Friday, January 29, 2010

Frozen Throat Chronicles: Episode 2

Note: Though I have no intent to make this a regular running series, this is, at the very least, a sequel. If Alvin can do it, so can I. Go here for Episode 1.

Episode 2: The Chest Rash

In the last episode, an exceedingly handsome man went out on an ordinary four mile run when Old Man Winter attempted to choke the very life out of him with his own loogy. By the time he returned home, Captain Esophagus was born.

There’s something about stitching on moisture wicking clothing that just will not mesh. Since our hero returned and discovered his true identity, he poured through a library of superhero movies to determine his next step. Spiderman, Iron Man, they all go about the business of creating their costumes. And so it was that Captain Esophagus set about with sketch pad, dramatic music, and a montage of scribbled drawings and rejected ideas littering his floor.

A giant “E“ stitched on his marathon race shirt? No, an “E” is a failing grade and one with which the good Captain was all too familiar. How about a nickname, like Spidey, for citizens to yell out as he ran by? But the only nickname in which he was regularly referred did not inspire confidence or strength. Plus, “dumbass” was too long for the shirt.

Finally, he settled on an open throat with a stuck loogy dangling in the back. This was, after all, his moment of birth. Or re-birth. And this, the time of his afterbirth.

The stitching of the loogy filled throat scratched across his chest as he laced up for another mid-winter run. In hindsight, it was not a good idea to stitch into his moisture wicking shirts. He would need a lot of soothing gel post-run. But if a chest rash is the only price he’d have to pay for greatness, well, then he’d do it. For the people…who needed Captain Esophagus.

It was 12 degrees out. Too cold for mortals. His first steps were tentative. The crisp crunch of icy snow underfoot announced his arrival. Five miles to go. A test of wills.

I know you are out there Old Man Winter. I feel your frozen breath.

He ran on. His chest rubbed raw from the hero logo emblazoned on his shirt. A car horn beeped. A group of teenagers apparently wanted to wish him well by repeatedly calling him by his nickname. He tried to correct them, “It’s Captain Esophagus, please.” But the teens just laughed along with him, though the Captain was not aware of the joke, and pointed at his shirt.

“What’s that?” They asked through giggles. “Is that an ass with a piece of crap in it? Are you Captain Colon Blow?”

“Now that would be a ridiculous name for a superhero…” The Captain, with hands on hip, corrected but the teens were already careening down the road and out of sight (though he did hear the unmistakable shout of ‘Captain Dumbass awwaaayyy!’ amidst the cackles.)

Alone again. Two miles to go. His knuckles and fingers were frozen making it no longer possible for him to play air harmonica to the soothing sounds of one Hue E. Lewis broadcasting through his mp3 player. Maybe Old Man Winter did not want to tussle again? Maybe the colon, er, frozen throat loogy logo was scaring him away?

Like a shadow racing across the ground in front of the setting sun, the frozen air instantly numbed his tongue, throat, and then esophagus. It came suddenly. His panting breaths immediately turned asthmatic. He felt as if his lungs were going to collapse like Lindsay Lohan’s acting career. His steps became labored. The bright sun reflecting off the snow made him disoriented.

And that’s when he came. A swirling cloud of snow rose from the ground directly in his path at the next intersection not more than a hundred yards ahead. He formed like a towering pyramid. Pointy hair, bluish tint, elongated nipples, shrunken penis, all the signs of extreme cold were there. Old Man Winter threw his head back and thunderously laughed. His belly violently shook the steel cage of his ribs. Inside the ribbed prison, the Captain could see Jimmy Buffett in his Hawaiian shirt screaming and reaching for our hero to save him.

Captain Esophagus stopped, took one deep drag of the icy winter air, and, like the Mandelbaums before him, decided it was Go Time. He defiantly stared into Old Man Winter’s blue eyes and hacked up a big spit. And took off again, lowering his shoulder, ready to run full steam into the frozen giant.

As he approached, he could feel his throat freezing to the point of suffocation. He did not know if he’d make it. But our hero was determined for the stitched shirt and rash not to have been in vain. He picked up the pace. He was going to fartlek into Old Man Winter. Jimmy Buffet screamed between mouthfuls of cheeseburger. Captain closed his eyes and braced for impact.

