Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Presents...

Did we all survive Christmas? How many bottles did it take? For me, it was four…but I’m not going to tell you what size they were or what A.P.V. You’ll just have to guess. In fact, I’ll have to guess too. They don’t put that kind of information on ethanol jugs.

You can read my title line either way you wish: 2012 Presents, as in what Alfred Hitchcock used to do, or 2012 Presents, as in little sparkly wrapped treats I’ll be giving you in the next year. Again, I’m not going to decide for you. Ever try to write a blog post with a corn booze hangover? Decisions aren’t easily made.

But first, a look back: 2011 was a casual running year for me. I ran only two half marathons (or one full marathon depending on if you are a pessimist or an optimist). No 5ks. No 10ks. No relays. No jingle runs. No costume runs. No runs with friends where we mug for the camera and make an over excited WOOOO! sound that annoys everyone but the people involved with the photo. Nothing. Two wonely wittle waces. As formal events go, it’s my lightest year since the death of Kim Jung Il. If I was grading my race preparation and effort, they’d go like this:

Bayshore Half Marathon (May – 1:26:37): A-
Capital City River Run Half (September – 1:27:27): B+

Certainly decent scores. Those kinds of scores would get me in to the local community college and Michigan State University. However, not enough to get me into the state’s big enchilada, the University of Michigan. In other words, I definitely phoned a few interval runs in this year. I realized this when I started deciding how tired I was before I even started the first interval of a set. That is some serious half empty stuff right there. Or is it half phone? There I go mixing metaphors again. I mean to say, if a bear shits in the woods, it’s worth a bird in the hand.

ONWARD 2012!

Unless the Mayans are right, this should be a fantastic year! If they are correct, then it’ll at least still be very memorable. That’s called a win-win. I have a list of vows for the coming year. A statement of intents. As you would expect from this blog, there is a mix of running intents, non-running intents, surreal intents, disgusting intents, and very few purposes. We should all set goals in life. Goals are what we use to determine our level of failure and measure our disappointment in ourselves. They are very important.

Here are my 12 goals for 2012:

· Run the New York Marathon
· Eat at Chili’s less.
· Finally set a respectable 10k PR (i.e. run a second 10k!?!)
· Come to terms with fireworks: moderately fun or a colossal waste of time?
· Explore barefoot running (i.e. become a hippie). Immediately reject barefootism in favor of a hot shower.
· Fewer "arraignments".
· Use less profanity on this blog, around my kids, your kids, the neighbor kids, and the elderly. In addition, stop using profanity as a verb, as in I was motherfucked by that scowling mom because I called her hyper kid a ‘shit stain’. Also, celebrities are not verbs. I was not Sheened when I drank too much. I was not Tresseled by the cable company when they lied to me. I’ve never been Sanduskyed.
· Set another new half marathon PR. How ‘bout we get under 1:26 this coming year?
· Eat more carrots, less Tootsie Rolls.
· Use the word “veiny” less. I can see it’s really starting to turn people away from me.
· Decrease the amount of double entendres I use in daily conversation. I’ve thought about this long and hard.
· Run a relay (or two) with Mrs. Nitmos.

There you go, that’s my 12 for 12! Have you made your 12 for 12 list? Better get on that. Unless you provide the measuring tool, we’ll never be able to judge your failures in the coming year.

Now, back to that grain alcohol…

Have a Safe and Merry Christmas New Year.*

Happy New Year.

*Is “New Year” okay? I can’t remember what is offensive and what’s not these days…

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Minimalist Christmas

I had this high concept post all set to put together. It was going to be a takeoff of A Christmas Carol (i.e. A Minimalist Christmas Carol) in which a non-minimalist like myself is taught the error of his ways. It was going to be SPECTACULAR. But it was also going to be EXHAUSTING. You can tell by the larger font – and Trebuchet script – that exhausting won out. No Christmas Carol. Not this year. I don’t get paid enough to overcome my exhaustion.

But let me tell you about what I learned while visiting Chicago over the last few days: Minimalism lives in our hearts and minds whether we know it or not. It’s simply that our definitions differ as to what constitutes “minimalism”. Your minimalism may be my cheapskatism; my Nitmos level hedonism – which I call minimalism - may be your maximalism. Who’s the judge?

This struck me as we were making our way up Ontario St. Tuesday afternoon for a day of decadent shopping on Chicago's ritzy Michigan Ave. A bum sat on the sidewalk wrapped in a holey blanket with tattered gloves extending a Styrofoam cup as if offering us free hot coffee. The bum, a housing minimalist, seemed quite content – even eerily detached – from the rest of the throngs of shoppers whose bags from Macys, American Girl and Bloomingdales bounced off his patchwork knees on their way to their suburban homes and stabilized 401ks.

Did the hobo seem upset that, as a homeowner minimalist, he was being attention minimalized by the masses? No, as I said, he was offering free coffee. Or, at least, I thought it was free coffee until I took a cup, raised it to my lips, and tasted the disgusting metallic tang of hobo fondled coins and the ghosts of vomits past. Looking in the cup at the bonanza of pennies and dimes, I realized he was also apparently a dollar bill minimalist (as well as a bath minimalist, fruits and vegetables minimalist, enunciation minimalist, front teeth minimalist, but, oddly, alcohol maximalist – until I flipped that upside down and realized he wasn’t an alcohol maximalist but a sobriety minimalist. See? There’s always a different angle at which to view the same thing to make it minimalist).

There were home minimalists all around the city but they never bothered anyone. In fact, after a while, it seemed that their shaking coins in the cup were playing a little song. I thought I detected O Christmas Tree amongst the rattle of nickels and sloshing vomit. I took their anguished faces as a perfected form of minimalist joy. Really, it is truly a matter of perspective.

I almost took pity – misplaced pity – while walking out of American Girl with my daughter’s ridiculously expensive doll, ice skating outfit and winter doll clothes. I reached back for my wallet – something I’d already done a dozen times that day at various stores around the city – and felt a muscle twang in my neck. The housing minimalist eagerly shook his cup harder as O Christmas Tree turned into a frantic Jingle Bells. But, damn that neck pain hurt, so I held up my hand and said “No, not today, I’m sore from paying for too much stuff already. Merry Christmas!” I couldn’t understand the mangle of words that came back at me but I’m pretty sure it was something to the order of, “Thank you anyway and you have an attractive family and your shoulders are very broad.” Yes, it’s true, in shoulders I’m a maximalist. Bums are perceptive, you must give them that!

We dropped money on Chicago like we are disciples of the Mayan calendar. Perhaps we’ll be housing minimalists by this time next year (when the world ends anyhow). I was going to get my colt some minimalist shoes (i.e. a box filled with air) but instead sprung $85 on a pair of new ones at Adidas. We could have gone all the way to $220 for a new pair but, keeping in the minimalist spirit, we opted for the cheaper pair. He got back to the hotel and decided he didn’t really like them after all so we ended up tossing them in the garbage as a hobo pressed his face and hands to the outside window glass and warbled something at us that sounded an awful lot like “I love my dishwasher box house.”

In the end, after two days of shopping, museuming, gorging, ice skating and spending as if money was something the city needed but something I could do without, we loaded up our boxes and bags to the roof of the trunk and started the three and a half hour drive home. I believe we learned something about minimalism those days. Something we can take with us as a life lesson. It’s not about the size of your home. It’s not whether your home is water soluble. It’s not whether your breath smells like a cross between onions and a week old diaper. It’s not whether you use toilet paper versus the side of your hand. And it’s certainly not about whether or not you can make two minimalists fight by waving a $20 bill under Wacker Dr.* It’s about being thankful for what you have. It’s about true minimalism…and the perspective from which you define it. I believe that fits nicely with the Christmas spirit.

