Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Lunch Runner

First, a brief note on the post title. It is a more clever – and possibly more accurate? – play off the best seller titled The Kite Runner. I wouldn’t call it an homage to that title. More like an improvement. Waiting for my call from Oprah. And a future VH1 Where Are They Now? special. Movie rights? Yes, please.

Today, I’m going to be ‘that guy’. Not the guy with the unshaven face, permanently congealed to Adidas wind pants, walking the dog at all hours of the day. The guy everybody assumes doesn’t have a job and what a lazy sack of llama dung he must be and why does his lovely wife put up with him. And how many days in a row now has he worn those same gray wind pants and maroon sweatshirt?

I’m already THAT guy.*

No, I’m going to be that other guy. The guy running at noon. When others are racing to pick up their McDonald’s fat burger before their lunch hour expires, they’ll pass a certain hirsute runner knocking out a few miles. They’ll think ‘man, I really shouldn’t eat this Mickey D’s’ as they view my majestic stride and mesmerizingly taunt pecs that bounce once – for that is all they need to release their kinetic energy** in one quick snap out the nipple tops – with every foot fall. They’ll shove delicious salty French fried num nums into their holes and console themselves with the incorrect conclusion that, ‘sure, it’s easy for that guy to run. He’s unemployed. He’s one step up from a bum.’

My filly has already called me a hobo. Did I mention this? True story. My first day working from home, in fact. We were heading out the door for the drive to school and she viewed my whiskered chin (that may or may not have had a Frosted Flake shard caught in the lower southeastern quadrant), assemblage of mismatched, well-worn casual wear, and complete lack of time-angst anxiety on my face and innocently asked, “Dad, are you a hobo now? Cuz hobos don’t have jobs.”

I laughed (and immediately decided not to stoop down to retrieve the half-smoked menthol cigarette butt from the sidewalk – what a waste, right?) and explained to her the complex corporate financial maneuverings that led to the path in which daddy doesn’t shave or shower anymore. I’m not unemployed…I’m just de-officed, I concluded. She smiled – what a sweet condescending smile – and asked to be dropped off two blocks from school. Which was fine. I had kicked a rock next to the cigarette butt in an effort to conceal it during my corporate dynamic dissertation and was eager to retrieve it. Another bewindpanted Dad was walking his dog with a full beard (!) in the area at the time and that unemployed sonofabitch was not going to get it if I could help it.

Soon I’ll be lacing up for my inaugural lunch run. I’ll run by offices. I’ll run across busy intersections with folks hurrying to various business appointments. I’ll run by schools where my filly’s friends will ask ‘Is that your dad?’ and she’ll respond ‘No, that’s just some hobo I think.’ I’ll smile and wave as she turns and cries in humiliation.

I’ll do five or six miles. Just long enough to load up 15-20 emails to my Inbox. I’ll return sweaty and satisfied with full intentions to shower. But I better check the emails first. One leads to another and another and, before long, the sweat has dried and the nostrils don’t even recognize the stank. What’s the point of cleaning up now? Time to pick up the kids from school.

Back into the wind pants. Another day done.

I’m the lunch runner. I have a job though it doesn’t appear that I do. I exist in my own little world adjacent, but isolated, from everyone else….from normal societal hygiene customs. There are two types of people in the world: Those that wear wind pants to work and everyone else.

The lunch runners wear the wind pants. We may look and smell like hobos but we are not. We run on our lunch hour because we can. We don’t shower afterwards because we don’t have to.

I’m THAT guy.

Happy trails.

* I was explaining my new home-work dynamic to another soccer dad at my son’s practice the other day and he said “I wondered why you haven’t been shaving.” Yes, yes, it has begun.
** You loose pec'ed, slow nippled folks would require 3-4 bounces at a minimum.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Summer of Speed II Post Mortem

Seeing as the fall leaves are committing suicide by the handfuls outside my window leaving my lawn looking like a scene from Jonestown, I guess I should take the time to wrap up my Summer of Speed 2 (SOS2). At least, before it snows.

Now I have an awful habit of making fun of things that should not be made fun of. This might explain why I’m sitting in my home working by myself in a job that requires very little actual human interaction. Isolation! Maybe it’s not a coincidence. So, before we go any further, I promise not to fill this post full of off color Jonestown references. Not Guyana do it.