Just then, the careening car full of teens plowed through the intersection directly into O.M.W. just ahead of the hero. Old Man Winter instantly dissipated as if a thousand interlocking fireflies had suddenly dispersed and scattered. Buffett’s tan feel to the ground in a crumpled heap but his body disappeared with the rest of Old Man Winter.

Where you headed now Captain Colon Blow?!” The envious teens yelled. “Your shirt needs a laxative…”

Captain Esophagus attempted to correct the misguided youths again but they were already too far down the road, their car seemingly fueled by sneering insults and incorrect hero logo identification. These are Rohrschach failures, the hero thought.

Captain Esophagus approached home. He was now 2 for 2 over Old Man Winter. And, based on his superhero understanding, there would not be a third encounter as every villain only gets to come back once in a sequel. He had conquered winter for the people. Everyone would be free to enjoy a mid-winter run!

He walked up the front porch steps and took one deep drag of the now refreshing winter’s air basking in victory. Five miles accomplished. Winter defeated! Again! A thick, gooey spit balled up in his throat. This time, Captain Esophagus confidently swallowed the food residue.

But, half way down, he choked. The flap of cartilage that directs food away from his lungs was frozen open! He gasped and spit until he regained his composure and breath.

His epiglottis was frozen open. Air and food were callously being directed to the same location. A new threat.

Off in the distance, an evil, gleeful cackle echoed…Captain Esophagus’ work was not done.

Epiglottis Man approached.

Happy spitting.

Coming January 2011, Frozen Throat Chronicles 3: The Paralyzed Larynx!

5 miles on Tuesday. 7 miles on Thursday. 12 miles this Sunday. Then official training begins!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Planless

So here I am a week before officially starting my training for my next marathon. I still haven’t put together my plan. I’m sure I’ll slap something together at the last minute. I do my best work when under pressure and after much procrastination. It’s netted me a number of “participant” ribbons and a staled career after all. Obviously, my system works!

I have high hopes for the Bayshore Marathon. It is the site of my reigning PR. It’s largely flat course with only a few rolling hills through certain sections. If the weather is right – it’s on the bay shore and thus open to wind blowing in off the water – it’s a great course for a fast time. Plus, in years past, I’ve had great success in convincing Mrs. Nitmos to go to Hooters post race for beer and wings. I don’t particularly care for the wings but, you know, its Hooters and its fun to watch Mrs. Nitmos deal with all that is Hooters just because she’s trying to be nice about things for my sake. It’s this kind of cashing in on favorable circumstances that make me such a great husband and an overall pleasure to be around.

I’d like to set a new PR in the marathon. This is the Y.A.K. and PR’s are the goal for the next 11 months. I’ve always wanted to qualify for Boston under the non-age graded standard. In other words, a time under 3:11. I’ve qualified twice in the 3:12 range which works for folks like me in the 35-39 age bracket. In fact, the next Boston I can run is April 2011 and this Bayshore would count towards that. Since I would be 40 in April 2011, I really only need a sub 3:21 now to qualify. Hooray for middle age! If no race ending calf cramping, that SHOULD be in the bag. (jinx?)

I think I need to shift my normal training paradigm. I’ve done just enough in the past to qualify but, literally, I’m running on fumes to get to the finish. If you know me at all, this isn’t surprising. I often do just enough to get by. But if I want to do better, I need to shake things up and embrace a new training regimen. I’ve resisted logging extra so-called “junk”miles in the past. It seemed like unnecessary wear and tear on my body when I was able to (barely) reach my goals without it. But now my goals have changed and I need to get faster. Do I need more miles? Do I need more speed work? Do I need more beer served to me by women wearing socks as shirts? I think…Yes and Yes and most definitely Yes.

Since I don’t have Bill Squires sending me work-outs scribbled on restaurant napkins, I’ll put together this training plan – like all the rest – on my own. The bulk of my prior long runs have been in the 15-16 mile range with only 2-3 runs of 20-21 miles before the marathon. I’m going to bump that up to where the bulk of my long runs are in the 17-18 mile range with around 4 long runs in the 20-23 mile range. Plus, I’m going to add a second “medium” distance run a week in the Nitmos-patented Limbo style. The question is whether or not this is enough of a change to shave another 3-4 minutes off my best time. I've kinda stalled out in the 3:12 range with my current plans.