The Nitmos family didn’t want to offend the sense of minimalism on display on the streets of Chicago. That would have been an affront to the lifestyle. And, though we spent an obscene amount of money on things that barely interest us, the truth is, we could have spent so much more. So, in a way, we are minimalists at heart as well. It’s truly a Christmas miracle!

When I strap on my $100 pair of Asics 2160 running shoes for my next run, I’ll know that I could have spent twice that amount on shoes with thicker soles and better ergonomic comfort. But I’ve adopted the spirit of minimalism thanks to the contented mortgage minimalists on Michigan Ave. Whether they want it or not, I’ll shiver for them as I nudge up the thermostat on those cold winter days. I don’t know what it is, I’m an ole softy this time of year.

As Tiny Tim (and, coincidentally, Hobo Jim) would say, “God bless us one and all!”

Jim did belch out “motherfuckers” at the end but that was the malt liquor talking. The sentiment was the same.

Have a Merry, Magical, and Minimalist Christmas and, by contrast, a Decadent and Maximalist New Years!!

Happy Holidays. (That's right, I said "holidays". I'm not sorry if this offends as I'm an empathy minimalist.)

* You can. I didn’t see who won. We grew bored and wandered off before they finished.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jorge Santini, Mayor of Christmastown

I’m sure you’ve already seen this beautiful and festive Christmas card – who hasn’t? – but it’s worth another look, if only to fill up another notch on my bed post, er, post list.Jorge Santini, Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, would like to wish you a Merry Christmas through the unique medium of taxidermy, murder, and fear! I have to admit, when I think of Christmas, I often think of Rudolph, Santa, leopard’s murdering antelopes, and Frosty the Snowman so this fits right in with a typical card I’d give and receive during the holiday* season. To be fair (and those of you who receive a card from yours truly know this already), I also try to incorporate a midget dressed as an elf flipping the bird while standing on stool sodomizing a reindeer (wearing a Santa hat – I try to keep it light-hearted) above the caption “I Hope Christmas Rips You a New One!” or “Here’s To Hoping You’re the Elf of 2012!” Really, what’s a holiday card without bestiality and/or antelope consumption?

Those of you that are lucky enough to receive a card from me will have to wait to see what I put together for you this year. But I suggest you keep the kids out of the room when you open it. Gasps, shrieks, and puffed out cheek vomit suppression expressions are just the kind of things that tickle a youngsters imagination. Those of you who don’t get a card from me should take a good hard look in the mirror. I sent one to Casey Anthony…just sayin’.

Instead, you can enjoy the following photo. Last year, I selected a “race photo of the year” like I was going to make it some sort of tradition. Now, it just seems like work. Fortunately, I can really choose any old race photo and you’d never know as my physique, hair cut, clothing, and rugged masculinity barely change over time. (Compare this year’s race photo selection below with last year’s at the bottom of this post. Notice the wardrobe! Fashion!) So, here’s “this year’s” race photo of the year:

That’s me studding the eventual 3rd place overall female half marathoner. If you read that race report, you’d know that scowl comes from the rampant sexism I was targeted with on that course. And that was a HUGE lesson for me in 2011: Be the one making the sexist comments, not receiving them.

So, who does that leave? Most of the world receives a personalized Christmas card from me delivered by postal service to your front door. Those that don’t get to enjoy my 2011 Race Photo of the Year above adorned with a festive holiday** spirit (it's those type of finer photoshopped touches I know you crave from F.M.S.). If you don’t want that hacked up picture, find yourself in the first group. Your fault, not mine. After that, there really should only be a few of you left. If you don’t fall into one of the other two groups, that basically means I either (a) don’t like you or (b) loathe you or (c) know you are already on Jorge Santini’s Christmas card list. Tough stuff for you. You may then deal with the following Christmas card because I hate llamas:

Fuck those filthy animals. Sucks to be you.

Happy Holidays.***

*Sorry particular cable news station, “Christmas” season.
**Sorry…”Christmas spirit”.
***Sorry…”Happy Christmas”.

P.S. Sorry, kids, looks like Christmas may be cancelled this year. This just appeared on the blotter:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Runners: Don't Drink the Water

There’s disturbing news out of Sin City that may radically change the way a runner approaches a race or, at least, a marathon. Health officials are digging through runners’ post –race poo to get to the bottom of things. I’m not shitting you. And they are not just finding full corn kernels, undigested peanuts, and granola. BEWARE: There was something in the water at the Las Vegas Marathon:

LAS VEGAS -- Health officials are testing stool samples from runners in the Rock `n' Roll Marathon in Las Vegas who say water passed out during the race made them sick.

Southern Nevada Health District officials are testing for stomach flu and other diseases, and expect results later this week. An online survey they've posted has already drawn responses from more than 800 participants.

The Dec. 4 event drew about 44,000 participants, who paid up to $179 to run a half or full marathon. Dozens of runners posted stories on Facebook about nausea, vomiting and severe stomach pain after the race.

Race organizers had filled plastic-lined garbage cans with hydrant water, which was used to fill cups offered to racers along the course – a standard practice, marathon officials say. Volunteers wearing plastic gloves dipped cups into the garbage cans before passing the water to runners.

While some runners complained that the water tasted odd or unclean, Las Vegas Valley Water District officials say the hydrant water was tested and found to be safe days before the race.

Runner Charlene Ragsdale, 50, said she became violently ill during the half marathon and was treated for hypothermia and dehydration at a hospital.

"We've got to find an answer to keep this from happening again," Ragsdale told the Review-Journal. "I think (the health district) realizes they're looking for a needle in a haystack."source

As you know, I’m not one to overreact but it seems pretty clear to me: Don’t drink water when racing unless you want to vomit and shit yourself. And you can’t trust the Gatorade either. It might have been made with the same fire hydrant water mixed with powder. My best advice going forward? Either carry your own or don’t drink anything. Most of us can go 3-4 hours without any water. I do it all the time when I sleep. Next time a volunteer, aka “poisoner”, tries to give you a cup full of refreshing bacteria-filled shit water, I suggest you hold up your hand and say “No thanks, I’d rather not shit myself today.” I don't care how thirsty you are. Think you have a bad cramp and need water? Think how that cramp will feel with diarrhea running down your leg.

At least until this water fiasco is figured out, this is official F.M.S. policy and best advice: DO NOT DRINK ANYTHING WHEN RUNNING A MARATHON. You’re welcome, runners. Also, please note that I cannot be held accountable for my actions, your actions, dehydration, death, or dismemberment. Also, though I am smarter than most doctors, I am not a "doctor", at least officially, as I don’t have a fancy “degree” or a rubber “mallet” or a prescription pad for “legal” drugs.

No offense to Charlene “Violently Ill” Ragsdale, who thinks the mystery source of the Las Vegas shit water will be like finding a “needle in a haystack”, but maybe she should have looked two paragraphs above. Garbage cans, plastic lined (i.e. garbage bags in garbage cans), fire hydrant water, volunteers dipping hands and cups repeatedly in garbage can, handing cups to sweaty runners, hands undoubtedly rubbing against sweaty runner hands, repeat dipping motion into community pool of water in garbage can, sweat transferring to garbage can water. That’s a pretty BIG needle in that small haystack. For one, the repeated appearance of “garbage” is a tip off.

But until health officials solve this difficult conundrum, let’s not drink anymore water. The race organizer’s claim this method of water delivery is "standard practice" but I think they are full of shit. And now we are full of shit.

