Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving The Whole Year

You know the story…it’s Christmas Vacation month here at F.M.S! The final installment:

Cousin Eddie: Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.
Clark: That it is Edward, that it is.

I hope your Christmas went swell. Mine didn’t involve nearly enough rum though I believe I made up for it by mainlining the box ‘o wine…for three days.* I would like to drift off into an alcohol induced haze somewhere around December 23rd only to wake up on the 27th underneath a pile of bills and my kids shaking products under my nose that require assembly. If only.

Is your Christmas day like mine? Are you forcibly awoken by a bedroom light, which at some point during the night was replaced with a police quality spotlight, beamed on at 6 am by on over eager 9 year old? Are you pulled downstairs to a gift scattered living room and morning calisthenics in the form of gift hurdling and pole vault (hiding)**? Do you weep silently underneath a pained smile as you watch all of these overpriced and unnecessary items unwrapped before your blurry, hung over eyes? Do you “accidentally” kick the dog on the way into the kitchen for more coffee because “someone’s going to be in as much pain as I am goddammit”?

Christmas Day! Welcome to hell. My day usually unfolds as follows:

- 6am: Wake up.
- 6:10: Unwrap presents.
- 7:00: Kick dog
- 7:05: Add a little something to the coffee to dull the edges and restore some holiday spirit.
- 7:10: Start assembling the first gift handed to me by one of my kids.
- 7:12: The first profanity of Christmas screamed over a stripped screw!
- 7:20: Search for batteries.
- 7:30: Second gift handed to me due to “some assembly required”.
- 7:31: Deep breath and another trip into the kitchen for daddy’s “special” coffee.
- 7:35: “Motherf*ckin’ screw won’t line up with the mother*ckin’ hole!”
- 7:37: The search for a 9 volt battery begins. Who uses 9 volts anymore?
- 7:40: The dog hides behind a chair.
- 7:45: I try to fake sleep on a chair but am woken up by another product being jabbed into my ribs that…requires assembly. It’s a big one too.
- 7:50: Screw the coffee. Bring Dad the Jack Daniels bottle. Quickly.
- 7:55: Assembly is not going well. Prison language. I’ve already threatened to “find out where the idiots who wrote these instructions live so I can jam this thing right up their asses.” It’s a Nitmos family tradition.
- 8:10: Fingers cut and bleeding from screw drivers and jagged, plastic toys.
- 8:13: “Where’s the goddamn batteries?”
- 8:20: “Look kids, no hands.” I pick up the Jack Daniels with my jaw and toss it straight up, drinking in big gulps while I clap my hands maniacally and then belch the bottle out on to the floor with whiskey pouring down my chin.
- 8:21: I fall back in the chair. Black out.
- 11:30: Shaken awake. My filly pushes a box that needs assembly into my booze soaked gut. I stare at it groggily looking for the entrance to hell.
- Repeat for the next several hours.

Okay, so maybe I exaggerate but the day seems to proceed somewhere along those lines. Once you become a parent – specifically, a father – Christmas Day becomes about three magical little words: Some Assembly Required. S.A.R. = code for The Gateway to Torment Lies Within. If you’re smart, you’ll learn to avoid these words at all costs.

But I do find time for happier thoughts as well. Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, I like to take the sore-ribbed dog on an exceptionally long walk so that I can escapereflect on the Year That Was. The last two weeks of every year for me are all about sloth and gluttony. And more sloth, more gluttony…and frosted, sprinkled Christmas cookies. Sometimes I combine the sloth and gluttony by napping on a pile of Christmas cookies. I applaud those of you doing Christmas Ass Buster challenges and other various ‘stay fit’ tricks. Nah, not for me. I try to stay in shape for 50 weeks out of the year. These last two weeks are all mine, baby. If it contains sugar or >5% alcohol, it goes down my gullet. No apologies. No questions asked. No guilt.

During the walk, I reflect on my yearly goals and what is in store for the New Year to come. I think about my physical fitness and how running helps me achieve those goals. I like jelly too but it doesn’t make a nice monthly gift despite what Cousin Eddie says. I’ll stick with my training plans and Gu diet.

Running is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year…starting January 2nd. Until then, hand me the rum, the remote, and a tub of frosting. That's the gift that keeps on giving during the holiday season.

That it is Nitmos, that it is.

Happy trails.

*Mt. Veeder Cabernet was this year’s selection.
**I’m still wearing my boxers which doesn’t go well with morning Mr. Peek-A-Boo. I don’t have a “pole” in the sense that you think I meant.

I don’t buy race photos anymore. I have enough pictures of me with a pained, grimacing face drenched in sweat. So, it was hard to find a photo to select as my official Race Photo for 2010. Here’s a picture before my half marathon PR from September. As usual, Mrs. Nitmos isn’t in the picture as she’s the one holding the camera. One of these times, we’ll ask someone else to take the photo.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas! Shitter Was Full!

You know the story…it’s Christmas Vacation month here at F.M.S!

Ellen: What are you looking at?
Clark: Oh, the silent majesty of a winter's morn... the clean, cool chill of the holiday air... and an asshole in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer...
Eddie: Shitter was full!
Clark: Ah, yeah. You checked our shitters, honey?

How could the final pre-Christmas quote be anything other than this?? It’d be criminal!

As this month has shown, there are many things to be learned from Christmas Vacation right down to this foul-mouthed one liner. No, it’s not that Randy Quaid really is crazy. Well, not just that anyhow.


This is a deep and meaningful piece of the C.V. masterpiece. In this scene, Cousin Eddie symbolizes the Everyman…the regular, non-elite struggling in quiet desperation against his own PR goals. Not all of his yearly goals were met. I doubt he drank all of the Meister Brau he had planned. He’s collected a year’s worth of successes and failures (and parole violations) that need to be emptied in order to start fresh next year. In short, his shitter was full. As Lance Armstrong said, ‘it’s not about the poop’ (or something like that). It’s a metaphor for how we carry around the weight of a bad training experience, an injury or a poor race performance. Heck, some of us even carry around low expectations of our own abilities. We internalize and walk around with this baggage until it bogs us down until we can’t move…like if our heads have been sewn to the carpet.

Our shitters are full this time of year. You don’t want to carry that into the New Year so that it keeps hanging around like an unidentified lip fungus.

Grab some Meister Brau, open the spicket, and let a year’s worth of shit drain away. New race schedules will be written! New training plans executed! New PR’s to set…and yes, new disappointments to refill the shitter along the way.

While you’re hanging your stockings, drinking heavily, wrapping presents, drinking heavily and…drinking heavily, don’t forget Cousin Eddie’s sage advice:


Like changing the smoke alarm batteries during Daylight Savings Time, Christmas is that time to check the shitters and reset mentally in preparation for a great 2011. If you learn one thing from the many wondrous, thought-provoking discussions we’ve had here at Feet Meet Street this year I hope it is this comment about shit. At the very least, I hope I brought a little profanity to your blog reading this fine winter day.

Merry Christmas To You and the Family!

Happy trails.

P.S. I’ll be back between Christmas and New Year’s for a final C.V. themed post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Tis The Season To Be Merry

You know the story…it’s Christmas Vacation month here at F.M.S!

Clark: 'Tis the season to be merry.
Mary: That's my name.
Clark: No shit.

It’s pretty amazing that I’ve made it nearly 13 years as a father without (a) the kids being taken to foster care or (b) me being led away with handcuffs over my strict “clean something for food” policy. I’m not saying I’m a bad husband and father, I’m just saying that Mrs. Nitmos and the kids get more sympathy than a partially squashed puppy gasping for air by the side of the road. Despite my best efforts, like flowers growing through a gravel pit, the kids have found a way to thrive anyhow.

But there are still those “some times” when I know a little bit of me has passed along in the genes.

Case in point: My 9 year old filly has the Christmas Crazies right now. And she has a lot of questions. Like any good Dad, I don’t actually answer questions. I remain vague and, if pressed, provide needlessly detailed circular logic that makes her so confused she’s afraid to ask a follow-up. One of the great joys of parenthood is pretending to know it all without actually doing or saying anything of value. You’ve read this blog…you know I’m good at that.

We are hurtling down highway 127 Sunday on our way home from the grandparents with a back end loaded with dirty clothes, a dog, and various dolls and Nerf guns. The radio is rocking holiday favorites by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Jackson Five, and Taylor Swift. I’m driving and wondering why I’m listening to a station that plays those songs. Clearly I’ve lost control.

In the middle of “White Christmas”, my daughter asks what Jesus’ last name is. (Ok, so right away you know we are not regular church goers. Don’t judge.) We provide the answer and breakdown the word Christmas for her.