I am here to review my Summer of Speed 2 goals set back in May when a big, wide, never-ending world of summer was at my doorstep. The summer was my fartlek. I’d pet it and feed it and dress it up in funny sailor outfits and walk it around with a big red balloon and an ice cream cone. You know, normal stuff.

Now, as I look back at my goals and results, I have a sweet but slightly acrid and burning taste in my mouth. Like I just drank some Cherry Kool-Aid with….never mind.

Results? Mixed.

Rhetorical questions? At least one more.

Numbers? Of course, numbers:

SOS2 Goals:

5k goal: 18:00
10k goal: 40:00 (and run my first one ever!)
Half-Marathon goal: 1:29 (and competitively race my first one ever!)

Recorded Times:

5k result: 18:22 (new PR but goal not met) FAIL
10k result: 40:24 (auto PR but goal not met) FAIL
Half-Marathon result: 1:28:53 (auto PR) PASS!

I realize those big red FAILs make the results look very Viperian in nature. But, I have to be honest. I set a PR in all three distances (two are auto PR’s though) but did not meet my goal in 2 of the 3. If I’m allowed one more rhetorical question, why?

[Serious paragraph portion of this post]
FAILure resulted from trying to reach two many disparate goals all at the same time. My training got a bit muddled as one run I was working on my 5k speed, the next run had me focused on the half-marathon, and a third run had me fartleking like a motherfartleker for no obvious reason. I think I stretched myself too thin (something that, if you knew me, would seem impossible) trying to obtain three unique goals all at once. My half-marathon goal was met. I believe my 10k goal would be in serious jeopardy if I ran one again tomorrow (the only result was from May just after announcing the SOS2) judging by leg #2 (6.2 miles) of the Detroit Marathon relay which saw me finish in 39:55 after a 6 mile “warm-up.” However, can’t count it. The point is, the only goal I still don’t feel good about is the 5k goal of sub 18 minutes. Attempting to go from 18:30 to below 18 minutes on only one day of speed work a week was a bit unrealistic. I’m smack dab in the middle of the Laws of Diminishing Returns when it comes to running. I don’t see big improvement gains any more. Instead, the time rock moves only a small amount and only after much straining and grunting and 2-4 sports hernias. I’ll take the PR and keep working at it with the realization that, for a 38+ year old dude with a full time job, two kids, and the weight of being Handsome in America weighing on his shoulders, it may take awhile to get there.
[/End serious paragraph portion of this post]

I’ll spend the winter going over my SOS2 strategy detailed in my patented 22 step process LQ8TMLRARMEMCATMGFMRRK. Maybe I missed a step? I don’t remember fighting a bear (step #18) but I did get into a slap fight with an ornery blue jay. Could that be it?

It’s grade time. Last year I received Pi. This year, a Lethal Weapon 2.

Mildly successful but ultimately forgettable

Until next year, consider the SOS complete. I may still jump into a race before the end of the year (I got my eye on a pretty little 10k in early December, for example.) In 2010, I may need to mix up my training regimen to re-energize my summer. A whole new paradigm to inject some life in this stale format. Something like…SOS3???

Yes, I’ll keep drinking the Kool-Aid until F.M.S. is stiff as a board.

Happy trails

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hellbus! Mrs. Nitmos Wins!

The Detroit Marathon Relay Race Report

Bottom line: Detroit did!

Things have been moving in a weird other worldly time warp around here. Officially, I am “working” from home. How perceptive of you to notice the qualifiers attached to “working”. (See, there they are again!) Unofficially, my “work” consists of me tidying up the basement, building a cheap Sauter brand desk, running my TV cable lines (priority!), and exhausting at least two cans of Lysol all over the strange oozes along the floor trim which I’m pretty sure contain the swine flu origins. At least, when I dabbed my finger into it and tasted it, it sure tasted like the swine flu. A lot like chicken. And now, my index finger, tongue and bottom lip have herpes. Is that a symptom?

This past Sunday, me, my brother, a friend and the lovely Mrs. Nitmos took to the streets of Detroit for a run. Now, it’s not unusual to run while on the streets of Detroit. That’s often how it’s recommended that you get from point A to point B on the city tourist guide. However, this was for a relay race.

