and costumes rather than speed. Which, to me, spells: A Chance For A Win! Information was extremely sparse on the event. It was only a few days before hand that I found out it would start at 8 PM. I even inquired at the film festival box office for further details but could get nothing more than a hand written sticky note telling me where it started, that the person running it “wasn’t very good”, and that they didn’t expect very many people oh and by the way if you want to join please write down your credit card information and we’ll have it floating around the office here for future generations to see and read and use. "No way", said the guy with a public blog in which he reveals too much about himself.

So, I didn’t join.

But I did watch. Oh, yes, I watched. I watched as the leader and winner – on a course I’m pretty sure was less than 3 miles – came through in about 17:20. And then I watched and watched and twiddled my thumbs and started kicking myself in the ass as the second place guy came through in just a shade under 20 minutes?!? Fuck. Why didn’t I sign up? As it turns out, they had bibs, timing chips, a nice finish crowd, water, Oscar style awards for every finisher, basically, everything you want in a race. And a slow field to boot. Fuck. Turned out, there were about 100 runners and many wearing pretty creative costumes (my favorite: the group of 8 dressed as William Wallace and company from Braveheart and shouting FREEEEDOMMM! through the streets.)

Next year, my friends, next year. I will be there. The theme for next year’s vacation has already been determined. It’ll be Strawberry Jam week. Together, with Mrs. Nitmos’ consent, we’ll run in that costume 5k. She doesn’t know it yet – until she reads this – but she’ll be covered in peanut butter. We’ll be peanut butter and jelly.

Happy trails. I’ll catch up with you all soon.

* Though I was the only person slathered in honey and sticking to the theatre chairs.
** Who am I kidding? It was me.