She seems satisfied and looks out the window for a minute. Then, she speaks back up, “So what is God’s last name? Is it Damn?”

I smile proudly. My heart grew three sizes that day. God Bless Us One and All!

This 'tude knocked in 24 goals in 19 competitive league soccer games this fall!

Happy trails.

I see Ian wandered out of the desert (or dessert?) and tore open the shutters and threw up the sash of Half-Fast. And then changed his blog subtitle to include a poop joke. Stay classy! His comeback announcement came complete with references to LL Cool J and Culture Club. I suppose that foretells some upcoming posts about the new fitness fads he discovered called the “hula’ed hoop” and a “flying disc”. Stay current!

Still, this is my second favorite “comeback” of the year. Right behind the Backstreet Boys.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eat My Road Grit Liver Lips!

You know the story…it’s Christmas Vacation month here at F.M.S!

Clark: Let’s burn some dust here, eat my rubber!
Rusty: Dad, I think what you mean is “burn rubber” and “eat my dust”.
Clark: Whatever Russ, whatever. Eat my road grit Liver Lips!

A Case for Pre-Race Hotdogging

I love taunting a defeated opponent. I think it’s what separates us from the animals. A tiger just makes his kill and then settles in to eat. No prancing. No fingering miming of a pistol shoot-out at the corpse. No head bobbing moonwalk followed by a 180 turn into the splits, finger extended with the universal #1 sign. No wearing the antelope skin around like a robe. Nothing. A big sack of boring. That’s what makes us superior to animals. The day a tiger starts posing for sexy photos on his human skin rug is the day I’ll realize things have changed.

As a non-elite runner, I don’t have many chances to taunt defeated opponents. There’s way too many people that have already finished the race for it to look cool as I trot in backwards across the finish while cupping my hands to my mouth and shouting “C’mon, you can do it…keep on trying. Your effort is very cute.” I mean, I do that but it doesn’t look very cool what with the 100 or so runners already pulling on their sweat suits on the other side of the timing mats. No, it’s much better to get your cocky swagger on before you get to the finish.

Early hotdogger avoids the embarrassment, I always say.

Now some of you may be thinking that if you can’t back it up, why be so arrogant? Some of these runners are fast. Like tiger fast. And, yes, there’s a few elderly and/or sick antelope in the herd too but you can’t always tell which ones (though the fellas holding a CD walkman flat so that the disc won’t skip might be a give away).

It’s during warm-up and the slow corralling of runners before the race begins in which I’m at my cockiest. I strut around like a steroid fueled wrestler launching a verbal assault on the stretching racers:

“What do we have here? The JV? Where’s the varsity meet?”
“I’m still drunk from last night. Someone will need to get my first place trophy for me.”
“The real marathon follows this marathon right? Ok, let’s get the warm-up started.”
“I see one hungry lion and a bunch of antelope with moderate to severe hip dysplasia. ROAR!!”
“It smells like shit A LOT around here. Is this an outhouse convention and you are all the turds?”
“You can’t spell SUCKS without U!”

At this point, the runners probably think I’m all bluster and swagger but they probably don’t know for sure. I count on that. I mean, there is still the chance that I could be the guy who wins right? Usually no one responds before the race begins.

When the gun sounds, I take off fast just to deepen that seed of doubt. I might throw out a few “let’s burn some dust” or “eat my rubber” just to keep them off balance. Of course, eventually many, many folks pass me. Sometimes I get those smart-asses who pass me by with a “not talking tough now are you” comment as I grimace back at them in full mid-race limp and croak “someone get a doctor - I snapped my hamstring.”

Mostly, the runners pass me unnoticed as they’re too busy worrying about themselves and their own effort. I also count on that. By the time we reach the finish and the runners are collecting their medals or congratulating each other or reuniting with friends and family, I can high-step backward trot - on my miraculously healed hamstring - across the finish for one final hotdog to the few I might have beaten.

While the “winners” get their awards and everyone cheers, I quietly slink away. I’m a starting line champ…others can have the finish.

Occasionally, I may be spotted heading out to the parking lot and another smart-ass may sneer “that lion sure looks like an antelope to me.”

I just smile, “Whatever man, whatever.” And then mutter under my breath "Liver lips."

Happy trails.

For more hot Lion-Hunting-Antelope action, check out one of my favorite race recaps. It has blood!

I want to thank those that commented on my previous post for offering their opinion on my opinion about a controversial subject. All comments were welcome but I particularly enjoyed Thomas’ international take:

“As someone who has been self-coached for the last 6 years and recently got the offer of free coaching help, I can assure you that this post is full of shit. *Ever helpful* Love, Thomas”

I know Thomas is Irish so I had a difficult time interpreting due to the language barrier. I believe, if I’ve correctly translated, he was deploying an old Irish proverb that loosely translates to:

“Nitmos, once again you’ve hit the nail on the head! How did you get so smart? When will you be in Ireland so we can throw a party in your honor?”

I blush.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So Do Washing Machines

You know the story…it’s Christmas Vacation month here at F.M.S!

Frances: Talk about pissing your money away. I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this was.
Audrey Griswold: He worked really hard, Grandma.
Art: So do washing machines.

There is nothing more deflating than putting in the time and effort of training for the big race only to come up short of your goal on the race day. If you run and race long enough, you’ll experience both the thrill of PR’s and the disappointment of poor race performances. It’s part of being a self-taught, coach-less athlete. Races are mirrors that reflect back your preparation, strategy, and training. You may not like what you see but - and this is the important part - YOU own it.

When you plan smart, train hard, and execute on race day, there is no one to thank (besides your spouse and support crew – do NOT forget that) but yourself. You did the research. You put together the plan. You did the training. Finally, you ran the race. To me, this is the ultimate thrill. It’s me against the watch. Man vs. Machine. Or Man vs. Self? Someone call a philosopher.

If you’ve visited this corner of the internets before, you are familiar with my anti-coach diatribes for the amateur athlete. The number one reason I promote self-coaching is because of the feeling I get when I cross the finish line. When I look at that clock and realize that I just blew the doors off a PR, I’m overwhelmed with pride, happiness, and a deep feeling of accomplishment. My plan worked. I did this. Likewise, if the race doesn’t go to plan, who’s to blame? Well, the kids for one. And maybe that guy over there. And the snow and rain. And who measured this course? But deep inside, I know it’s all me. Something didn’t work with my training and preparation. There’s no one with which to transfer my success or blame. If I don’t like the post-race reflection, I need to analyze the image presented to find the flaws.

I think you earn a deeper, more meaningful appreciation of your self and the sport when you coach yourself. Now, I have nothing against those wanting to take the short cut by hiring a coach. That’s fine. Everyone chooses their own path. Certainly, competitive, semi-pro or pro runners would be expected to have a professional coach. But for the weekend warrior runner – the equivalent of the pick-up hoops guy or softball guy – why would you bypass the true joy found in the sport of running? I’ve learned more about myself through the trial-and-error process of preparing for races than I have through any other activity. It’s not about the miles; it’s about the journey of finding your own way.

Sure, like an old washing machine, I might clunk around for awhile working out the kinks in a training plan. I consult books, magazines, blogs, and fellow runners for tips. There’s a wealth of free information available to you at your fingertips. I follow the simple maxim “Listen to everyone; follow no one.” Sometimes I open the washing machine lid and the clothes are still full of soap. Sometimes the colors stained. And sometimes I left gum in my pocket.

It’s not enough to train hard. You must also train smart. Make adjustments. Check the mirror. Listen to your Inner Art but don’t let him have the last word. If you’ve hired a coach for some reason, listen to your Outer Art, in that case. But, please, don’t let the Outer Art rob you of your personal journey to your running goal.

Because sometimes the clothes come out of the old washing machine crisp and clean and perfect. And the only person to congratulate is the one staring at you in the mirror. That’s when you feel a deeper level of satisfaction!

Happy trails.

Sorry for the mixed metaphors of washing machines and mirrors. I couldn’t decide which so I said ‘why not go with both? They’ll never notice.’ And you didn't, did you?!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Little Lights Aren't Twinkling

I’ve decided to devote the remaining post titles in December to one of my favorite dysfunctional holiday movies of all time: Christmas Vacation. It’s the third in a 4 part odyssey of the Griswold family. The first one, Vacation, was okay. The second one, European Vacation, was a disappointment. And the final one, Vegas Vacation, was an abomination. But tucked in the middle of this supremely forgettable series was a little gem of a Christmas movie. It’d be like if Harold and Kumar made Harold and Kumar Go To The Hurt Locker right in the middle of their other two crappy films.