The basic structure will look like this:

Tuesday: 5 miles/speed work/ intervals
Wednesday: 7-10 miles/easy run
Friday: 10 miles/Limbo run
Sunday: 15-23 miles/long run/fartleking through-out

That’s the tentative plan. It has me running about 8-10 miles more per week on average with more speed work at "medium" distances. Considering my life style, kid demands, and general slothfulness, is that enough miles to shave another 3-4 minutes off my PR?

The numbers themselves haven’t been plugged in yet. I’ll get to that….some day.

I still have a week to go.

Happy trails.

Sunday long run: 11 miles @ medium hard effort of 7:11 pace. 43 degrees!!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Mrs. Nitmos and I are bigots. Climate bigots. She hates the cold weather. I hate the wind. When you live in a temperature-challenged climate like Michigan, you learn to appreciate a warm string of days the way Cleveland enjoys a championship sports team. They both come around so rarely that you can hardly believe it when it occurs.

I can deal with the cold. I don’t like it but, for me, it just means another long sleeve race shirt to layer on. Mrs. Nitmos hates the cold. Hates it. She sneers invectives at the thermostat on a daily basis. I’ve found her outside on the patio threatening the thermometer with mercury drainage if it didn’t start rising dramatically. (The kids’ splash pool is right under it so it wouldn't go to waste.)

Nah, the cold isn’t a big deal. I can layer up and run. Zero degrees, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, whatever. That’s why they made winter running gear. Post-run with the sweat chillies, I just throw another broken, ex-racing greyhound in the fire to warm up by rubbing my hands over the crackling bones. -- OK now, before you judge, I feel I should explain. Understand that I’m all about solutions here on F.M.S. Some of you like to focus on problems. I’m sure you’ve heard about this issue. The greyhounds’ racing days are behind them. Used up. What to do with them? Mrs. Nitmos and I are cold. Pop! Light bulb goes off. Send away for some greyhounds! We are warm. I believe that’s called ‘killing two birds with one stone.’* If you don't like it, what are you doing about it? -- No, the cold weather isn’t my thing.

I hate WIND. Yesterday, while many of you were entertaining yourself with the bio of Rocko the thong artist, I escaped for another 7 mile lunch hour run. It was a Michigan-pleasant 30 degrees…until you turned into the wind. Then the icy, wind-aided, needles cut through my North Face jacket and long sleeve thermal sub layer. Penetrated my stretchy band toned exterior and roared through my torso and out the back like a soul-ripping poltergeist. I felt like I was running through a swimming pool as every step was labored and resistant. The wind brings my climate bigotry to the fore where it erupts in profane climate Tourette’s. “G** d*** wind!” “Motherf*cker!” “I hate the f*ckin’ wind!” All of these were shouted as the wind blasts battered me from the front. The cursing swept away to the tender ears and shocked faces in the three school zones I passed.

Starting February 1st, I’ll begin my official training plan for the Bayshore Marathon (though I haven’t created it yet). Half of the training will be done in less than optimal temperatures. All of it will be in less than optimal wind patterns. Around here, springtime is merely a cauldron of swirling winds that, no matter which direction you turn, seem to somehow STILL be head on.

This is a way of life in these parts. Deal with the cold. Deal with the wind. Often, deal with both. If you want to run, there’s no sense complaining. Just suck it up and do it.

Besides, you can always throw another greyhound on the fire when you get back. Heck, even two. Believe me, you can get more than one in. That’s why God made broomsticks after all.

Happy trails.

*Or ‘two greyhounds with one poker’, whichever you prefer.


For those concerned, rest assured that no greyhounds were actually harmed during the creation of this post. It’s plenty warm in here and has been for the last half hour. I don’t support cruelty to animals. Never have. Never will. I have a dog of my own and she is terrific (if not slightly flammable.) Pets are to be loved and enjoyed. I encourage each of you to find your own methods to fuel your furnace and also help solve a critical crisis like greyhound abandonment. It was through trial and error that I discovered greyhound combustibility in the first place. (FYI: Hamsters are like dried leaves. No good.)

7 miles @ easy 7:00 pace. This weekend, plan for 11 miles. Maybe 12. We'll see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have to admit that I wanted to get another post out here as soon as possible. That photo in my last post is increasingly giving me the willies. I don’t mind if it gives you the willies but me? That will not do. We are all into German thong erotica, I know, but there’s an essence in that photo that leaps off the page and threatens to haunt our dreams. Besides, it took me several months to pry the eastern European traffic off of this blog when I posted a picture of someone with Hello Kitty band-aids on his nipples back in 2008. Well, welcome back eastern Europeans!