Or puke or stomach pain, what have you. I miss the days when I just had to worry about calve cramps and heart attacks.

Happy trails.

Apparently, something similar happened at the California International Marathon as well. It's an epidemic!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Jiggle Belly

Jiggle belly, jiggle belly, jiggle belly rock
Jiggle belly swing and jiggle belly sway
Bouncing and wiggling up farts of fun
Now the jiggle burp has begun

Jiggle belly, jiggle belly, jiggle belly rock
Jiggle belly bulges as jiggle belly gorges
Wobble and gobble at the local buffet
In a chilled parfait

What a hungry time, it’s always dinner time
To snack the night away

Jiggle belly time is a swell time
To go chowing a horse from a sleigh
Giddy-up jiggle horse, ingest all but your feet
Jiggle around the clock

Mix and a-mingle in the jiggling belly
That’s the jiggle belly,
That’s the jiggle belly,
That’s the jiggle belly rock!
I’ve been paying for my sins lately. My sin? Gluttony. And an uncommonly strong, masculine jaw line. But gluttony, that’s the main one. Starting in the middle of October, I kicked off a feeding frenzy that is only now just subsiding. We have no more food in the house. No Tootsie Rolls. No cheeses of any denomination. No beets. The curtains are missing chunks. My formerly quadrupedal dog is now a tripod. Great for positioning a self timing camera for our same-sweater-wearing Christmas photo but not so good for Frisbee catching. Ever eat a carburetor? Not without syrup. And where did the TV remote go?

I’ve hit most of my planned runs. Those that have been missed were wept over through salty Dorito tears. I even felt a little ashamed trying to catch the falling tears with my tongue. Gluttony, the most delicious of the Seven Deadly Sins…until it turns to LUST. That’s when you’ve got a problem. You know there’s a monkey on your back but you wonder how he’d taste lightly salted and deep fried. And then you wonder how that monkey would look in a little ensemble from Victoria’s Secret…while lightly salted and deep fried. Simians, so sexy -and low fat - with their progressively developed cerebral cortexes!

I knew I had put on a few pounds lately. One of the byproducts of being required to go to a doctor’s office every 8 weeks for a new supply of ridiculously expensive pharmaceuticals* is that I have a near constant update on my current weight and blood pressure. I’ve gained 6 pounds since the September half marathon. If pounds were like blog posts, that would be like 5 more funny ones than Ian has written this year. There’s some junk in my trunk. There’s some jiggle in my belly. I’m not ready to break out the elastic-banded wind pants – though, admittedly, I’m wearing them now – and flannel shirts but I have looked enviously at the motorized carts in my local grocery store. They may be primarily for the fatties and disabled but who says laziness isn’t a form of disability?

Really, it’s a sad state of affairs when my cholesterol is higher than my last two month’s mileage. Either I need to run more or eat less but neither seems appealing at the moment.

But press on I do. So it was no surprise at my track yesterday when I could physically feel my tiny little first trimester belly jiggling as I made my way around the track for some 800’s. It wiggled; I struggled. It wobbled; I stumbled. Sometime during the third interval I could feel that little fucking monkey biting me in the back of the neck. Ohhhh, the fisting beating he was going to receive!

After three meager intervals, I crossed the line, hit Stop on my Garmin and immediately, well, STOPPED. Usually, I slow up going into a turn, letting the heart rate ease gradually before coming to a complete stop. Not this time. Between the jiggle, the monkey, and the cold, biting wind that I had been gulping mouthfuls of over the last 8 laps, I needed to stop. Now. So I did. And then I came as close as I have all year to a nice puke. I heaved, my cheeks puffed out, and my neck convulsed but….I choked it back down. It didn’t come back up. It was like eating at McDonald’s. It’s mind over matter. But that matter almost splattered everywhere. Eight weeks worth of Halloween candy, cheap beer, pizza, and over indulgence nearly painted the track a vomitous brown.

Fuck that monkey. I need to get back in shape a bit. I hit the 800’s in my goal time but, damn, it shouldn’t have been that hard. And I shouldn’t have stood on the puke threshold to do it. The jiggle belly has got to go no matter how catchy of a tune it makes.

I ran home with a taste of vomit and peppermint candy canes in the back of my throat, grabbed some veggies for lunch, and manually switched on the TV. Then, I plopped down in a chair for some Yes, Dear reruns to console me. But the channels starting switching like crazy. So I got back up, returned Yes, Dear to my screen and flopped in the chair again. And the channels starting flipping. But only if I sat on my right ass cheek. I leaned left and Yes, Dear remained.

How many triglycerides in batteries?

Happy trails.

*Two grand a month to keep my joints from feasting on themselves. Plus, I get the fun of injecting myself. All the injections but none of the crystal meth! The least they could do would be to ring the medicine with a little meth, like salt on a margarita lip, to give it some kick. Damn, cut a fella a break. How 'bout a little taste?!?

Programming Note: I won’t be doing an elaborate Christmas themed series of posts like last year. If you’re disappointed, well, it’s a good lesson. You should get used to being disappointed here. It’s really the engine that drives this machine. Read December 2010 for old time sakes if you want a “theme”. Now, get outta here.

Friday, December 02, 2011

My Lonely Weider

(Look, based on the title alone, you and I are both expecting a wave of double entendres in the text below. I’ve created this situation for myself and I’ll need to wallow in it. However, I’m going to defy the odds. I’ve gone through this post with a fine tooth lice comb and cleverly removed any that accidentally slipped in. I won't give in to cheap entendres. If you still see them, that’s your problem, man.)

Down here in my basement, I have this little secret trapped in a corner under a pile of basement rubble, lonely and scared. The last time I used it, my body got tight, erect, and veiny. Things bulged that normally don’t. I perspired. I grunted. In the end, I lost all respect for it by the time I headed upstairs. I haven’t used it in months.

I’m talking about my work out bench, sickos. (Everyone knows that a gimp goes in a trunk and not “under a pile of basement rubble”, sheesh.)

I have a Joe Weider work out bench in the corner of my basement. I may be the only person in America who still knows who Joe Weider is. He created the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding contest and, thus, unintentionally created the amateur Mr. Douchebag contest in gyms all across North America. We can also thank him for The Jersey Shore, I’m sure. I can’t say for sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also responsible for baggy, multi-colored gym pants:

Ugly gym pants? Check. Tiger shirt? Check. Is that a fanny pack? Check. The trifecta! Congrats, dude.

Mrs. Nitmos bought me the Weider work out “system” nearly twenty years ago. In the early 90’s, it was fashionable to get all pumped up and veiny and wear these horrific multi-colored baggy pants. MOAR tiger stripes the better! Back then, Schwarzenegger was still a huge star. Stallone had already made Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot so his career was basically over but muscles were generally IN. Hilariously, I would pump some iron and then, in between reps, step outside for a Camel cigarette. Pathetic, really. I was one pair of tiger stripe gym pants away from being a complete douche. Thankfully, my needle stuck at ¾’s douche.

Until last spring, I’d still use it nearly every week though. You may have noticed lately that my blog posts have come in considerably less mass and definition. My fingers are looking downright anorexic lately. My knuckles are a bit paunchy. I’m hitting the QWERTY keys with less force and authority. Back in my weight lifting peak, the three most common questions I’d get were:

1) Dude, how did you get so ripped?
2) Is there a time when you don’t wear a tank top?
3) Why are you carrying a trident?