Of course, one of the main reasons I like it is because it’s ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. And I’m pretty sure you’re ridiculous too.* Besides, like The Godfather, there are life lessons abound sprinkled through-out the film. You learn how to fix a newel post, how to quickly replace a damaged Christmas tree, and the dangers of a plastic plate – instead of a metal one - in your head.

Mrs. Nitmos and I (and now the kids) quote from it all year ‘round. If I start complaining about some minor detail of something or other – which I often do – either the kids or Mrs. Nitmos are apt to say “the little lights aren’t twinkling** which is our code for reminding me that everything is okay and stop focusing on the one little hair out of place.

This is a good lesson to apply to running as well. I often come home from my track 800 intervals annoyed because one of the six 800’s fell outside of my goal range. And by “outside” I mean by no more than 1-2 seconds. Never mind that I exceeded my goal on several of the other intervals…and that my overall pace was right on target…and that I looked extremely handsome accomplishing all this. The one damn 800 ruined the whole bunch (except the handsome part).

The little lights aren’t twinkling.

I’ve done the same in marathons. Twenty-five miles went pretty much to expectation but CURSE THAT WALKING BREAK IN MILE 23. ARGGGHHH!!!

The little lights aren’t twinkling.

I’ve seen it around on various blogs as well. It was my first marathon…I came up 5 minutes short of my goal. –or- I set a PR in the 15k but my bloody nipple ruined my favorite white shirt. – or- Angelina Jolie is pretty but she smells of orphan.***

The little lights aren’t twinkling.

This holiday season, let’s all take advice from the modern philosopher’s known as the Griswolds.

Forget about the 2 seconds you missed for your 800 interval. Never mind the rose blossom on your PR soaked shirt. So what if Angelina smells of orphan – they make perfume. And who cares if Cousin Eddie is bat shit crazy in real life? Look at the big picture.

The next time you notice some minor detail is out of place, one little mile of a training run is out of whack compared to an otherwise perfectly paced run, heck, even one whole run stunk amongst a training log of good ones, don’t let your Inner Art get you down.

Art: The little lights aren’t twinkling.
Clark: I know Art. And thanks for noticing.

Happy trails.

* Otherwise why would you continue to return here?
** After an exasperated Clark finally lights the outdoor Christmas lights, Clark’s father-in-law Art points out to him that some of the little lights aren’t twinkling as they should while ignoring the grandeur of the illuminated home.
*** I don’t just read running blogs you know.

I’m sorry but there simply was not enough of a creative response about what kind of abuse you would like to heap onto a treadmill in the last post. Your punishment? No post about bears and farting. Hey, you called out the bull, take the horns…

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Dead Mill

Several readers recently pointed out that my posts lately seem soaked in testosterone and burped onto the blog with a chest thumping primal growl. Let’s review….I see arm wrestling, beards, erect nipples, ninjas, and Stallone all in the last three posts. I don’t know what you are talking about. I never mentioned bears or farts once.

But I’m all about appeasement here so I’ll fore go today’s planned post about ‘things you can power drill after drinking a six pack’ and instead go with a topic near and dear to all of our hearts: treadmills.

You’ve all heard the nicknames: dreadmills, rubber band of doom, treadkills, etc. You name it…there’s a million derogatory nicknames out there for them. No one likes them but sometimes they are our only choice when you need to get a run in. It’s kinda like George Lopez on Lopez Tonight. You might want to see his guest but you really don’t want to watch George Lopez – who does? – so you weigh the pros and cons of guest vs. host on the scale of tolerance. ‘I really want to see Carrot Top so I guess I’ll deal with George Lopez.’ This is the same as thinking: ‘I really want to run so I guess I’ll deal with the treadmill.’

I try to keep my yearly tally of treadmill activity countable on one hand. Anything 5 miles and under can be done outside no matter the weather conditions. If I’m going to be out in a thunderstorm or blizzard for more than 45 minutes, well, I’ll consider the mill (if I can’t just postpone a day and go outside the next after the inclement weather passes). Last winter, I actually completed a 15 miler and two 18 milers on the mill. True story. It’s not so hard once you convince yourself that suicide is your only other option. And by mile 10 on a treadmill, to be honest, suicide starts becoming more attractive. Sisyphus? What a wimp. At least by pushing that boulder, he had a goal…a destination.

I haven’t been on the mill since last January but I know my millless days streak is numbered. The 20 degree days and harsh blowing winds are causing my Christmas lights to rattle ominously against my siding as I type. That could be me out there! That could be my teeth chattering. That could be my nuts internalizing. Hell, that will be me out there in a few short hours. I’ll be freezing my nuts off and my nuts are more of the lover-type than a fighter.

There are two truths I know to be, er, true. (1) Running is fun. (2) Treadmills should be tossed in the ocean.

Imagine my surprise when someone decided to sponsor this blog by expressing these two truths. Look, here’s photo evidence (and link on the sidebar):

The site of a drowned treadmill warms my Dimple Twins. That’s exactly where a treadmill should be – under water. Treadmill abuse, so far at least, goes unregulated. What do you call a thousand treadmills under water? A good start.

To be fair, the treadmills in the above photo are designed to be used under water and come in handy for rehab activities as well as low-impact cardiovascular training. I’m sure there’s a lot of merit to their use in this manner.

For me, it’s merely treadmill porn. I look at that picture and think “that’s great but can’t we push it deeper under water?” with an evil cackle. Maybe I’m the John Wayne Gacy of treadmills? I’m not saying treadmills should suffer but could we at least rip some of the wiring apart and slice up the mill itself a bit before submerging it. Let a fella have a little fun first, right?!

Of course, on the few occasions when I need one, I hope the gym will have a newly oiled and dry one ready for my use. Afterwards, they can chuck it in the pool for all I care.

Happy trails.

What would YOU like to see done to a treadmill?

If I think someone has really thought outside of the box and come up with something really clever, maybe I will post about bears and farting. It's in your hands, people.

See? This post was less man-driven. I only referenced a six pack of beer, my nuts, and a serial killer.

What? No one going to congratulate me on reaching 400 posts with my last posting? If you aren’t keeping track…who is? Selfish.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Where Did Arm Wrestling Go?

This is another in my landmark nostalgic series about things we have lost in this country over time. The U.S. of A. may have forgotten them but good ole Nitmos hasn’t. See also: Devil’s Night.

I love confrontation. I love competition. I love alcohol-fueled barroom bravado by testosterone pumped muscle heads. These things make me the perfect target audience for the great lost sport: Arm wrestling.

2 arms + 1 tabletop + 1 macho dispute = 1 terrific arm wrestling match.

Fuck calculus. That right there is the world’s greatest equation.

Stallone made a whole movie about arm wrestling! Look at the poster. Is there anything that says “America: Fuck Yeah!” more than that?!

I see a strong man (never mind the awkward arm snuggie)! I see an 18 wheeler! I see lots of rigid, masculine, angular font! And is that a hawk? Damn right it is! Stallone’s character is named ‘Lincoln Hawk’. I guess Eagle Washington was too ‘over the top’. (So, it’s missing a fifth of Jack Daniels and a bikini-clad chick. You can’t have everything.)

OK, so Over The Top was a shallow, plotless rip off of the everyman-overcomes-odds-to-win crowd-pleaser Stallone made famous in the Rocky series. But here’s something it had that Rocky didn’t have: Arm wrestling. (Really? I had to tell you this?)

1 movie + arm wrestling + semi trucks + 1 Stallone = The Best Arm Wrestling move of 1987!

Fuck Pythagoras and his theorem. That right there is the world’s second greatest equation.

There’s something to be said for settling disputes concisely and instantaneously man-a-mano style. If someone cuts you off while driving, you flip them off then motion to the side of the road. Hop out, arm wrestle, go about your day. * Your work colleague tells the boss that the project failed due to your incessant lifting of hand weights. You confront him, find a table, and get to the bottom of things.

Really, it’s the perfect solution to almost all of life’s troubles. Ask yourself: What couldn’t I solve with a simple arm wrestling match? It’s why I recommend this solution to all my friends and family and you should too. The only thing required is a tabletop and they’re readily available. You supply the arms and dispute.

I mean, look how much fun these guys are having settling their issue. You wouldn’t know it…but the guy on the right with the awesome beard killed the other guy’s dog for fun. In a few short seconds, it’ll all be behind them.

Whenever an issue comes up with Mrs. Nitmos, we settle it the old fashioned way: by drinking a lot of whiskey and then arm wrestling, just like our forefathers. Sometimes we even turn it into leg wrestling. But I don’t recommend leg wrestling with strangers. It gets…weird.

I hope you’ll do your part to bring arm wrestling back to the fore of America’s – heck, the WORLD’S – collective consciousness. If not, I’ll be sitting at a local bar drinking whiskey, with an empty chair, and waiting for you behind my perfectly level tabletop. Bring the arm. Call for directions.