I think my favorite part of that photo – and we all have a favorite part, no? – is the interesting choices the photographer made. It’s almost as if he said “Rocko, we are going to take some chances here today. Nothing is TOO embarrassing for you. Your humiliation can know no bounds. What I’m after is for the straps to sling over your shoulder as if they were tree branches and you jumped into a Speedo from a higher branch and are hanging there with an increasingly violent wedgie all the while sporting a mustache and an indifferent ‘come hither’ gaze.” Almost there! Work it…work it. Now tilt your head and pretend you don’t look totally ridiculous. Got it! Click.

At first, I thought it was just a creepy, funny picture of an old dude. But now I’m starting to see the photographer’s vision here. Notice how the thong straps run just outside of the areaola and the watch face points directly at the camera. The straps could have easily concealed the mipples…but didn’t. Why? It’s almost as if the photographer is forcing us to confront our inhibitions by juxtaposing them with the constantly moving watch hand, or “time”. We may get older…we may start doing things we regret to pay our rent at the retirement village…but we are never comfortable with an elderly man in a thong wedgie gazing suggestively at a camera. No matter the time. No matter the era. There’s a lot of layers of seductiveness in that photo. Ladies, feel free to peel them back and analyze. Plus, as an added bonus, if you stare at it long enough, it works like the video from the movie The Ring but, in this case, your soul merges with Rocko’s thong and becomes part of the thong-soul-quilt. Get your reservations in early, I suggest, or you might not get a good seat, if you know what I mean.

But this IS a running blog so I guess we should turn our attention away from disturbing seniors with ass floss and to the sport we all know and love. To that end, my five miler yesterday was the most carefree of the early year. A thaw has melted most of the running paths around here. Very little ice. I started at 7:18 pace and worked down mile by mile to a 6:32 pace before calling it a day. It was so nice to run without Yaktrax and without multiple layers that I just might go out for 6-7 more miles today too.

The uncharacteristically mild weather lately has made me dream of an early spring. Of blooming flowers and runs in shorts sans hat and gloves. Of dehydration and long run calve cramping. In short, a chance for me to break out my purple Speedo and run free again.

Guten Tag!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I is Old

I don’t have one of those cute cat pictures from wherever those cute cat pictures come from to illustrate my subject line. I’m sure there is one out there for “I is Old” in the land of hilarious cats with subject-verb disagreement line tags. I’m just way too lazy to look one up. So, deal with this instead:
Should you accessorize this with a watch?

For whatever reason, every January and February I become seasonally old. The other months of the year I feel exactly my age. After the new year turns however, I start limping around and groaning with every knee bend and finger twitch. The aches and pains just don’t go away. Every morning, my finger joints are sore. No kidding. I haven’t had sore finger joints since I was thirteen and Madonna released a new video. (ba dum dum) My knees are tender. My shoulder is still strained from a stretchy band related accident 6 weeks ago. Kids are listening to entirely inappropriate music these days. And why are their pants hanging so low? And who ate my oat bran? And what time is Murder, She Wrote on?

This would be a good time to make a classless Alzheimer’s joke too. But, I won’t. Instead, I’ll ask a simple question: How many of you know someone who calls Alzheimer’s disease “Old Timers”? Seriously, is it so hard to get the disease name right that it has to be twisted to a like sounding, stereotypical slang? My boss giggles and says “Oops, I forgot about that….must have Old Timers” about once every meeting. To which, I roll my eyes, press my finger on the mute and mock her by saying "It’s Alzheimer’s, dumbass" and thank Wilford Brimley that she’s several states away. And my mute button works.

Anyhow, I forgot what I was going to say. I have a vague recollection but can’t quite remember…

So what’s with the seasonal old disorder? Or S.O.D.* Do any of you experience this phenomenon? Maybe it’s unique to us cold weather states. I wake up and just about every joint I use for exercise (and some I don’t….huh?huh? is this thing on? rimshot please) is achy and/or swollen. Since my office is in my basement, two painful, limping, stair rail propping descents of the staircase are in order before I can begin my day. I take a deep breath and look at those stairs like my grandparents must have looked at my low riding car when I came to take them to the bank to sign over their social security checks. Like, there’s no way I’m coming back from down there. (Or getting those groceries he promised.)