Over the years, I transitioned from weight lifting heavier things to lower weight but higher reps. This would also be the time I moved from playing basketball regularly to running. An extra ten pounds of muscle helps when taking elbows in the middle of the back from a 6’5” behemoth in the paint; it doesn’t do so well in a marathon. In fact, a few years back, I started moving from straight weight lifting to stretchy banding (memorialized here) and core strengthening. Combine that with the running and I certainly look scrawnier but feel much healthier. Oh, and I don’t smoke Camels anymore. That’s a good tip right there. Put that one in your back pocket.

My Weider sits over there in the corner all sad and lonely under a pile of marathon posters that I’ll probably never hang anywhere. (Why’d I even take them?) I’m quite content with the running, the stretchy bands and the endless core exercises on the living room floor while plowing through episodes of the TWO BEST SHOWS ON TV.* Things have changed a bit since the days of ugly gym pants. Now, the three most common questions I get are:

1) Can you pick my son up for the soccer game?
2) Where did you get those loafers? J.C. Penney?
3) Tell me again why you carry that trident?

With the cold, winter weather rolling in, I was thinking about whipping out my Weider and playing with it a bit. Why not get a little pumped, a little engorged, a little veiny? For purely nostalgic reasons, I may pump it until I’m drained but satisfied. In other words, this winter I may spend a lot more time playing with my Weider.


Happy trails.

*Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad. If you ain’t watching them, you ain’t cool. You might as well buy yourself some tiger stripe gym pants and watch Jersey Shore.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Devil in the White Dress

That giant depressed sigh you heard last evening came from the Midwest. Not any one place in particular…just kind of everywhere. Collectively, we all looked out the window at the innocent-looking, fluttering flakes accumulating in inches and heaved a gentle, defeated sigh. Last night, the Devil returned to mid-Michigan wearing his (her?) white dress.*

You would think that, having lived my entire life in this region, I’d dourly accept this fate. The Devil always sweeps in this time of year with a train of cold, wet ice and snow leaving a wake of downed power lines, ditched cars, and frustrated runners. Traditionally, white is the color of angels. Not in my book. It’s White Death, White Hate, and White Menace. White is the color your body parts turn when blood – liquid life - is removed. White is the face of a vampire. White is my face when threatened with watching another vampire Twilight movie.** What color do things turn when they die? Do they whither and turn red or black? No, they turn white. White is the color of death and it’s all over my running trails.

Perhaps I’m being over dramatic *** but I’m pretty sure this region is basically uninhabitable. On November 29th we received the first snow fall of the winter. There’s a decent chance that the last snow fall will occur on April 29th….FIVE MONTHS LATER. Of course, you’ll always get the contrarians among us who will loudly proclaim how Michigan enjoys ALL FOUR SEASONS – isn’t it great! – we have it so good here. The problem, of course, is that winter lasts 5 months, a typically cold spring another 2 months, summer just 2 months, and then right into fall for 3 months. Notice how many warm months are in there? We have all four seasons for sure but they sure aren’t equal partners.

Maybe I’m just being pissy as well as over dramatic. A new marathon was announced recently for its inaugural run next year. I was excited. There is currently no marathon in the local vicinity. I could sleep in my own warm little bed, eat my own little porridge out of my own little bowl, take my pre-race nervous crap in my own little crapper, and come home to my own little refrigerator for my own little post-race beer.

But then I found out the race is on April 22nd. Seriously?? That means the 20+ mile training runs need to be completed in February and March. In Michigan. Most likely, in several inches of snow and ice. What dented head set this up? No, thanks. I’ll continue driving elsewhere and sleep in a cold, unfamiliar bed, eat a stranger’s porridge (t.w.s.s.), crap into an unfriendly porcelain bowl. My excitement was quickly smothered. The devil was in the details.

On this blog, you never hear me complain about the heat. Not even when its 100 degrees and I’m doing 16 miles. But you sure as hell are going to hear me complain about the snow. For five months. Brace yourself. I spy 23 more f-bombs to describe the snow and cold ahead!

It is no good casting out devils. They belong to us, we must accept them and be at peace with them.
D. H. Lawrence
The dance with the devil has just begun. I'll submit because I need my miles so I’ll do the Two-Step; I’ll do the Fox Trot; I may even do some Dirty Dancing (because the Devil never puts me in the corner). Heck, I maaay even let him get away with a reach around – idle appendages are the devil’s playthings after all - but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Unless winter lasts longer than 5 months. A fella can only hold out for so long. Tee-hee.

Happy shoveling.

*Not making a slur here…just saying he dresses somewhat FAHBULOUS (snap snap) to not at least ask the question.
**For the record, I did see the first two Twilights as rentals. I have kids, don’t judge. But it does allow me to know that of which I speak. Those movies are horrible. Seriously, horrible. And I’ve watched a lot of dreck in my life. Those two Twilight movies rank right down there with the dreckiest of dreck right along with the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies (I have kids, don’t judge, again.)
***Hard to believe right? You’ll need to excuse the devlish imagery. I’m smack in the middle of The Master and the Margarita and the scene where Margarita, doused in blood, is drawn into Satan’s Ball. After you’ve enjoyed the descriptions of Woland and his retinue, you’ll never see the devil any other way…if you go about seeing the devil, that is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tips for a Pleasant Thanksgiving

First, remember to cut left to right in one continuous motion with a sharp blade….

Proper drainage is important. Your family will appreciate the difference! If you don’t home slaughter, ask your local butcher or grocer for graphic details on how the turkey draining is handled.

Other tips:

· A turkey’s esophagus can be turned into a wonderful coke snorting straw to help you get through the family gathering. (Bonus tip: Eyeballs serve as corks for either end for easy transporting! And since its all natural, it won’t show on an airport rectum scanner.) I’m like the Martha Stewart of turning animal parts into handy drug paraphernalia crafts!

· As you know, there is a War on Thanksgiving.* Please confront anyone that says “Happy T-Day” or “Happy Turkey Day” with the proper “No, Happy THANKSGIVING!” with extra emphasis on the THANKS part. Also, be needlessly indignant and condescending as if their greeting was intended to be some sort of political message. You can’t take the THANKS out of Thanksgiving after all. It’s the reason for the season!

· Since the first Thanksgiving actually occurred in 1621 –well before the formation of the United States – this should actually be considered a British holiday. So feel free to get ridiculously drunk and repeatedly proclaim that you ain’t gonna celebrate no holiday for the Monarchy. While you’re doing it, you could toss in a horrible British accent and sprinkle in “old chap” into your diatribe.

· Make sure to run. A lot. It’s a great reason to get out of the house and away from the “beloved” relatives. Heck, even if you don’t feel like running, you could at least tell people you are going to do five miles, put on your running clothes, and then sit out in the woods behind the house with either a pack of cigarettes or the turkey esophagus for 45 minutes.

· Remember that, no matter how miserable you are, you still aren’t nearly as miserable as every character in a Twilight movie. Oh, and don’t go see a Twilight movie. They are horrible.

· Thanksgiving only lasts one day (or 2-3 days if the relatives insist on staying). You can survive it. And then you have at least three weeks to recharge before Xmas. You’ve run trail runs, half marathons, full marathons and/or ultra marathons. You can do this too! Thanksgiving is an endurance sport too.

· Drink terrible beer like Schiltz or Stroh’s or Pabst. You don’t want this awful family gathering to ruin your favorite beer. Think cognitive association here. Grueling holiday + favorite beer may associate your beer to something bad. No good. Go all in on the misery…drink Schlitz.

I hope you all have a Happy THANKSgiving! Also, Happy Holidays. Yeah, that’s right I said HOLIDAYS instead of Christmas. That means I’m making a political statement. I’m wishing you a Happy Holiday rather than a Merry Christmas, want to fight about it?**

Here's to hoping you don't want to cut your own neck, like the turkey above, by the time this is through! Game on.