Happy trails.

*I realize this would require a bunch of tables to be erected at intersections all across America. Doesn’t this partially solve the jobless problem in this country? Well worth it.

I’ve made my first 2011 selection. It’s a spring lady. The 2011 Bayshore Half Marathon goes on the board. Bayshore is a familiar race for me you long time F.M.S.ers will notice. This will complete my Bayshore races medal collection and, if all goes as it should, qualify me for auto-entry into NY 2012.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Full Nipple Erectus

I don’t know why I live in Michigan. I don’t like the cold. I hate winter. “Rust” is not my favorite color. The Lions stink (see: Thanksgiving, any year). I drive cars, sure, but I could care less what manufacturer’s logo is emblazoned on it. I don’t wear mittens; I’m a glove man. And, though I respect the rich history of Motown Records, I never listened to its artists. I don’t hunt (for anything but the elusive spotted PR - which can be found in any state). And did I mention there is a historically bad economy going on here?

In short, Michigan blows like Kid Rock’s next attempt at country music.

I’ve done my fair share of complaining about the weather. It’s a time-honored Michigan tradition…especially this time of year. I use the 30 seconds that I step outside to put my Garmin on the front porch to acquire a satellite signal to determine what I should wear on the impending run. You just never know at any time what it’s going to be like.

Full nipple erectus probably means two shirts and wind pants. Partial nipple erectus means a long sleeve shirt, hat, gloves but with shorts. An unexpectedly warm breeze and sun probably means it’ll turn cloudy with strong frozen blasts of wind sometime around mile two. Mother Nature likes to tease.

This is the time of year when I expect a 10-15 second drop in pace for every run. Between the long pants and the crippling asthmatic wheeze brought on by the 30 degree (or below) weather, the first casualty of war winter is innocence pace.

On Sunday, I managed to step out for a quick 6 miler feeling fresh as a recently powdered and diapered baby’s bottom. It was in the high-30’s and cloudy with only a little chilly breeze. As I headed out, I thought with satisfaction that this was a great morning for a run. I felt wonderful. It was cool but pleasant. My stride was loose and relaxed. That feeling lasted for a whole 60 seconds.

As I approached the ¼ mile mark, the two internal balloons inside my chest cavity began to shrivel to the size of my patience for Rich Rodriguez. I started sucking in deep breaths to try to keep the burners firing. I didn’t feel fresh like a newly diapered baby anymore. I felt like a baby that had eaten too much squash and made a little leaky present around one of the improperly fitted elastic legbands. With nearly 6 miles to go, this was going to suck…as in cold air suck…as in feel like you are slowly suffocating every step of the way suck.

As I finished up and peeled the cold, sweaty clothes into a pile on the carpeted floor for the laundry fairy* to magically wash, a simple truth dawned on me like it must have to the general public when they realized that Carlos Mencia is not funny: I love to run. This trumps the weather conditions. I’ve gone out in near 100 degree temperatures. I’ve run in 5 degree temperatures with a negative wind chill and everything else in between. It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing because, for me, it just affects what I wear.

I’ll still be out there either way. I shouldn’t even waste my breathe complaining. I will complain - you should know me by now - but I shouldn’t bother.

Michigan’s constantly changing climate presents some challenges but it really doesn’t override the bottom line: I’m going to run.

So, maybe Michigan isn’t so bad after all. The Great Lakes are pretty neat. It is nice to hold up the backside of your hand and point to the spot about half way between your middle knuckle and wrist as your home for those unfamiliar with the state’s geography.** Fall is beautiful. Summers are moderate. The Red Wings are terrific each year. No one wears sweater vests. And Kid Rock and Eminem just released new albums.

And, most importantly, we are not Ohio. Now that would be a reason to complain.

Happy trails.

*Mrs. Nitmos?
**How many of you just pointed to your hand? Be honest.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Age Degraded

In four short months, I’ll turn 40. Sometimes getting older is a beautiful thing. Here’s three ways in which I benefit:

First: In races I will be considered a “master”. A master? Little ole me? I’d blush but technically that’s a downgrade as I’ve been referring to myself as Pope Awesome the First for ten years now. I think Master falls below Pope Awesome but just above Da Bomb on the Nitmos Scale of Superiority. But being a member of this exclusive “masters” club does have some privileges. For one, we usually have our own winner separate from the overall race winner (though sometimes it is one and the same person).

In other words, while you schmo’s are out there freezing your skinned nips off watching the race champ get his prize, we Masters will be sitting in a heated bungalow, enjoying the muscle relaxing massage techniques of a Swedish immigrant, beneath velvet blankets, listening to a hippie strum his guitar with soothing strokes while wearing our personally fitted nipple warmers, as the Master champ is coronated.

At least, that’s what I think happens. I guess I’ll find out for sure in four months.

Another benefit, of course, is the age graded time adjustments. You’ve probably seen them attached to some of your race results. Supposedly age-graded results:

1) Adjust your performance to what it theoretically would have been during your
prime running years (your 20's and a portion of your 30's depending on the race

2) Judge your performance, using an achievement percentile,
without bias for gender or the aging process (in other words, you are measured
against a specific standard for your age and sex). These percentiles can
be interpreted as follows:

· Over 90% --- World Class
· Over 80% --- National Class
· Over 70% --- Regional Class
· Over 60% --- Local Class

3) Compare your performances for a specific race distance at various ages
to determine which was your "best race".

For me, this always meant that the old dude I torched in the final mile would end up getting the last laugh as the age-graded adjustment leapfrogged him above me in the final standings. I hated that and I’d always regret not taking him out – permanently – on the way by so that it wouldn’t happen. I didn’t mind it – or notice it – when my own age-graded score moved me above others…that seemed only right. But moving me down?? Not fair.

Now, I’ll be able to stroll across the finish line a few minutes after my jack-rabbit twenty-five your friends with a triumphant smile and watch their sad little crestfallen faces as, later that day, I move above them in the age-graded results table (or, as I call them, the "only results that matter"). Boo-yeah! Suck on that, youthies!

Second: Another huge benefit of joining the Masters club is that I’ll finally be able to invest in those creepy way-too-short, old man side split running shorts. You know the kind…they ride up high on the side exposing the hip bone and pale, sunless skin (as well as the sun tan line about 5 inches south). They are really…unsavory. They scare kids and pets. I believe they are considered a sex crime in about 19 states currently. I want them. I’ve been waiting to get them until I became a Master. Now, off to expose my bleached white hips and cultivate the matching tuft of grayish chest hair billowing out the top of my singlet like rotting cauliflower.

Third: Qualifying times! Case in point: I just posted that I was going to get into the lottery for the New York Marathon. A few of you wise soles, er, wisely, pointed out to me that NY does have an automatic entry qualifying standard to bypass the lottery roulette. For a 39 year guy like me, I’d have to run a sub 1:23. Sorry, I’m too old and slow to meet that requirement any time soon. I just did a sub 1:28 a few months ago and that seemed like a lot of work.

However, for a 40 year old, I only have to break 1:30. Suddenly, I’m plenty fast enough to gain auto entry. Look at that, in four short months, I go from hopelessly slow to Pope Awesome fast. Boo-yeah! Suck on that, youthies! So, I really just have to keep training steady – don’t even need to get any faster - and I’m in like Flynn.*

Screw the lottery. I’ll just turn 40 instead! New York, here I come.

So you young whippersnappers can have your “overall” champs and your flexible joints and your thigh length shorts and long life spans. I’ve got my ticket in hand for the Masters club and all the aroma of Flexall, tales of lost dreams, and side split shorts and pasty thighs as far as the (non-cataracted) eye can see. Oh, and arthritis, don’t forget about that.

Happy trails.

*It’s a historical phrase only us Masters would get.


Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! (Happy Thursday to everyone else!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Randumbery X: May I Be Chosen By The Claw

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.

I haven’t done a Randumbery in awhile. Mainly, I didn’t receive many (re: any) emails clamoring for its return since I last did one in April. But I don’t do what you like around here; I do what I like. So here goes the usual assortment of haphazard, ill-considered topics presented to you in Pro/Con format (also in HD, depending on your monitor).

The Claw

Ever notice how good I am with photo editing? I look just like Woody in a scene from Toy Story. It’s seamless. You wouldn’t know that my work computer only has MS Paint and that I have roughly 4 minutes to complete the task. It doesn’t show.

I hope to be chosen by the NYRR “random” selection claw process for the 2011 NY Marathon.

Pro: If I’m selected, rest assured that I’ll gloat, prance around with my successful application and point & mock those not chosen.