As the day wears on, the joints loosen up and my S.O.D. retreats. Usually, by the fifth hilarious one-liner from Will Smith at Carlton’s expense, I’m feeling pretty spry and I can ascend one flight back up to the break room** for some coffee with minimal groaning and only partial rail leaning. In fact, by evening, I feel 38 again. But the next day, I again wake up geriatric and increasingly bitter. It’s like Groundhog Day but Mrs. Nitmos is way better looking than Andie McDowell.

Maybe it’s the cold weather. My body is telling me to take a break during winter. But I’m telling it that I want to get a jump start on this coming May’s marathon so it will run on those frozen over sidewalks and do the slippy dance across those ice patches. It will stretchy band and crunch away every evening. I missed out on registering for Boston 2010 but I will not miss out on Boston 2011. If my nemesis can run with replaced knees, I can certainly run through S.O.D. It will not beat this fella.

There’s six weeks to go until the end of the cold and S.O.D. calendar here in my part of the world. Approximately 20-25 runs. Approximately 25-30 doses of Biofreeze. About 50 Advils. And another 36+ servings of bifidus regularis in my morning yogurt. Magically, as the temperature climbs, I’ll again return to my normal physical age. Mentally, of course, I’ll still be the sophomoric, vulgar blogger more appropriate for someone half my age and without kids. But, mind you, I do the judging around here and not you.

March will free me from my S.O.D. so I can pursue, pain-fee, my Y.A.K. during this YotA! WTF? LOL, that’s a lot of acronyms. Now, it’s time to end this post and push Publish and ascend the stairs, slowly and painfully, like a man in his 60’s. Its times like these that I ask, what would Brimley do? WWBD?

He’d enjoy his morning BM.

And I will too.

Once I get up these blasted stairs. Brimley help me, that’s a long ways to go…Never mind. Too late.

Hon, I need my "accident towel" down here. /shouts up stairs

Happy trails.

*Yes, 2010 with be the year of the acronym! Or YotA, for short.
** kitchen


This Week In Running (TWIR) notes:

5 miles, 6.5 miles, 10.1 miles and 5 miles again all outside, no Yaktrax! But no speed intervals either. So sad.


A few of you inquired if that was really Dick Beardsley that commented on my last post. I have no way of knowing for sure. I'll let you know when I receive the lawsuit as I believe each incidence of slander would be itemized. In the meantime, I'm preparing as I just finished reading Duel in the Sun and I'm currently into Staying The Course: A Runner's Toughest Race. Know thy enemy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life On The Puke Threshold

Special thanks to Viper for bringing this delightful phrase into being.

He stood on the edge, toes curled over the precipice looking down into the abyss. The waves, gurgles and rumbles came from his abdomen….

Yesterday I bundled up in my North Face running jacket, running pants, hat, gloves and Yaktrax covered Asics for a typical midweek lunch hour run. It’s easy for me to run during my lunch hour for that is when Yes, Dear is on and that is not much to miss.

The footing was unsteady. Each stride sunk back about two inches in the partially packed, over-plowed sidewalk snow. It was like loose beach sand. The Yaktrax did their job. I did not slip even a step over the 5 mile course. I did, however, sink backwards slightly with each stride. Garmin (p.b.t.n.) did not do its job. It did not record the extra distance I needed to make up from each slight retreat. I must have run at least 5 ¼ miles…maybe even 10. Who can really tell what with all the negative distance being racked up?

The sun was reflecting brightly off the sea of winter white as I passed the dormant golf course. It was as beautiful as something that burns your retina to the point where you can only make out hazy objects surrounded by a celestial aura could be. I don’t wear sunglasses. Why you ask? Would you ask Matthew McConaughey to put on a shirt? Would you suggest James Earl Jones use a voice box?

I trudged through the sandy snow recording my worst minute per mile pace in well over a year. Time did not matter. This was about battling the forces of nature. I’m not one given to hyperbole, as you know, but the thought occurred that the climbers on Everest might have it rough during the annual May ascent but they are walking. I was running. Scoreboard.

Sometimes when I run, especially when my retinas have been destroyed and I’m left to blindly listen and guess at the safety to cross an intersection, I imagine myself running against an imaginary foe. My imaginary friends cheer me on from the sideline. I’m amazingly fast in my imagination. My lungs are fueled by the wind created by a 1000 flapping angels. My heart pounds with the proud, rhythmic beat of a Chippewa tribal ceremony. My legs still flail in this crazy distinctive high knee kick I seem to do. Even an imagination isn’t perfect.