Happy T-Day.

*Seriously, I watch cable news and they tell me this all the time so it must be true.
**Isn’t the derivative meaning of “holiday”, “holy day”? Am I missing something? I’m too exhausted to care.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to Increase Blog Traffic Without Even Trying!

Many of you may be wondering how, after five years of blogging, I’ve built such a pathetically meager audience. Obviously, I’m filthy-mouthed, sarcastic, have an unusual preoccupation with llamas, and insult you all on a regular basis. If I haven’t offended you yet, stick around, it’s coming.

Wait, what am I trying to communicate here? How to drive the rest of you leeches away? No, this about how you maintain a core audience of degenerates while never, ever expanding. If you would like to have similar crews of sycophantic reader monkeys – such as yourself - as your audience, follow these, er, following steps:

1) Insult people in their own blog comments.

If you aren’t making enemies, you aren’t trying. Call someone a sycophantic monkey in their own blog comments. If they come by and insult you back, game on! And then let the blog hits follow. People love a good sissy name-calling fight. Donald Trump tries to do it all the time with Rosie O’Donnell and look how popular they are. I may have even done it once or twice myself.

2) Pretend to Know Things

Many of you already employ the ‘here’s more running advice’ technique. Hell, I do it myself all the time. It’s great because (a) it makes you seem smart (b) it makes you seem compassionate to share this valuable information (c) you aren’t a professional so no one can call you on it and (d) provides cover for the real purpose of your blog: to insult people and hurt peoples’ feelings. Reader monkeys will keep coming back if they think what you’re saying sounds intelligent. Try deploying a few “listen to your body” references - love those! -when discussing a training technique. No one knows what that means but it sure sounds like solid, unassailable, No Shit Sherlockian advice. Give me more of that!

3) Take a Contrarian Position

When the whole brouhaha over the BAA changing the Boston Marathon qualification standards occurred last Spring, every bloghole with a blog decided to give their opinion that, basically, they didn’t like it. No shit, Sherlock. Some tried to sound all understanding and created thousands of words that ultimately could have been said with a shoulder shrug and a “well, that’s what they want to do sooooo…whaddya going to do?” I even took Boston to task by basically saying eff you and your race.*

I like to take the opposite approach. Want to get a running coach? You’re an idiot. When have you ever seen softball guy with a softball coach? C’mon, get off your high horse, amateur. See? That right there pissed off four dozen of my reader monkeys. They are deciding right now whether to leave a comment or quietly fume and click elsewhere, to a safer spot, so that they can be reminded to wear bright clothing when running in the dark. Either way, they’ll come back to laugh, cry, fume, or click away in an angry huff. No matter the emotion, it all counts as one hit. Notice how often I like to stoke this fire? Remember: Use your blog for Good (i.e. to anger people).

4) Porn.

Dirty porn (obvs.) The more ponies, the better (obvs).

5) Tie Your Blog to Already Popular Movies, Images, or Skeevy Searches

You want to know the most popular reason folks come here, besides pure animal attraction, on days when I don’t have a new post? That would be this post. There are apparently a ton of folks trying to find this image on Google and I, apparently, am near the top of that search list (search for ‘Shitter is full’ and good ole F.M.S. is near the top of the results!) In fact, I have a few images that I’ve “borrowed” that create traffic all by themselves. They are

1 Shitter is Full
2 Inbreds
3 Hello Kitty nipples

The Eastern Europeans (and one particular household in Happy Valley, PA!) seem to really love their "Hello Kitty nipple" searches. I don’t want to know what that’s all about but, it got so bad, that I actually went back and removed the words and images from the original post just to prevent Interpol from knocking on my door one day. See? Of course, now that I’ve relinked the words “Hello Kitty “ and “nipples” (as well as “dirty porn”) to my site, I can safely say WELCOME BACK, EASTERN EUROPEANS!

But maybe, for some reason, you don’t wanna be like me. Maybe you like llamas, you want to dispense fairly obvious advice in an innocuous setting, and you have something against image stealing and dirty porn. Whatev….you do what’s best for you and your blog, reader monkeys, because, at the very least, you should always listen to your body.

Follow these 5 steps and I have no doubt that your blog will also barely register as existing on the internet! However, you may trap a few unfortunate folks in your net. Look, just by the title alone, I’ll no doubt bring a few people here thinking they are actually going to get good advice about How to Increase Blog Traffic. Instead, they got references to pony sex so maybe they should have just LISTENED TO THEIR BODIES and not come here at all.


Happy saddling...and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

*But since I totally want to run Boston again, I didn’t mean any of that. Hugs and kisses. Did I ever mention that your new qualifying standards go great with your eyes?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Randumbery Reads the Fine Print

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


Remember how I got all indignant like two posts ago because my automatic qualification for the 2012 NYC Marathon was yanked right from under me by newly revised time standards? Remember how I whined, went all ethnocentric, and made up a new, slightly blasphemous character named Jesus H. Beardsley and then put him on a Popsicle stick?

Welp, it turns out that one of my anonymous readers is a more diligent reader than I. I was so focused on the new chart showing age/time standards for automatic entry into New York going forward that I didn’t bother to read the fine print. Underneath the chart announcing the time standard for a 40 year old shifting from 1:30 to 1:23 for a half marathon qualifier, it says:

Because the 2012 race qualifying period is already open, this new policy will take effect beginning with the 2013 race.

You know what that means right? NYQ! NYQ! NYQ! In other words, I don’t have to put my name into a lottery like some unwashed commoner. Nitmos deserves his special treatment and it appears that New York also desires to massage his shoulders and give him a manny/peddy!

Now, I need to be quick on the draw once the registration opens – usually not a problem for me. Have you booked your room yet? I have…just in case. I want to be as close as possible to those high class New York hookers.*

Speak of the Devil

Dick Beardsley was in my nape of the woods…neck of the wape…he was here the other day. The guy keeps coming by my local running store…which is only about 2 miles from my house. Yeah, he’s a bit of a creeper. Probably drives a panel van.

Actually, I saw him speak two years ago – you can find that little write-up here – and he was a fascinating speaker. If he’s in your area, don’t be afraid to go and give him a listen. Very entertaining. If you were ever wary of threshers before, you’ll be downright scairt after.

I couldn’t go this time, restraining orders being what they are and all. Besides, at this point, there’s really nothing more left to say. It’s long past time for Duel in the Sun II: Tears of Beardsley**.

Health Scare

It’s time to sign up for health insurance again through my company! This is annually one of my favorite times of the year. It’s always clever how those wacky insurance carriers find new and incredibly deceptive ways to hide their decreased coverage and increased costs. It’s like a little demented game…find the new loophole that’ll screw you if you’re not careful!

I’m not Viperian frugal but I like to save a buck as much as the next Viper. Thus I try to find that perfect balance between decent coverage and cheapest out of pocket costs. What results, typically, is partial coverage. Case in point: Mrs. Nitmos wears glasses (or contacts). She’s a candidate for Lasik. But my carrier will only cover half the costs of Lasik. Well, I’m not a rich heartless banker, like Ian, so I can only pay so much. We compromised: She had one eye Lasiked but not the other. There is no need for glasses in one eye now – and I’m not going to pay for something unneeded – so now she wears a monocle. You’d be surprised how cheap you can buy a monocle. A lot of time, it comes with a free Charlie McCarthy doll.

Compromise! It’s what the Nitmos family does…

And that’s Randumbery for today, folks. Hey, here’s a completely unnecessary photo of my colt schooling some poor bow-legged kid. Left defender, away!Happy trails.