Con: If I’m not selected, rest assured that I’ll humbly resubmit for the next year and I’ll thank you not to laugh.

The Beautiful Game

Mrs. Nitmos and I are considering signing up for a co-ed indoor soccer team to be played in a safe environment and amongst friends. We haven't played in years but how hard can it be right? Besides, it's good winter cross-training.

Con: It costs $85 per person per 8 games. That’s $170 for 8 games of 'America frowned-upon' European sporting action. We’d have to decide which child won’t go to college after all.

Pro: It’d be a one-time only deal as, once the others got a face full of my elbows and latent adolescent hostility manifesting in the form of spikes to the ACL and threats against an opponent’s “real” father (if they even know who that is, of course, and, for that matter, does your mother?), it’d be doubtful that we’d be asked back.

Torn ACL’s in t-minus 17 days…


Does anyone else refer to their home as a "lair" when speaking in public places? I highly recommend it just for the priceless looks you get from wary strangers.

Con: Your kids are humiliated and embarrassed to be seen with you.

Pro: Your kids are humiliated and embarrassed to be seen with you.

Hope everyone has a terrific weekend. Run long, run hard – that’s what I said – to make room for the turkey feast. That’s called being pro-active!

Happy trails.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Boston Ain't 'All That'

Trust me, the last thing I intended to do was add yet another unsolicited opinion about the Boston Marathon into the deep blue muddy murk of the interwebs. But the very volume of opinions compels me to…throw another one on the pile. You know, for posterity. Won’t someone think of the children?

From someone who has run Boston, let me let you in on a little secret (assuming you haven’t already run it yourself): Boston ain’t all that and a bag of potato chips. Beardsley’s lips to your ears.*

Now, before I hear the outcry, let me be very clear: It’s a perfectly nice race in a perfectly nice city with a perfectly interesting course and perfectly terrific crowd support as well as being perfectly well-organized and I had a perfectly good time experiencing it. But it’s not, like, PERFECT, you know?

I’ve held a BQ for the past four possible Boston Marathons but only exercised the option once in 2008. I’ve made no secret on this blog of the desire to return but, if you paid attention, it wasn’t because BOSTON IS THE BEST RACE EVER AND I WILL DIE IF I DON’T DO IT AGAIN. No, I’d merely like to ‘correct the record’ and exonerate my poor race time by posting a better one. In short, when someone asks if I’ve run Boston, I say yes but then cringe for the inevitable ‘what was your time?’ follow-up. See? Nothing intrinsic about the race or the city itself, I’m being purely selfish. Altruism, thy name is not Nitmos.

I get why most runners want to run Boston. It’s the Top Dog. It has the rigid qualifying standards. It has the history. Prestige, prestige, prestige. I had Boston fever and I don’t blame you one bit for a burning desire to BQ so you can go too. I’m not trying to convince you otherwise.

My thoughts on the Boston Marathon came into focus a month ago – the weekend before registration, ironically, where I had every intention of registering first thing Monday morning – while down in Detroit for a marathon team relay with some friends and Mrs. Nitmos. We were discussing running and marathons as a group and one of my friends asked me straight up, if I only had one marathon left that I could run, which would it be. The question caught me off guard. I simply never thought about it like that before. I mumbled something positive about every marathon I’ve ever run while trying to come up with an answer. One marathon to pick? I couldn’t answer because I’ve only run 8 at 6 different locations (2x Chicago, 2x Bayshore, Flying Pig/Cincinnati, Disney, Detroit, and Boston). Not much first-hand experience from which to choose. I think I ultimately settled on Chicago just because I love the city and it was the home of my first and third (and most memorable) marathons.

But the name I didn’t say surprised me. It surprised my friend too who followed up with, “Not Boston?”

I was stunned for a moment. And then the clouds parted and a light shone down on me…maybe it was one of those cartoon light bulbs coming on over my head or maybe Beardsley was sending me an illuminating lightning bolt from atop Mt. Runmore. No, not Boston! Huh, go figure, I guess I never defined what that race meant to me before.

Boston is like the popular girl in school. She’s the prom queen, the head cheerleader, and the class president all rolled into one right down to the Marilyn Monroesque beauty mark on the cheek. From a distance, it’s perfection personified. All the guys want to get with her. But maybe, one day, you do get with her. It was nice, terrific, everything you thought. You are laying there satisfied with ruffled hair and a filter less Pall Mall hanging out of your mouth looking down at Prom Queen Boston’s head on your shoulder. You know what? That "beauty mark" looks more like a flat-out mole. And is that a hair sticking out? Does she shampoo with VO5 because that hair smells like floor cleaner sprayed with Strawberry Essence? Well, it was nice…but I gotta go. And on the way out the door, you are thinking about that cute little band geek flutist named New York that shared your love of bridges during a long discussion on the bus the other day.

The point is…Boston is certainly something to strive for but don’t beat yourself up - or the race up - for not being able to register if you couldn’t get in this year. You might be missing out on the race medal and the prestige of running in an exclusive club but you are not missing out on some orgasmic race route and some unrepeatable race experience. At least, I don’t feel that way and I think most people believe my opinion is the only one that matters, right? I’ve had better crowd experiences in Chicago. I’ve had more smiles in Disney. While the turn onto Boylston St. is certainly one of my favorite race memories, the view off the bridge to Canada overlooking Detroit is, surprisingly, equally as memorable. But, admittedly, I’m not very emotional. I don’t spill tears when crossing finish lines. Those are reserved solely for the birth of children and stepping on nails.

So, enough already, with the blog posts (like this one) complaining about Boston’s charity runners and/or justifying their registration process. Blah blah blaggity blah popular girl blah Boston blah blah. I know, it’s easy for me to say, I’ve already had her. But, since I have, I can tell you that Boston is a perfectly good race…but with a hair hanging out of the mole just like many other less hyped races. In fact, the marathon right in your hometown may be just as memorable in the long run (double entendre intended) though you may not get as many high-fives from your friends when completing it.

So, if you could only run one marathon for the rest of your life, which would YOU choose?

Now, I’m off to go ask out New York. She might turn me down once…maybe twice…but I’m pretty sure she won’t say no three times.

Happy trails.

*Beardsley never said this (as far as I know). Remember: Snark makes up 80% of this blog.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Sticker or Not To Sticker

I see the little white oval 13.1 or 26.2 (or even 70.3 and 140.6 for the tri guys) stickers on the back of cars all the time. It normally provides me just the hook I need to express some road rage. You know, something like “You can run a marathon but you just can’t seem to get through that traffic light can you asshole?!” Or, “Maybe you should spend less time running and more time learning how to drive!” I’m pleasant to be around. I like butterflies and double dip Neapolitan ice cream.

The irony, of course, is that I’m an avid runner but, when I see those stickers and I’m in a bout of head-throbbin’, artery-bustin’ road rage, the stickers provide the perfect outlet.

Besides that, they are perfectly innocent and unassuming and I don’t mind them. Look here’s one now:

It’s nice to be proud and, maybe, just a bit braggadocio about the accomplishment. There’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, it’s much better than seeing all those tobacco-stained stickers proclaiming that someone can ‘have their gun when they pry it off their cold, dead fingers!’ Or Calvin and/or Hobbes peeing on a corporate logo. (Did the cartoonist really license his product so it could be seen shooting urine onto Ford symbols all across America??)

While stuck behind a particularly vexing 26.2 stickered SUV the other day, I was thinking about what distance we seem to consider important enough to advertise on a car sticker. I’ve seen many 26.2’s and a few 13.1’s. Rarely I encounter a tri guys 70.3 or 140.6. You know what I’ve never seen? Has anyone ever had a 5k or 10k sticker?? I’m not kidding. For some – especially beginning runners – this is a daunting distance. A car sticker is a symbol recognizing your own individual achievement. Do they just not make 5k stickers? Or do folks think it’s just not impressive enough to display on the back of a car? For that matter, what is the appropriate distance to proclaim to the world through a sticky adhesive?

If you are just starting out, can you put one of these on your Volvo?

Maybe you’ve made it onto the street and want to shout to your community how far you’ve gone now:

Now you’re cookin’!

But why confine it just to running. Wouldn’t this be a top seller?

I live in a college town. I bet I could clean up with this:

And, let’s face it, this one is probably all to true for a lot of folks:

Fortunately, I don’t have any need for this sticker. But for some of you males out there, I’m sure you could use it:

For now, I’m stickerless. I don’ t have a 26.2 sticker. In fact, I don’t have any stickers…mainly because I eventually sell my used vehicles and I don’t want to have to scrape a sticker off the window to prep it. But, also, it’d be a little embarrassing to have this sticker on it when someone came to take it for a test drive:

How ‘bout you? Do you sport a running sticker? And have you noticed me in the rear view mirror using it as a weapon against you just prior to the middle finger?