Here’s the team breakdown: me, my friend (a one time marathoner but multiple time 5k and 10k’er), my brother (first race ever – didn’t train any further than 2 miles and not since July), and Mrs. Nitmos (first race ever and – despite a hip injury – was able to get in good training.) You may recall that our fifth relayer had to pull out when he selfishly shoved his face into an ATV dash and tree while tossing his co-riding daughter to the side to save her from injury. Jerk. Hope your selfish ribs and selfish broken jaw heal.

We knew we’d finish but were not too optimistic of a top time. Not that it mattered. Since we were in the “Open Mixed” category which requires three penises and two uteruses (at a minimum), we were expressly told that we could participate but not place. As a team, we were one uterus short of official qualification.

Legs 1 & 2: 12.2 miles (Me)
Leg 3: 6.6 miles (Friend)
Leg 4: 3.0 miles (Mrs. Nitmos)
Leg 5: 4.4 miles (Brother)

The great thing about a relay is sharing the event with friends and family. But, unlike other relays where everyone piles into a sweatlodge magic bus filled with stank and communicable diseases, this relay involved the team members taking separate buses to their assigned leg start and then waiting patiently with strangers for their teammate to arrive. You really only see your teammate in passing. And through the magic of cell phones.

I must admit that I lucked out. The first two legs are the most scenic: over the bridge into Windsor with the oddly beautiful sight of downtown Detroit off on your left*, through cheering Canadians**, and then back into Detroit by way of the underwater tunnel, around Joe Louis arena, and up into Corktown to Michigan Avenue arriving back near the finish line area for the leg #3 exchange. No bus ride for me!

I had put 4 hours down as our expected finish time – anticipating someone else taking the first leg – which placed me in a pace group at the start going a bit slower than I wanted. After the bridge bottle neck, I had a lot of time to make up in order to make my goal of 7 minute miles. Here are the splits for your perusing boredom:

Mile 1: 7:23 (Not too bad but lots of side to side running around people)
Mile 2: 7:18
Mile 3: 7:56 (Bottle neck as we smash together into one lane for the bridge on ramp)
Mile 4: 7:41 (I’m dying inside…get me over this bridge!!)
Mile 5: 6:13 (Off the bridge and flying down the off ramp in Canada)
Mile 6: 6:40
Mile 7: 6:37
Mile 8: 6:20 (Underwater tunnel!)
Mile 9: 6:20 (Around Joe Louis arena)
Mile 10: 6:26 (Lots of time to make up…get on your horse!)
Mile 11: 6:36
Mile 12: 6:28
Last ½ mile: 2:58 (6:00 pace!)

Officially: 12.2 miles in 1:24:56 (around 6:58 pace)

My Garmin recorded 12.5 miles instead of 12.2. Part of that was probably due to the side to side weaving through traffic.

Friend kept the momentum going and knocked out his 6.6 miles at goal pace (just under an hour) then handed off to Mrs. Nitmos.

The unfortunate part of our leg assignments was that I would not see Mrs. Nitmos on the course. (Fingers crossed for a photographer on her leg!) She completed her 3.03 miles (according to mapmyrun) at goal pace of 10 minute miles! A huge accomplishment for her as she’d never run at all prior to a couple of months ago.

After three hours of waiting, my brother, who had read the newspaper front to back at least three times by then, took the hand off from Mrs. Nitmos. Unbeknownst to her, the adventure was just beginning.

Through all of the exchanges, we kept in touch by phone. I waited at the finish sipping nice warm coffee (it was 29 degrees at the start but warmed to about 40 by the time our last relayer took the exchange) and watching overall winners come in. Friend had just arrived back at the finish when I received word that Mrs. Nitmos was on the bus heading back. I was settling in for a 20 minute wait for Brother to bring us home when….

Brother comes heading into the home stretch! Holy shit we are ahead of schedule. He finishes. We are altogether…except for Mrs. Nitmos.

Where is she?

Turns out, she’s on Hellbus. The driver took them for a spin on the highway completely lost. They should not have been on the highway. Then, back in town, couldn’t find the drop off zone. He’s refusing to open the doors a few blocks away from the finish and is instead circling and circling Detroit searching for the drop zone with an increasingly agitated group of runners who are, by the minute, receiving phone calls from their team that they have missed the finish. Time goes by. Phone calls are made. Mrs. Nitmos informs me that a near melee is breaking out on the bus. People are yelling at the bus driver and threatening him with physical abuse. An hour has gone by (the bus had to drive no more than 3 miles.) I can hear the shouts in the background of our phone conversation and I’m getting a bit concerned for Mrs. Nitmos. She tells me people are pounding on the bus windows whenever they see a street cop to try to get some help to GET THEM OFF THE DAMN BUS. Threats are made. A stabbing seems eminent.