When the last mile approached, I kicked it in. Damn the loose snow. My shadow lies in front pointing the way to the finish. I have just finished reading Duel in the Sun so how could I not imagine Alberto Salazar breathing down my neck. I realize this ironically put me in the role of Dick Beardsley but, in my imagination, I was a more cooler, less monstrous version. I could not see Salazar’s shadow but I knew he was there.

I sped up. Heart pounding with the insistent, climatic beat of the Ojibway ritual. Angel wind expelling from my mouth in gasping huffs. Snow flinging behind me from the Yaktrax. Half mile to go….quarter mile to go…just a little further….

A feeling of nauseousness started in my stomach. The undulating waves crept up my chest and into the back of my throat…

Like Beardsley, I gave into the unseen shadow. Salazar won. Again. I pulled back and jogged the last 1/10th of a mile to the edge of my driveway. The cold air had made me dizzy and asthmatic. (Beware of breathing too much angel!) The blinding sun made me lightheaded. The shifting snow had worn the calve muscles. The last mile, in 6:50, had nearly carried the day. Nearly.

I sucked in a long, slow drag of crisp winter air and pushed back the rolling, choking sickness that had tried to fight its way out. I backed away from the threshold. I’ll see you again another day, another run.

Happy trails.

Yaktrax! 5.0 miles at a winter handicapped 7:41 pace.

P.S. I’m so glad I restrained myself from over dramatizing a fairly regular five mile run.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big Arthritis At It Again

I’m not one to demonize a company or industry like the media has done to the harmless tobacco industry by derisively referring to it as “Big Tobacco”. Sure, like tobacco companies are trying to cook up schemes to get people hooked on their product. Riiiight. There’s no dastardly villain here twirling a mustache between drags of Virginia’s finest puffed through the skull-pipe of a recently drowned kitten. I went to a tobacco company once and they were so nice they gave me the first hit cigarette for free! So stop all of this industry bashing by using the “Big (insert industry name)” tomfoolery you Big Jerks.

No, I won’t participate in careless generalized name-calling and aspersion casting.

But I was leafing through the Daily Finance as I normally do in my free time (when my issue of Sexy Calves and Bodacious PR’s is running late) when I ran across this article ("Do Running Shoes Make Us Run The Risk of Injury?") about how our running shoes are gulp! dangerous for us to wear. A study by some eggheads with high falutin “college degrees” claims that:

Overall, the study finds that while today's running shoes do a good job of protecting the foot, wearing them dramatically increases pressure in three lower-extremity joints -- the hip, knee and ankle -- when compared to running barefoot. For example, researchers note that wearing running shoes while running leads to an average 54% increase in what's called hip internal rotation torque, pressure that may increase the risk of osteoarthritis in the hip joint.

It goes on to say in all of its fancy multisyllabic words that:

With all the runner's out there -- the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says more than 7% of the U.S. population regularly runs for exercise -- the increased potential for osteoarthritis is a big concern. There's no cure for the degenerative joint disease, the most common form of arthritis, which costs about $186 billion a year in the U.S. to treat.

In other words, our running shoes are literally giving us arthritis. I read this article and was shocked. I even did a spit take with subsequent mouth agape drooling to emphasize my level of shockedness for Mrs. Nitmos. I immediately started feeling sheepish – maybe even full scale lambish – since I’ve spent a lot of time encouraging relatives to run or, at the very least, use running shoes as regular footwear due to their comfort. I was a pawn, an unwitting shill, for Big Arthritis.

I felt used…like an empty bottle of Viagra.*

All this time, I’ve been fitting to a nice comfortable running shoe to lessen the impact to my joints. I’ve been conscience of biomechanics. I’ve openly mocked non-runners for their arthritic joints merely by running past their houses with my non-arthritic hip joints swinging easily (and seductively I might add). No wonder they always shouted “Dumbass!” at me. No wonder they threatened to “run me down with their car if I ever shit on their lawn again.”

They were trying to help me. To warn me of the dangers running is doing to my joints. In sum, to awaken me to the threat from Big Arthritis. I run. I get arthritis. Big Arthritis sells me expensive drugs to ease the pain. I’m hooked. You’re hooked. We’re all hooked on arthritis.