Happy trails.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hooker Layaway Plan

Note: My female readers may prefer to read "hooker" as "gigolo" in the following passages. One small way in which F.M.S. fights to end sexism.

Sometimes I feel hungry but I don’t know what I want to eat.* I’ll open the fridge and take a peek. Too many fruits and vegetables and it just doesn’t feel like a fruity/vegetable type of moment. So I’ll wander over to the pantry: crackers, cookies, and chips. No, no, and no. I’ll walk back into the living room, stare at the TV for a moment, and then walk back to the fridge and try again. Same shit. Go figure. The magical grocery fairy hadn’t come yet.** I might do this lap three or four times in a row. I just can’t make up my mind. There are plenty of choices; I just don’t want to commit to one.

This type of indecision is causing me problems with race planning. Some of you may have noticed that races – particularly half marathons and up – are selling outs months, even years, in advance. The Boston Marathon 2011 sold out in eight hours! Other races are opening registration a year in advance…and selling out within two weeks (or less). We are in the midst of the Second Great Running Boom. Race directors must feel like movie producers releasing another Twilight sequel (i.e. we don’t even have to try anymore. They’ll come anyway.)

And I can’t decide what to eat within the next ten minutes. How am I supposed to commit to a race eleven months away?

But that’s exactly what we have to do now. If you aren’t already scheduling your 2011 races, it might already be too late. Most of the spring half and full marathons are already filling up. Some fall 2011 marathons are open for registration.

There are a lot of tempting races out there but I have no idea what I might feel like at this time next year. It’s like picking out a hooker and placing her on a layaway installment plan. A year from now, you may not want that same hooker. But you’re stuck with her now. You made the commitment. You’ve paid the fee. In ten short months, what fun you’ll have! Unless, a few months from now, you prefer that hooker over there…

As an aside, I realize that the preceding paragraph may have sounded extremely sexist.*** However, you should know that I attended a small liberal arts college for two years and was one of only two men of 30 students in a History of American Women course. I’m pretty sure the other guy was just trying to get laid. I was there so that I could learn to drop some Elizabeth Cady Stanton on your asses! Suffragettes, yo!

So even though I can’t decide between a plate of nacho chips & salsa or a midget-sized Kit Kat bar, and I can’t decide if that uncomfortable lower abdomen pressure is a fart or a shit, hell, I can’t even choose between Team Edward or Team Jacob, I need to pick out my 2011 races?!

Oh, Elizabeth, why am I being put through such suffrage? Didn’t we stand shoulder-to-shoulder against such hostility so I wouldn’t have to pick out my hooker now?

That being said…here are the likely candidates. Peanut gallery, feel free to chime in if you have any strong feelings about any of these potential races. Right now, I’m just perusing the red light district doing a little window shopping. Before long, I’ll need to see the Madam.

Spring Ladies

Martian Half Marathon (April/Dearborn, MI)
Country Music Marathon (April/Nashville, TN)
Cleveland Half or Full Marathon (May/Ohio)
Bayshore Half Marathon (May/Traverse City, MI)

Fall Ladies

Chicago Marathon (October/Illinois)
Grand Rapids Marathon (October/ Michigan)
New York City Marathon (November/New York – at least, join the lottery)
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (November/ Indiana)

There are also a few other gnarly looking hookers races I’m considering. They look questionable but….might be okay. Any other suggestions in the greater Midwest area would be appreciated.

The rest of you, start picking out your dates now! You don’t want to be left on the sideline or, worse, out with some eHarmony leftover. Elizabeth and I didn’t fight for that, yo!

And you can save your sympathetic comments towards Mrs. Nitmos. I am a keeper and she is lucky to have me.

Now, did that grocery fairy stop by yet

Happy trails.

*Not purple jelly beans. I covered that already.
**Mrs. Nitmos
***If it did, then my plan worked!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Purple Jelly Beans

I have a bowl of delicious jelly beans. I like jelly beans. They make me feel happy when I eat them. Not heroin in the eye balls happy but, you know, regular average-dude-with-too-much-credit-debt-working-a-dead-end-job happy. That is to say, sullen punctuated by brief periods of complacency. I blindly rummage through the bowl and enjoy an orange one or black one. Hell, even the pinks are okay. I’m secure enough to admit it. I won’t be composing lengthy sonnets or holding boom boxes up outside the jelly bean manufacturer’s door any time soon but I’d consider sending an inexpensive Thank You card or, at the very least, include an homage to them at the top of a blog post.

The point is I really like jelly beans. Except the purple ones. What the fuck is up with those? Seriously, talk about ruining a perfectly good assortment of jellied candy. What exactly is that flavor? Chalk? The hardened physical manifestation of the ennui of disappointed runners?

But that’s what you get with a mixed bowl: Mixed results.

And, finally, three confusing paragraphs in, we get to the point of today’s post: A review of my much ballyhooed 2010 Year of the Ass Kicker. You’ll recall that 2010 was going to be the pinnacle of my running career. I planned to stand on a mountain of defeated PR’s and pound my chest skyward in an open blasphemous, triumphant challenge to whatever spiritual being to which you subscribe. If I graphed my running speed, this would be the year at the top of the ascending line immediately before the sharp downward turn (see: economy, 2001). Starting in 2011, I planned to – get this – run FOR FUN. Crazy, I know. Maybe I had injected some of that heroin in the eyeballs when I wrote that post.

As with all things connected to F.M.S., the pomp and bluster with which it was presented did not meet the reality. In short, my 2010 Y.A.K. plans deflated like air rushing from a balloon with one of those comedic squeaky noises and ending with a flatulence-resembling rumble. Or, cue sad trombone, whatever your preferred sound effect.

The 2010 Y.A.K. had some successes...but more purple jelly beans than expected.

In summary, I had vowed to:

-Refine my training by adding a day of running each week and organizing my speed work. (Partial credit: I ran a bit more sporadically but did get some structure in my speed work.)
-Set a new marathon PR. Run more miles during training. (Partial credit: Missed my PR by 38 seconds due to poor pacing in the last 10 miles. Did run more miles though.)
-Break 18 minutes in the 5k. (No credit: Training indicated it was possible but...PURPLE BEANS!)
-Sign up for an ultra marathon. (Nope.)
-Race more. (Nope.)
-Sign up for a team relay. (Credit!)
-Don’t give in to easy excuses to miss a run. (Credit! Barely missed any scheduled runs this year so far.)
-Approach the puke threshold frequently. (Credit! This summer, I was on the edge frequently.)

My half-marathon PR and generally successful interval training were delicious orange and red jelly beans. I ran more miles this year (already!) than any previous year (mmmm, black beans.) I enjoyed Life on the Puke Threshold. But I paced too conservatively in the second half of the marathon and ended with a mouthful of purple. And those 5k’? More purple beans. More ennui.

It seems that my running this year can be summed up by continuing the tiresome analogy: In training, I enjoyed the varied jelly delights with lip smacking joy. In races, I mostly consumed purple.

If you are thinking that this sounds awfully like a year in review – in early November – you’re right. I probably won’t race again before the end of the year. My jelly beans are in the barn. And, more importantly, I beat everyone else’s yearly review before it became cliché. First! Stay tuned for my 2011 goals post which will undoubtedly be better than yours. Or, at the very least, FIRST!

Now, off to see how the purple jelly beans feel when injected directly into the eye balls. They didn’t feel too good when kicking me in the nuts.

Happy trails.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Let me fill you in on a little secret I recently learned: that “s” in Asics? It doesn’t stand for “soccer”.

I love my Asics. I’ve been running in them for years now. I think I started with the GT2090’s (was that a shoe…or just my Swiss cheese memory?) placed on my foot by a running specialty store clerk. A celestial light beamed down. Doves flew up around me in a sweeping arc. My feet were saved! I’m sure I paid too much money for them because I bought them from…a running specialty store. Since then, of course, I’ve found a source for buying the 2100 series shoes at half price (as long as you don’t mind wearing last year’s model – and you don’t get the doves and light) which is to say not from a running specialty store.

Like most, I follow the usual rules of Running Shoe Life Cycle: 1. Run for 400 or so miles. 2. Transition them to every day walking shoes. 3. Place them in a retirement home (lawn mowing shoes) and finally 4. Garbage (dog shit caked to the bottom.) This usually works quite nicely…unless you deviate from the norm.