*The kind with less herpes.
**I’m still writing it but waiting for the obvious conclusion to unfold. I’ve already gotten some interest from a publishing house. When I sent off my draft, one house replied, “This is the least interesting sequel in the history of sequels. We’d be more interested in a book about a snake slowly ingesting a panda for 300 pages. Might have broader appeal”, which, I think, is pretty promising because who wouldn’t read a snake/panda book?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shadin' Away Again in Margaritaville

Be sure to drink your Ovaltine! Yep, you’re reading the first line of another commercial.

Well, not so much a “commercial” as a “product review”. And not so much “Ovaltine” as “Jimmy Buffett sunglasses”. Seriously, I have no idea how this ended up in my Inbox. I was offered a free pair of shades from an obvious Jimmy Buffett affiliated sunglass company called Margaritaville. They must have caught wind that I like to drink lots of rum, swing in hammocks, wear flowered beachwear, waste away again (and again and again)* and hate to squint. Since they gave me my selection of eyewear, the least I could do is offer an unbiased product review right?

This was an interesting product to receive free in exchange for a review. First, it only vaguely has anything at all to do with running. There are sunglasses made and marketed specifically for athletes. These are not those. There are blogs devoted to Jimmy Buffett, island life, or general interest in cheeseburgers and/or paradise. This is not that. To my knowledge, I’ve never mentioned Buffett or created much discussion of sunglasses in any way. Yet, there it was…an email offering a free pair of $150+ sunglasses. Why? I don’t know but I know better than to - what’s the old saying? - look a gift Jimmy Buffett in the mouth.

Sunglasses and I generally don’t get along. We are a bad mix…like Jerry Sandusky and tickle fights.** My face, while initially sculpted by angels but finished rough-sawn by the Carpenter, is a tough match for most sunglasses. They are generally too wide, too round, too douchebaggy for my smallish, angular skull. In fact, one of my hobbies is trying on sunglasses at nearly every store we enter that sells them. Somewhere, the perfect match exists…if only I could find it! I usually leave as disappointed as Mrs. Nitmos after our own tickle fight. I knew right off that ordering online was going to be tricky. I selected the Cayman model as it looked to be one of the smaller lenses but had the highest potential to make me look like Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. (I don’t care what Abercrombie and Fitch says about me either, Mike. Word.)

That’s the Cayman model I received above. You won’t find a picture of me wearing them. As usual, they are too big for my face. I look less like The Situation and more like Ponch from CHiPS. They came in a nice little dry textured case (which makes me lick my fingers every time I touch it). They are as light as Erik Estrada’s coiffed, feathery look. I could see where they would be very runnable if you wanted to do that. You can barely feel them on your face. Like The Situation himself, there’s almost nothing to them.

They wear well. They shade well. They smell, well, like nothing in particular but that’s hardly important. What’s important is that Jimmy Buffett can wear them, The Situation can wear them, Erik Estrada can wear them. Hell, even YOU can wear them and pull it off. Me? Not so much.

The sunglasses are obviously a quality product. I’m sure you can find something at Margaritaville that’ll work for you. At the very least, I found something myself…a newly ignited desire for another ChiPS reunion. (Duh Duh Da-Dat Daaaahhh.) But, seriously, light, high quality, a little palm tree outline on the frame…

But now I’m just repeating things like a trained parrot.

Happy shading.

*And again and again and again.
**too soon?

Friday, November 11, 2011

American Wins NYC Marathon!

…if finishing 6th counts as “winning” (duh). But what was I suppose to announce: A Kenyan Wins A Marathon? Yeah, right, I guess I could bury that headline right below Sky is Blue, Tootsie Rolls Are Delicious Little Gobs of Fecally-Reminiscent Goodness, and Guy Fieri Annoys Mankind. That’s not “news”. “News” is something, you know, new. But with all of the sensationally awful news coming from Penn State these days, it’s hard to get an eye-grabbing headline out there.*

Meb Keflezighi finished 6th in New York last Sunday with a time of 2:09:13. That’s pretty good. Not Dick Beardsley good. He ran a 2:08:53 at 1982 Boston (aka “Duel in the Sun”) however, as I’ve established, he’s a Gu shooting Runzilla that patrols Heartbreak Hill shredding runners’ calf muscles. As far as I know, Meb does not have a Godzilla lower body nor shoot lasers and Gu from his eye sockets so, considering his disadvantages, that’s a pretty solid effort.

What will it take for an American – heck, a Canadian (don’t snicker) or a European – to win a marathon major? Do we need a Rob Sloan kind of effort?

Maybe New York is just waiting for…ME.** A natural born American hasn’t won New York since 1979 (Bill Rodgers). Meb (2009) and Alberto Salazar (3 times) won it since but, like Obama***, they were born elsewhere and later became Americans. I was born in Michigan. I have all of my teeth, never played Spin the Bottle with an unattractive relative, and, during two winters of my youth, spent an inordinate amount of time on a snowmobile. I’m as American as excessive flag waving and an inflated sense of entitlement. So, why not me? I feel like I’m entitled. U-S-A, U-S-A!

One little problem. You see, after the whole Boston dust-up this year where they reworked the entrance requirements (i.e. tightened the standards forcing all of us to work harder), I figured it was the first domino that would eventually sweep through all of the major marathons. Every large, popular race would re-evaluate their registration process/entrance requirements. New York, known for its exhaustive lottery system, also has a backdoor entrance. Well, I’m a backdoor kind of guy.****For 2011, a man of my age could automatically qualify and avoid the lottery by running a half marathon in less than 1:30. Really, just 1:30? Really. So, bingo, I knocked off a couple of 1:26-7ish’s this year preparing for the 2012 registration. Based on 2011 standards, I was NYQ’ed!

You can see where this is going right?

That’s right, sons of bitches changed the standard for 2012. I knew it was probably coming but hoping they wouldn’t adjust for one more year. Or, at least, it’d only drop to 1:27. To auto-qualify for 2012, now I’d have to run below 1:23 in a half marathon. 1:23? Am I a fucking ROBOT? Who does that? Do they not realize how many Tootsie Rolls I’ve been eating? Jesus H. Beardsley on a popsicle stick…that’s quite a requirement change.

They’ve also renovated the traditional lottery system so, if you were interested, you better check the new requirements. All of these changes seem designed to specifically keep me away from their marathon. Clever...a more subtle version of a restraining order. I guess they’re not interested in a natural born American winner. And, make no mistake, I was coming to win.

Well, I still want to run NY just to put another notch on my Asics so…I could chance it in the lottery or roll up my sleeves and make my dreams a reality through my sweat, determination, and solid Midwestern work ethic.

In other words, lottery, here I come!

Happy trails.

*Could I suggest another though? How ‘bout “Man Continues Abusing Children For Years After All Notified Adults Have Met Their Legally Obligated, Contractual Reporting Requirements So, You Know, Not Their Fault”.
**See how I casually pivoted the conversation back to me? Don’t like it? Screw you, it’s my blog and narcissism reigns around here.
***Take it easy, just throwing the Tea Partiers a bone.
****You know what I mean.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tootsie Roll Challenge

I believe I professed my love for Tootsie Rolls a few weeks back buried deep within this post concerning my love for …spite (and anus waxing). If I need remind you, I believe Tootsie Rolls are little gobs of fecally-reminiscent goodness wrapped in a fun little pull and twist package! But, to be clear, the order of things I love from that post should go:

1. Tootsie Rolls
2. Spite
3. Anus waxing

Folks often get #1 and #3 mixed up and I advise you not to do so. The pull and twist open meets with substantially different results. Trust me…you do a 1-3 year stretch for orphanage arson and tell me they’re the same.