All of these thoughts flooded through me as I continued reading the article….until I came to the end:

One person who might be eager to talk to Brooks is Kerrigan herself. The mom of three daughters, who are also runners, is working on a shoe design that she says better responds to the natural movement of walking and running...Kerrigan isn't the only one looking to reinvent the running shoe...(emphasis added by me)

Ok. Sooooo the study from the person trying to reinvent and market a new running shoe concludes that current running shoe designs cause arthritis.

I’m not going to cast aspersions – I hate that after all – but maybe, just maybe, Big Arthritis is being set up as a faux villain to jolt runners into accepting an entirely new footwear design?

Game on. I await your move Big Shoe.

Happy trails.

*from Big Penis.

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 in Preview: Year of the Ass Kicker

No, this is not another lame-o Year in Review. Yawn. How prosaic. We look forward here at F.M.S. Our eyes are always on the destination not the travel worn path. When we drive a car, we look at the road ahead not the rear view mirror. When running a race, my eyes follow the course yet-to-come not the courses past. Sometimes, mid-paragraph, we even switch from a plural voice to a singular voice hoping you’ll buy into this as some sort of dramatic mass movement rather than the declaration of an unusually handsome guy sitting in his basement with a computer trying to avoid work which his employer expects him to be doing rather than writing inane run-on sentences with so many editorial errors and unexpected and completely inappropriate ellipses and parentheses ()appearing without explanation in the middle…of a sentence that appears to have no ending so I just…keep typing and typing until we feel the point has been made and we can no longer continue switching speaking voices the way he has been doing without really pissing everyone off. To summarize, my “preview” is better than your “review” because it has a “p” in front of the word review.*

Apparently, I’m jonesing. I need more chipmunk.**

I don’t care that the official animal this year for the Chinese New Year (beginning Feb. 14th) is the Tiger. Tigers are cool. In fact, they’rrrrre GREAT! It’s not the year of the llama so I’m good with whatever. As long as the llamas don’t get a year…

I don’t follow the Chinese New Year animal designations anyhow. Their animals have a lot of lead in them, from what I’ve heard, which makes them unsafe for children and, let’s face it, too heavy for runners. Runners, and their race gear, are notoriously lead-free.

For me, 2010 is the Year of the Ass Kicker. The Ass Kicker is a lead-free, fire-veined being with overly sensitive nipples and a vague aroma of spaghetti and Alberto VO5 Strawberry Essence. He shits fruit and arm wrestles mannequins to a near draw. He can shoot-the-moon at least once every five games in Hearts because no one noticed that he passed off his low hearts and loaded up on spades. He is modest and empathetic to all but believes everyone else is inferior and should stay the fuck out of his way with their stupid problems. He runs races to set PRs. In short, he kicks ass by going all out in training and racing in the little time he has to devote to each activity.*** If you match any of these characteristics, you might be an Ass Kicker too.

If you are still with me, this is the Y.A.K (Year of the Ass Kicker, if you weren’t paying attention). Fitting, I think, since the yak is a form of bovine and my running team is called the Steers, a castrated bovine. Plus, according to the Wikipedia entry linked here, the yaks “dried dung is an important fuel.” Word. I’ve been using that for years.****

In the Y.A.K., I vow to:

· Refine my training by adding a day of running each week and detailing my currently haphazard approach to speed work.
· Set a new marathon PR. I’ll run more miles during training than ever before.
· Break 18 minutes in the 5k.
· Sign up for an ultra marathon.
· Race more.
· Sign up for a team relay event with friends/family. The last relay was a lot of fun!
· Not give in to easy excuses to skip a run or cut short some intervals.
· Approach the Puke Threshold many, many times. My toes will feel at home curled over the edge.

Basically, I want to make 2010 my best year running ever! Here’s where I’m at inside the Nitmos noggin: The Greek statue of Ares may not change over time but the American chiseled Nitmos does. Homeboy here is turning 39 and my left knee and right shoulder are letting me know that recovery time is counted in weeks (even months) rather than days. I’m going to war this year with running races. (queue Rocky theme) Time for me to lift an elderly trainer and drunk uncle in a giant wheel barrel, grow a fantastic beard, and outrun a Mercedes full of cold war era villains. (end Rocky theme)

Going forward (queue non-threatening muzak Michael Bolton), 2011 and beyond may be about running for fun more and running for PR’s less. So, I want to make this a highlight year. One I can recount to grand kids some day as they nurse my destroyed knees and change my colostomy bag (I eat lots of fiber!)