My deviation came in the form of a request to fill-in on a friend’s co-ed soccer team. By the time I was done, my recently transitioned (stage 2 life cycle) Asics 2140’s looked like this:

I’m pretty sure that hole wasn’t there before I ass kicked all over an indoor soccer arena. The shoes have a nice breathable mesh but I don’t recall the gaping, exposed ventilation system on the outer edge. Someone’s ass must have a hunk of Asics mesh stuck up in there. Sure, it’s somewhat nice to have my little toe flopped out of the shoe like it’s lying on a sundeck while the other four toes hibernate inside. The four larger toes have long been jealous of the runt. But it does make me look like a refugee.

I guess it was worth it. We won 14-5. I scored a goal with a few assists. I scared the bejeebus out of a 55 year old woman with two knee braces by charging at her as she fumbled around with the ball at her feet, shouting “Run through the ball. RUN THROUGH THE BALL!!”, before spinning her to the ground as I hustled away with the ball the other direction.

I’m not going to go out and buy shoes to just to walk around in - that would be silly – so what do I do now? Do I make an early transition for my current running shoes (which still have 100 miles or so in them)? Do I keep on wearing them until the second toe pops out on the sun deck? Do I move the shoes into stage 3 life cycle a bit early and just walk around in sandals like I’m a Hippie?

Maybe I’ll keep them around for awhile. I may need to play soccer again. I remember leaving the field thinking that there was more ass to kick out there that I left unkicked. Until I noticed the new hole, I thought some of the opposing players were calling me an “Asshole” during the post-game handshake and I was quite pissed. But then I looked down, spotted my little toe peeking out, and realized that they must have been saying “Asicshole”. I smiled and waved, “Yes, you’re right, my Asics have a hole. Thank you.” To which, they indicated that they saw only one hole by extending one finger in the air. Helpful.

Perhaps there’s a stage 2.5 in the Running Shoe Life Cycle?

That would be the one in which 39 year olds run around in overused running shoes intimidating the Just For Fun co-ed leaguers with way too much aggression.

I can already see the new marketing campaign: Asics! Not for soccer…but they can still kick some ass! Be a real Asicshole today!

Happy trails.

I should provide an update on my filly’s travel soccer team of which, you’ll recall, I’m their Lombardi-esque coach. We did not win the league title. We finished 4-2-2 with the champ going 6-1-1. We beat and tied the champ in head-to-head action so the rest of the league didn’t hold up their end to help us out. Where was their A game when playing the eventual champs? My filly? Eight goals in 8 games. Plus, she assisted the other area travel team in three of their games and put in 3 more goals in 3 games. She does not wear Asics.

Spring, yes spring, the title will be ours!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Runners Are Better Than Charlie Sheen Because...

Runners and Charlie Sheen: Two things that go together like Henry Rollins and subtlety. Who’s to say which is better? One may tear themselves apart slowly, step by step, over 26 miles; another does it over 26 years. Opinions are like bad sitcoms; we all have one. Here’s mine.

Runners are better than Charlie Sheen because…

  1. Rarely do you get STD’s from the community race day Gatorade volunteers.

  2. Running can be a verb with positive connotations. The other can also be a verb but with less positivity . (i.e. “I took so many drugs that I rented a prostitute, trashed my hotel room, and capped the evening off with an embarrassing mug shot. In other words, I was really Sheened last night.”)

  3. If you don’t like the woman race once you’ve started, you can just hire register for a new one. (Wait, maybe that’s how running is the same as Charlie Sheen.)

  4. The only “crack” involved is the one you lube to prevent chafing.

  5. You can still set a race PR. Charlie is resigned to his lifetime 1986 PR for Platoon.

  6. Cramps may shut down your morning race. They take Charlie out for an entire week. (Or, at the very least, make him open up the Rolodex.)

  7. When you snot rocket, it doesn’t land on the back of someone’s head.

  8. Lindsay Lohan can still pull it off even with a cigarette in hand. Take that, Chuck!
  9. Your heart and lungs strengthen and expand. Liver bloating = extremely rare.

  10. When you run, you may be a role model. When you’re Charlie Sheen, you’re not.

  11. BONUS: Running enhances your body’s natural curves and streamlines your physique. Without two surgically implanted cantaloupes on your chest, Charlie’s not interested in you.

Happy trails.


I’m whiling away the days with a steady stream of 8 mile and under runs with a few intervals thrown in to keep fresh. It’s off season maintenance mode around these parts. Last night: 5 miles at 6:58 pace.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Where Did Devil's Night Go?

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween. Mine was sufficiently merry. Mrs. Nitmos and I are currently enjoying the 40% house tax on the kids’ trick-or-treat candy. The country may be a democracy but this household is crazy dictatorial with a ludicrous flat tax on Halloween goods. It would have been nice to get a few more Snickers but - bad economy and all - I understand.

Before the pirates and witches and Clintons came calling, I managed a nice five mile run through my neighborhood and another nearby. It was late Sunday morning and, as I ambled along the leaf-strewn sidewalks, I noticed something strange. Rather, I did not see something I was expecting. Where were the trees covered in toilet paper? Where were the smashed pumpkins in the middle of the road? And where oh-where were the baseball batted mail boxes and egged cars?

As the leaves crunched underfoot and the future ghouls laughed and played in their yard, I became strangely aware that petty vandalism, tears, and smashed fruit no longer play a part in the holiday.

What is wrong with these kids today?

Devil’s Night was always a much anticipated tradition when I was a kid. We liked it more than Halloween. It was our one chance in a year to get even with the neighbors we truly hated. My brothers and I would put on our navy or black colored clothing and run around the neighborhood soaping car windows so thick that they were no longer transparent, egging the house of the kid who dug up our dead cat (true story), and launching high-arching toilet paper missiles that draped over the highest branches of the neighborhood oak trees. We’d hide in ditches when the patrol car came through and try to elude the parents with flashlights (or run like hell if you were caught in their beam of light – this was some of the earliest fartleking I remember doing.) We didn’t break pumpkins or swing for the fences against the plastic mail boxes but we sure enjoyed the handiwork of those that did. We knew to put our pumpkins inside the garage on Devil’s Night. Some didn’t get the memo.

In the morning, we’d walk around the neighborhood and enjoy our – and others – devilment: Annoyed parents scraping hardened egg off their car, kids crying over their broken pumpkins, cracked windows being taped together, and one or two police reports being given with angry gesturing points in our direction.

I guess since Detroit has decided not to burn the city to the ground any longer*, the rest of the country has taken its lead.

I finished my run without sight of one act of traditional Devil’s Night tomfoolery. It seems that Halloween is a one day, stand alone event now. Instead of misdemeanor crimes and tears of sadness, it’s all about costumes, candy, and fun. How sad. Where is the counter balance to this night of joy?

For me, Halloween is about drinking too much, verbally abusing the opposing sports team on TV, and sending the kids to see mommy for their basic survival needs. And someone disconnect that goddamn doorbell!! In other words, it’s a holiday like any other.

Oh, Devil’s Night, how I miss you.

Happy trails.

*Really, what is left to burn? Torching the same burned out warehouse again is just extremely cliché

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Procrastination! (A Love Story)

Here are three recent events in the lives of the Nitmii in which my natural inclination towards laziness and do-another-day-ism resulted in a net benefit to me. Rest assured, no animals were harmed in any of these tales. (Wait for those in a subsequent post: Cat-Water Box! (A Torture Story).)

F.M.S. presents: A Chronology of Dawdle

October 17th: Deferred Motivation

Mrs. Nitmos and I took to the streets of Detroit once again for the 2010 Detroit Marathon relay. We were competing in the Open Mixed group which requires no less than two 'outies' and two 'innies' in the sexual organal make-up of the roster. Due to some last minute team member gerrymandering, we were one vag short of the required 'full house' of genitalia to make our team street legal for a run at the division awards. Instead of five – three men and two women – we were four (three men and one woman). As such, I was burdened with two legs, approximately 12.7 miles, of the race. Having no inclination to tuck for one of the legs (and, really if you knew me, the physics would be impossible), there would be no chase for an award.

It wasn’t the distance but the wearisome roster shenanigans that left me in need of motivation as I boarded the bus for Canada to await my start at leg #2 that morning. I would run but I wasn’t exactly sure how hard (t.w.s.s.) I would do so.

I completed leg #2 in less than stellar time. Since I was going two legs, I bypassed the exchange station in downtown Detroit and headed north of the city onto leg #3 with only a passing consideration towards accelerating. As I passed the exchange zone, however, I noticed one fire engine red shirt wearing chap beginning his leg of the relay with gusto. He ran alongside me for a bit after leaving the exchange zone and then zoomed away all hopped up on his fresh legs and obnoxious shirt. I plodded along content to finish the last 6.6 miles at…whatev pace.