Finally, the bus driver defies his radio bosses orders and opens the door. He tells his boss that he’s afraid for his safety and he’s letting people off. He never did find the drop zone.

We reunite with Mrs. Nitmos.

Despite the Hellbus experience, Mrs. Nitmos seems to have enjoyed the event. The team is thrilled. We ended with these numbers:

Steers Long Distance Project

Time: 3:36:50
Place: 18th(!) of 244 in Open Mixed; 66th of 629 of ALL relay divisions

I’m very proud of Mrs. Nitmos. Hopefully, she’ll consider doing another relay in the future! Considering we had two first time runners, this went about as well as we could have hoped.

Except for the bus ride.

Happy trails.

* Detroit is pretty cool the more you squint at it.
** “Looking good, eh!”

Obviously, I am aware of the 3 fatalities that day. Though I didn’t know any of the people who died, some other parents from my son’s soccer team did know one of the gentlemen. And though I finished near mile marker 12 at nearly the same time as one of the fatalities was occurring at this same location, I did not see or hear about any of it until much later in the day.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Mrs. Nitmos Does Detroit

I have to admit, this post title is a little more provocative than I intended. But I knew that you, the notoriously slack-jawed F.M.S. reader, would never make the connection so I let ‘er rip. Folks, hate to disappoint, but there is more to life than nose-picking, lottery tickets, 40 ouncers of malt liquor, vague references to 70’s era porno and this blog. Expand your horizons. There’s a whole series of vampire themed books out there. And vampire themed movies. And vampire themed TV shows. Cartoons. Anime. Merchandise. Oh, and vampire themed Halloween costumes. See? Lots of stuff.

My one and only first wife, Mrs. Nitmos, is part of our Detroit Marathon (Oct. 18) relay team, the Steers Long Distance Project. We’ll be toeing the line 9 days from now in sunny (overcast) and beautiful (dilapidated) downtown (burnt out) Detroit (not Chicago)! Not only will Mrs. Nitmos be doing Detroit, the entire four person team will be doing Detroit! It’ll be a regular ole gang…never mind.

This will be Mrs. Nitmos’ first race ever and I’m pretty proud of her for putting in the training, overcoming a hip injury*, complaining about having to go for a run, but slavishly doing it anyway and sucking the enjoyment right out of the event. You’re a runner now, hon!

We’ve had a series of unfortunate events leading to this relay: One team member decided to violently push his face into the dashboard of his ATV just to experience broken ribs and a wired jaw. Selfish! After that, our five person team became four. And I became two people** as far as the relay is concerned. One relay member – a non-runner - is hoping to start his training soon so you can guess how his 4.4 mile leg might go. Mrs. Nitmos’ hip injury has finally healed. And then, to top it off, the Detroit Marathon folks made us all run out and buy passports, since the race goes briefly into Canada, and then subsequently (really, at the last possible minute before you would never get your passport in time for the race) decided that only the people actually running into Canada needed the passport. By then, our team had already shelled out the bucks amidst much grumbling about how much this relay was costing. Screwed for being pro-active!

Turns out, after all the musical chairs of leg assignments, I’m the only one that needed the passport as I’ll be doing the first two legs: into Canada over the bridge and back into the U.S. through the underwater tunnel for a total of 12.2 miles.

The thing I’m most excited about is the chance for Mrs. Nitmos to be part of a marathon event rather than waiting patiently for hours on end at a finish line. I’m hoping she gets the full experience: the cheering crowds, the wayward snot rocket, the adrenaline rush, the a-hole spectator who shouts “Almost there!” when you are no where close to being done, and, of course, the grabbing, painful calf cramp. Well, maybe not the calf cramp. I’ll save that just for myself. Apparently.

Though I tease Detroit – it’s an easy target after all – the race is actually pretty cool. And the city itself needs some sympathy. It’s like the punch drunk former champion with cauliflower ears and arthritic hands trying to rise off the mat before the 10 count. You can’t help but cheer it on.