You, too, can join me and become a YAK. Let’s lock horns and make 2010 the best year ever! By years end, those that take on the YAK challenge may find themselves honorary members of the Steers Long Distance Project…after we cut your nuts off*****, of course.

Happy trails.

Oh, sorry…(end Michael Bolton).

*This applies to many situations. Isn’t being “phat” better than being a “hat”? I thought so.
**I feel foolish sitting here with a rubber tube tied around my arm bulging the veins and no chipmunk. If I had a nickel…
***Also, he seems to have a penchant for run-on sentences and overly descriptive, nonsensical definitions of imaginary beings that no one reading this cares about. In fact, he feels the need to continue the description in a footnote that no one reads anyhow except AFTER reading the enter blog entry which, by now, makes this footnote make no sense whatsoever.
****Pre-run, with oatmeal.
*****Or remove your ovaries, whichever applies.


Recent work-outs:

YakTrak Tuesday = 5 miles
YakTrak Thursday = 6.5 miles
Treadmill Sunday = 9.5 miles

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Shame Cycle

I have a confession. I’m not proud of it. In fact, no one would blame you if, after reading it, you immediately jumped out of this blog and deleted F.M.S. from your (priority) reader. Even having to type this makes me feel dirty and shameful like the first time I read Half-Fast. Ready? Here goes:

I paid real cash money to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

If the first step is admitting you have a problem, well then, at least that’s through. When do I have to call all my relatives and friend (acquaintance, really) and make amends? Most of my relatives like to shoot things with various weapons (or suffocate a skunk by filling a covered cage with exhaust fumes from an ATV – true story I just heard over the holidays. Merry Christmas!) If I explained to them that I paid money to see Alvin and some chipmunks, they’d probably respond “Like from a blind or something?” And then drink more Blatz and continue being completely visible in camouflage.

Maybe I’ll skip amend making.

And here’s where it gets worse. Two years ago I innocently paid real cash money to take the kids to the FIRST Alvin and the Chipmunks. No one could blame me then, right? New movie. Theoretically, it could have been good. It wasn’t (of course). I wanted to claw my eyes out 30 minutes in. I remember leaving the theater that evening in 2007 and saying to Mrs. Nitmos that I would never, ever see another one of those stupid movies. Not on DVD. Not on TV. Not, God forbid, a sequel.

But there I was last Saturday paying hard earned money once again. In fact, I compounded the problem by paying real cash money – not just for our family – but for two of the kids’ friends as well. Their parents must have shut the door on us after child pick-up and slide down the door howling with laughter. Suckers! But paybacks are hell. I’ll make sure they take MY kids to this future abomination.

As the lights dimmed and the little squealing chipmunks appeared on the screen (prompting my first waves of nausea and regret), I settled back and mentally reviewed my year in running and prospects for 2010. An addict often blacks out at the height of their addiction. This is as close as I was going to get. Between internal 2009 reminiscences and 2010 planning, I was interrupted only once by a 45 year old man laughing hysterically when one of the chipmunks performed a dutch oven on his guardian. Funny. Not the movie, of course, but that a man that age could actually find that funny. Everyone knows that dutch ovens stop being funny after the age of 35.

The six hour long “movie” finally ended. I managed to feel my way back out to the car, which was considerably difficult what with the two 8 inch ling forks sticking out of my eyes. I vaguely recall jabbing them in somewhere around the 20 minute point.

I’ve seen two of these horrific creations. I fear that I’m stuck in a shame cycle. If they make another, will I go? I hate them but apparently my body needs them. I’m addicted to bad chipmunk related movies. Why, oh why, couldn’t I have become addicted to the designer vampire drug? My supply would be bountiful. Instead, I’ll probably need to wait two more years for more chipmunk.* The real disappointing part of this particular addiction is that I don’t have hilarious stories about running down a highway naked or throwing up on a salad bar to bring some color to the experience. I’m left with flat jokes and thin plot development and that's all.

Some of you have survived strenuous marathons, physically exhausting ultra marathons, demanding triathlons…I have seen two Alvin and the Chipmunk movies. I believe I have demonstrated my superior endurance.

Hi, my name is Nitmos. I’m an Alvinholic. It’s been five days since I last used…

Happy trails.

* And the street value of chipmunk is astronomical. Especially in winter when the supply is low.