I was going to present a lengthy sonnet in Shakespearean iambic pentameter to really describe my fascination with the rolled Tootsie but said fuck it so all you get is a lousy haiku. Suck it, sonnets!

Tootsie Rolls are sweet
I Am Not Above Murder
To Obtain This Treat

With Halloween behind us, the Tootsie Roll supply is at its yearly high right now in the Nitmos home. We had pre-Halloween candy sales, Halloween, and then post-Halloween candy sales. I shook the kids down the moment they walked in the door Halloween night and confiscated their Rolls. There’s so much of this stuff coming into the house lately and disappearing that I’m like the John Wayne Gacy of Tootsie Rolls. I don’t even have to wear the clown make-up while eating them. I mean, I don’t have to…I just do that for fun.

But this is the danger season for those of us who like to watch my figure. Pre-Halloween, Halloween, post-Halloween, Thanksgiving, post-Thanksgiving leftovers, Hanukkah, Christmas parties, Christmas, Kwanzaa, excessive drinking to get through the holidays, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day football, there are some serious weight-bearing days ahead. Tootsie Rolls are just the start. My six pack abs turn to a half barrel kegger by mid-December. I no longer have to ask if that was a fart or a shart. Come December, it was a shart, definitely. If I get through a December day with anything less than three pair of underwear, it’s a win. The wallet in my back pocket is replaced with a travel size case of wet wipes. You get the point. I shart. A lot.

So, as a time chasing runner, how do I combat this? Years ago, I used to basically take December and January off. I’d run sporadically but a week or more may go by before I’d brush the crumbs off my chest and find my running shoes (usually being used as a beer cozy somewhere). Then I’d burp my way through three miles – miles that were previously quite easy – and then settle back in for more sloth and gluttony. This became too hard to keep bouncing back from each spring if I wanted to set new PR’s so there is no more taking December and January off. The gluttony still takes place – oh, I gluttony the hell out of December, believe me – but I put the slothfulness away.

With my Tootsie Roll consumption at an all time high this year, I decided I needed some additional motivation to keep this confection from clinging to my belly and slowing the legs. Turned sideways, they may look like little ab muscles on the outside but, believe me, they don’t take up residence in the gut that way. I’m still going to eat a truck load of them. So just how many miles do I need to run to keep things in check?

I figure one track lap interval = one Tootsie Roll. Or, you may consume four Tootsie Rolls to each mile (4:1 gluttony ratio). My Sunday long run will net me at least 40 Tootsie Rolls as a reward.

I challenge you to find your own successful Gluttony level. Snack size Snickers, Baby Ruth, and Butterfingers may have a slightly different consumption:miles ratio. You’ll need to figure this out by yourself. I suggest you eat lots of them but also keep running. The point at which you look in the mirror and don’t exhale in disgust saying Damn, I’m getting fat is probably the correct ratio. Eat up! Run on! Post your results! We can create the world’s largest candy consumption to miles gluttony ratio science experiment.

I’m planning a meager 4x800 (2:45 pace) at the track today. With cool down laps, that’s 11 total laps. If I don’t consume during the cool down, I figure I can unwrap and double fist 8 Tootsie Rolls between my fingers while I run. That’s one for each lap of the track, two for each interval. They'll be poking out of my knuckles like a set of Willy Wonka brass knuckles. By the time my intervals are complete, my fists will be empty. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Remember, there is no reason to deny yourself delicious snacks. Where there is a will, there is a way. Whether it be candy or beer or orphanage arson, there’s a mileage equivalent that can balance against your running. You just need to burn find it.

Happy trails.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hood To Coast: Two Minute Movie Review

Before I get my Ebert on, I’d like to remind everyone that I refuse to deploy the cliché “fine folks” to describe the company, person, or mysterious emailer that gives me free stuff to try out and review. Sure, the people that give me things are quite often “folks” and I’m also sure they are probably “fine”. But I try to avoid blog clichés so you’ll never see “fine folks” together in a single review sentence (outside of this tortured explanation, of course.) I even wrote about my feelings on this extremely important matter previously. Take a trip down memory lane. Now, on with the show…

I received a copy of HOOD TO COAST last week in an unmarked, standard issue post office padded envelope. Naturally, I assumed it was more of my regularly scheduled shipments of pornography. Instead, it was an actual movie: one I call a “Curtains Open” feature!

If you don’t know, Hood to Coast is a 197 mile relay journey from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. It’s billed as the world’s largest relay race with around 1,000 teams and 12,000 runners being stalked by 2,000 transport vans. Most of us have run some form of relay so you know what they are all about: camaraderie, sweaty people rubbing shoulders in vans, crazy costumes, and far too much discussion about each others’ pooping habits. Also, lots of high fives, “woo hoo’s”, and side split running shorts revealing pasty white thighs.

This movie has all of that. This movie also has mothereffin’ llamas. No kidding. When you watch, take note at around the 52 minute mark as a relayer passes a group of those filthy, unpleasant devil-beasts. Funny how they always turn up around races and runners isn’t it? Filthy llamas.

Here’s where I go full fledge Ebert on you: I liked the movie. As you know, F.M.S. uses a non-standard 666 Llama Scale for movie/book reviews. I’d score this a nice high 590 llamas out of 666.

What it did right: Let’s face it, races courses are just a collection of roads, concrete, signs, and distances. Sure, some race courses have more intrinsic character than other courses but, ultimately, they are still just inanimate objects. Based on the title, I was a bit skeptical that I would be in for a bit of over dramatizing of the daunting course itself. What really gives a race its life are the people who run it. The energy, the fun, the excitement come from the people lacing up the shoes and bounding over that concrete and distance. Each has a story. Each are motivated for a different reason. The directors wisely chose to focus their attention on four distinct groups of relayers and their reason to be at this event on this day race than the course itself.

The movie follows each of these groups as they discuss their motivation, their preparation, the race, and the finish. One group is running in memory of a recently deceased father-to-be. One group – a bit obnoxious in my opinion – is an aging group of men dealing with their declining running abilities. Try not to roll your eyes too hard as they squirt down every female runner that passes them with a water gun while forcing them to run through a “power arch”. I sprained an eyeball. Another group features an older woman who had collapsed and needed to be revived at the same event the previous year. And, finally, a group of computer animators/ artists with little to no experience running take up the challenge of the course.

By focusing attention on the specific groups, the course itself becomes a constantly looming background feature to the characters. As with any good documentary, you become involved with these peoples’ lives for a few moments. You cheer them on (or, for the “Dead Jocks”, you passively root for a flat tire.)

What the movie could have done better: I love comparing us “regular” runners to the elites (i.e. their training, their approach, their mental confidence). I don’t think it diminishes what the rest of us do to prepare for a race. I don’t think it minimizes our accomplishments. In fact, sharing the course with the elites is often a thrill and one of the unique features of running. The Bowerman Elite relay team, the favorites, made a brief cameo in the film but I would have loved to see more of them. It would have been fascinating to see the approach the different groups take – and how they handle the rugged challenge – to go from Hood to Coast. Even though the movie is not about “times” and winners and losers, it is about people. And the elite runners are a differently wired people than the rest of us. That contrast could have been more fully explored.

Though she probably wouldn’t admit it, even Mrs. Nitmos seemed at least casually interested in HOOD TO COAST. At least, she didn’t run screaming from the room like she does when I review my weekly mileage splits with her. Runners will enjoy it. Non-runners should at least be interested in the story of the four groups tracked long enough to hold them to the finish. Check it out!