But then I started playing a little game to pass the time: Catch the pace groups. When I joined the race, the 3:35 marathon pace group had just passed. They were toast within the first 1/2 mile. By the time we arrived in Detroit at the end of leg #2, I had passed the 3:30 group already.
So, I started accelerating. I could feel the latent motivation returning from my untucked regions surging through my limbs like an estrogen boost injection for a pre-op tranny. The 3:25 group fell and then 3:20 was left behind.

And then fire engine red shirted guy came into view with just under 2 miles to go. As I pulled alongside of him, he surged ahead with a ten second full thrusters on kick. He did this four times in a row clearly trying to fight me off. At this point, I would have knocked over some struggling marathoners (mile 18 for them) to beat this guy. I’m not going to let some one-legger with horrible fashion sense get the better of me.

I pulled ahead again. He charged up next to me again, breathing heavy, and said “Nice job relayer.” I replied with a fake smile “You too." Then, just before I burst ahead one final time, I innocently looked over and asked “Is this your second leg too?” I didn't see him again.

We finished 9th of 210 teams in our category.

October 18th: Frittered Chance

This Monday was Boston Marathon registration day. I knew registrations would be going fast. I took the 18th off from work to recover from the relay and take care of some other errands. I even viewed the BAA website early that morning but passed on registering. A dentist appointment…raking the yard…these things just seemed more important.

That evening, with sparkling teeth and an uncluttered lawn, I logged back in to the BAA website to see that registration had closed. (cue sad trombone) There was a slight twinge of regret for not registering first thing in the morning. But considering the expense it takes to get me, Mrs. Nitmos, and potentially the kids to Boston for 2-3 days minimum, I was conflicted about the whole idea altogether anyway. I’m passive-aggressive that way.

In the end, with registration closed and Boston 2011 out of reach, it didn’t take long before I decided that I was okay with it. A nice clean mouth of teeth and five heaping bags of raked leaves were the alternative instead. You know what? I’m at a place in life where that still seems like a good trade-off.

Besides, Boston Schmoston. When’s the NYC Marathon?

October 27th: Stalled Rake

After the October 18th raking session, the rake was placed away to a life of ease and solitude along the garage wall as a steadily growing pile of leaves fluttered to the ground in the days that followed. I’d look outside, shake my head at the work that needed to be done, and return to my DVR and Sons of Anarchy.

And then the wind came. Heavy winds. And the leaves tumbled down the road. And now I don’t have many leaves left in the yard.

My rake still sits along the garage wall. There are no leaves. My DVR is empty.

I win. But where do the leaves go? I can only imagine my neighbor five doors away that stepped outside for his morning paper only to discover that his yard now has a four foot blanket of leaves draped across it. My advice? Go back inside and put on the DVR. They’ll be gone before you know it.

And finally, an apology. I’d love to have posted more over the last month but, well, it seems I just didn’t feel like it. Will you hear from me again? Maybe when I can’t put it off any longer.

Happy trails.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mine Is Longer Than Yours

But we knew that already.

Consider this the bookend companion to my other landmark blog post, Mine Is Shorter Than Yours. I’ll warn you upfront, Garmin (praise be thy name) comes in for some gentle teasing, though we know it is infallible and all-knowing. Anyhow, I think I’m safe down here in my basement, within my cocoon of mold spores and spiderwebs, from any celestial lightening strikes.

The 2010 Capital City River Run Half Marathon Race Report

I started this blog a few years back so I feel some weird sense of obligation to post a race report so that future generations can peruse my mind-numbingly dull stats. Posterity can be a pain in the posterior. Does anyone read this blog anymore? Unlikely. But, hey internets, here’s a race report! I’m following the General Internet Rule #1: If you don’t know what to do with useless information, post it online!

It’s been 9 days since I ran this race and 40 days, Garmin (p.b.t.n), since my last blog post. I haven’t been a very good blogger lately and certainly not a very good commenter on your blogs. Does that make me a bad person? No. It’s your fault.* Write something that I want to comment on. All of your race reports are entirely devoid of things dripping in syrup. Shame.

Besides, I’ve been busy working on my screenplay: Feet Meet Street: The Movie. It’s a cross between Dude, Where’s My Car? And Behind the Green Door…except with more dick jokes and a notch or two up on the vulgarity ladder. I’d like to get it turned into a feature film staring Carrot Top**before 2012 if only the studio execs would stop saying things like “You can’t do that with string cheese, that many times, in one movie” and “Did you have a mother?” Answers: That’s called “Saturday” at my house and yes, I had a mother but she recently changed her name and moved away.

But about that race. My Y.A.K hasn’t been going very well this year as I’ve near-missed PR’s in a few 5k’s and the full marathon. A few trifling seconds here and there have undermined a great summer of training. It was put up or shut up time at CCRR. Or another whiny blog post. I was fine with either one, actually. Last year, my Garmin (p.b.t.n.) told me I ran 13.21 miles for this same half-marathon which nearly caused me to miss my race goal. A 1/10th of a mile is a considerable distance when you are cutting it close to the goal time. After last year’s CCRR, I snarkily declared that my half-marathon distance (13.11) is shorter than their half-marathon distance (13.21) apparently which, in turn, spawned several comments calling me a whiner or a wimp (and generated at least three sessions of self-mutilation arm cuttings in the privacy of my bathroom as I struggled to deal with your hurtful comments.)

Well, I’m back. And I’m whining some more. Garmin (p.b.t.n.), like Jessica Biel’s ass, is perfect in all ways. We know that. But it measured the race this year at 13.29 miles. Since there’s no way Garmin (p.b.t.n.) could be wrong, CCRR, j’accuse!

Sure, my Garmin (p.b.t.n.) records .26 miles almost every lap around a 400 meter track but, once again, I assume the track is incorrect, right? If Garmin (p.b.t.n.) is wrong than what, pray tell, makes sense anymore? Is the sky not blue (or gray here in Michigan.) Is Carrot Top not actually funny?

No, Garmin (p.b.t.n.) is correct. I must believe it. As such, it’s clear that the CCRR tried their best to fuck me over again but I overcame.

Here are my gloriously consistent, even slightly downward trending, race splits. To maximize the whining, I’ve even included the finish stats based on the official race totals and what Garmin authoritatively says. That should instigate some insults in the comments (I have my razor standing by if you get in some real good zingers.)

Behold the breakdown of a well-paced, negative split race!

Mile 01 6:46
Mile 02 6:48
Mile 03 6:46
Mile 04 6:35
Mile 05 6:35
Mile 06 6:37
Mile 07 6:37
Mile 08 6:36
Mile 09 6:32
Mile 10 6:30
Mile 11 6:35
Mile 12 6:30
Mile 13 6:31
Last bit 6:03 pace (1:47 time)

Numbers? Yes, numbers:

1:27:43 time
13.11 miles (Garmin sez 13.29 miles)
6:42 pace (Garmin sez 6:36 pace)

37th of 1455 overall
4th of 89 in age group

A new PR by 70 seconds! (drum roll, cymbal crash, and update my side bar.) I’ll take that. I even left the finish area feeling pretty energetic. This was, by far, the smartest race I’ve ever run. I resisted the urge to take off like a shirtless drunk on Cops and paced nice and easy for the first three miles before ever so gently turning up the pace. A positive byproduct of training at near race pace constantly, like I do, is that the actual races feel pretty much like any other run. However, a negative byproduct of that type of training is that I often complete a race realizing I should have pushed harder than my normal training run. I lazily allowed myself to lapse into ‘training pace’ rather than shift to a higher ‘race pace’ gear. I think the 1:27 marker, at the very least, should have fallen…maybe even 1:26. But everyone probably feels that way after a race, right?

I’ve felt so good about this race, that I’ve been consuming an avalanche of sugary sweets that would make Thintervention subjects sweat with envy from their purple, blood-engorged cankles. I can hear my filly’s left over birthday cake shaking within it’s cake container as we speak. I’m coming for you cherry chip cake…just let me get the syrup first.

Happy trails.

*Come on, you expected that.
** Comeback vehicle?

I skipped out on my planned 10k this past weekend and I don't feel bad about it. I'll try to latch onto another 10k down the road before 2010 ends. That PR should easily fall.

My filly's travel soccer team, expertly coached by yours truly, is in the hunt for the league title at 3-1-1 with a string of home games to go. Can we win? Only if they closely listen to every word I say like I'm Garmin (p.b.t.n.) reincarnated. The filly has pumped in 5 goals in 5 games. She has been earning her dinner...for now.

Will I post again before the Detroit Marathon team relay in less than two weeks? I'm as curious about that as all of you. Once again, for the relay, Nitmos = two people (which is odd because my ego says Nitmos = 10 people. Maybe the CCRR did the calculation?)