The SDLP will be doing Detroit. Mrs. Nitmos will be doing the north end neighborhoods, specifically. All of us will be leaving with a satisfied smile on our face. After all, who knows if we’ll ever do it again. Who knows if Mrs. Nitmos will ever run another race? Probably not in Detroit anyhow.

Nobody wants sloppy...never mind.

Happy trails.

* Her first runner’s injury. Brought a tear to my eye like when you see your child take his first steps. Or when your favorite college team wins the Rose Bowl.
** This is actually a reduction for me as well since I generally consider myself having the “strength of 10 men.”


Good luck to all of the Chicago marathoners this weekend!!

I see many of you are envious that I'll be working from home from now on. One person asked about the fate of Cube Farter. I'll let him know you were concerned. Yes, me, Cube Farter, all of us will be going home to work. It wasn't just me that was evicted. I've already reworked the family budget to lower the amount spent on gas and shampoo but raise the amount spent on toilet paper and coffee. (Unless I can steal enough supplies before I leave...)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Hours turn to days; days to week; week to…more than a week. Where does the time go? My eyes have been hovering about two inches away from a bright, flickering computer monitor for the better part of three weeks now. My rods and cones are straining from exhaustion. My retinas have begun to detach themselves. I think I’m developing carpal tunnel for the first time since my teen years when Mary McHotty got that new mini-skirt. Work has been especially worky lately. It has gotten to the point where I’ve begun wearing a spelunker’s helmet on my off hours and redirected the light beam straight down into my eyes just to keep the pupils from dilating. I don’t want them going soft (and wide) on me now.

Every quarter end is particularly busy. I’m not an accountant though with the way I celebrate an unexpected $20 in the family budget you could be excused for thinking that. No, I’m one of the good guys.* My job facilitates people getting paid. Of course, those people are sometimes health insurance carriers or people with illness or terminal diseases but let’s focus on the positive. A $250 check in the mail always distracts one, at least temporarily, from renal disease. Or so I assume. I once won a free Coke from a bottle cap game and completely forgot about my foot blister so, extrapolating that out…

On top of all that, my company has EVICTED me from my plush, 6x6 neutral colored cubicle! In the frenzied quarter end rush, an e-mail BINGed into my e-box telling me to e-getthehellout. In two weeks.

I’m not fired. No, they made it pretty clear that the company has a place for someone with my squared jaw and ample shoulders. (I could tell they were implying this by their choice of the more angular Courier New text type for my email versus the others' Arial.) It’s just that this place is now at home. Or at a local coffee shop where I can be ‘that guy’ sitting at a table for 6 hours sipping a mocha latte and wearing a Bluetooth.

So, on top of finger flying, retina burning, blog depriving work, I’ve also got to pack up my cube, carve out a place at home – which for the time being will be my kitchen table – and move the hell out of the office. I’ve been evicted. My cube has been foreclosed (did you already read the footnote? Bankers are jerks, aren’t they?) I’ve spent the last two days shredding documents like former officials holding torture memos. These documents seemed important when they were at work and stored in my desk. Now that I need to carry them home? Funny. They don’t seem so important anymore.

And now I have to deal with working from home issues. I really don’t need to shower anymore. I can wear my boxer shorts and a t-shirt all day, all night, and all the next day again (and the day after that? Maybe.) Shaving? Not a chance. Deodorant will be optional. I’ll be sitting within feet of my running shoes. Lunch time runs are now a reality! I don’t even have to shower when I get back. I can simply call into my next meeting with salty sweat hardening to my temples like concrete freed from the tired old "non-offensive odor" and "wearing the same clothes on multiple days" social memes.

There are some real advantages to this. Oprah. Dr. Phil. Is Springer still on? I don’t know but I’ll soon find out!

I will miss the anal symphony Cube Farter performs for me every afternoon. But I can create one of my own now. I’ve learned my pinching techniques from the master.

Just me, my dog, my computer and phone, my boxers, my running shoes and no social customs or expectations hanging over my head.

This can’t end well.

Happy trails.

* Incidentally, with all the well deserved negative press health insurance companies are getting these days, let’s not forget who really wears the black hat in this struggling economy. Bankers. We shouldn’t forget about the economy-killing, panda-murdering bankers.