In addition, the flick left me motivated to buy, and retrofit, a rape van into a super awesome relay bus and start heading West. One more relay group; one less rape van! By my math, that’s mighty fine, folks.


Happy trails.

Friday, October 28, 2011

If You Are Dressing Up For Halloween...

...remember, not all costumes are for you. Choose wisely in this day of cell phone cameras and internet exposure.

Holy VHS tapes, Venom! Careful...his Spidey Sense...of Diabetes is tingling.

Either The Smurfs or the Blue Man Group fired their make-up artist. Shame.

Awww, cute kid...with the worst parents ever. I guess it's better than dressing her like a stripper. In a few years you can file for emancipation.

Okay, kind of a funny costume actually. But she could really use a Brazillian. And a floss.

Dude, at least scrub off the liposuction pre-surgery lines before becoming The Flash.

Nice furniture. Where's the lava lamp?

What will I be wearing? To be honest, I'm pictured in the photos above but I'll never tell which one. Okay, okay, I'll give you some hints: (1) I'm a bit bashful and (2) I like rainbows.

What will I actually be wearing this Halloween? Nothing, I'm an adult. Halloween is for children. However, if I were to wear a costume, I'd prefer it to be something like zipperhead here:

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Patience and Persistence

Wherein I dispense my single greatest running advice.

Most of you know that I look with sideways glance, pursed lips and skeptically cocked right eyebrow* at amateur running coaches with their neat looking online coaching certificates. I’m not going to go in to All The Ways that I think coaching should best be left to professionals. And those seeking coaches should also probably best be left to professionals (or overachieving amateurs.) You’ve read it here several times already. It’s one of my Go To targets when I need something fun to ridicule because I have no doubt that it ruffles some feathers as, ultimately, all running bloggers become coaches.** Besides lame metaphors, llama hatred, and mildly amusing sarcasm, feather ruffling is what this blog is all about after all. Suffice to say, I think amateur runners should be encouraged to explore, investigate, and experiment on their own to learn their abilities – what works for them – and discover their path to success without an amateur coach stealing their journey.

***"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

*** “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Greg Anderson (American best-selling Author and founder of the American Wellness Project., b.1964)

So, far be it for me to offer up unbelievably sage running advice right? Wrong. I’ll need four Philadelphias to tell you why. My hypocrisy knows no bounds. I talk out of both sides of my mouth so much that I can harmonize these conflicting thoughts like a grade A Philadelphia street corner a cappella group. But bear with me as I think you’ll also see I’m not robbing you of your journey like some sort of Philadelphia street corner mugger. Nor am I overloading you with unwanted running advice like so much cheese on a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Philadelphia! Four! (Wish you would have written that paragraph, amirite?)

If you are in it for the short term, a quick one off marathon and done, hire your running coach. If you have money to burn, hire your running coach. If you are so incredibly lazy that you can’t spend ten minutes of your time doing a few quick Google internet searches, hire your running coach. If you can’t motivate yourself to set down your remote and lace up the shoes, hire a running coach. If any of that applies to you and you still really feel you need a coach, give me twenty minutes and I’ll put together an impressive, official looking Coach certificate. I charge $75 an hour. Email me. When your marathon is over, you can have the certificate and now you’re a coach too. (I’ll write my name on it in pencil for ease of transfer.)

But here’s my running advice for you budding long term runners, presented in total alliterative form: Patience pand Persistence. Here it is again in much clearer partial alliteration: Patience and Persistence. That’s it. You’re welcome. That’ll be $75.

Oh, but what does that mean?

You want it in alliteration or regular? Let’s go regular. ‘P’ jokes are only funny for so long. If running is part of your lifestyle – if you do it regularly and intend to continue for the foreseeable future – you’ve already developed your Persistence. It’s a habit. Like a good postman, you do it in rain, snow, heat or gloom of night. Whether you recognize it or not, you’ve probably already adjusted your training based on your training and/or race performances. You’ve done more speed work. You’ve added hills. You started wearing magnetic bracelets and offered a pet as a sacrifice to Dick Beardsley. Internet? Oh, yeah, you’ve been to Hal Higdon, McMillan Running, Complete Running. You have a subscription to Runner’s World. You read blogs. For some reason, you’re even reading this blog. In short, you know where to find the information you need. It’s all out there. Running coaches don’t have some secret stash of knowledge. This isn't the DaVinci Code. There's nothing hidden under the Johnny Kelley statue. Then you mix and match and try things out. Persistence, you haz it.

Now, I’m going to stop right here because I can already here the 3 hour marathoner snorting derisively and saying, Nitmos, you don’t know what you are talking about. I needed a coach to fulfill my dreams. You, sir or madam, are an overachiever and in the top 2% of runners. You are not the target audience. You are not like the rest of us. You want to pay for a coach to get you into the top 1.9% bracket? Knock yourself out (but I’m guessing you don’t hire some dude or dudette with an online coaching certificate.) In my head, that’s how the conversation goes, anyway.

For the rest of us amateurs, our persistence will pay off through our…patience. That’s right, patience. I know the ultimate goal for a lot of runners is to get from A to B as fast as possible (implied: without pooping self). And sometimes you want something so badly that you speed up the process by increasing mileage too quickly or doing more interval speed work than your body is prepared to handle. Or mentally beating yourself up if improvement isn't going as fast as you hoped. You want to PR a race in two months. You want to BQ at your next marathon. In other words, forget the patience, like Violet Beauregarde, you want it and you want it now. But if you attempt to grow more quickly than your body can reasonably respond, you’ll pull a Krispy Kreme. Sure, it’ll work for awhile – remember when Krispy Kreme’s were all the rage? – but then it may just fall apart in the form of injury or frustration or a Rick Perry campaign.

Patience. It’s good enough that your race times are slowly going down - even if it is falling slower than you had hoped. Remember, you are persistent and you can be patient. It's downward trending. I always wanted to BQ and got lucky doing so in my second marathon. But I didn’t place all of my hopes on that race so I wouldn’t have been disappointed if it didn’t happen. I knew my training was getting better with each passing week, month, year. I would be patient. I would be persistent. It would take what it took but I would get there.

Stand back and look at the big picture of your running, your abilities, and how things that was so hard are not so hard anymore. It doesn’t look good over the last few months? Then stand further back and take in more of the big picture. Heck, if you need to, back up all the way to Philadelphia (!).

Patience and persistence, baby. When I get frustrated with my training, I always remember those words. They soothe me like a nipple suckling baby. And, see there? I didn’t rob you of your journey. You’ll find your own path to your goals and you’ll be the richer due to your uniquely personal introspective journey. This even applies to you goofy barefoot bastards.

But if that’s not good enough – things need to happen quicker and you believe someone is holding a secret cheesesteak of knowledge just past your outreached arms - email me and I can turn around and email back a training plan for you in about ten minutes and 12 mouse clicks. Fee, as always, is $75.

Happy trails.

*You may score ten points for Gryffindor if you tried this at home – before reading this footnote.

**Running Blogger Life Cycle:
New Runner -->Run Blogger -->Improving Runner -->Running Coach

Where are you in the cycle?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Runner Punished For Thinking on His Feet

I know we are supposed to be all Over The Moon over the preggo that finished the Chicago Marathon on Sunday then squirted out an 18 year tax credit a mere few hours later. I know this because everyone is discussing it ad nauseam like it is some morality play that needs to be debated endlessly. Then we can decipher your position and figure out who watches Fox News and who watches MSNBC based on where you come out. I love taking sides on relatively inconsequential, non-important issues that don’t concern me. Did you hear about the woman in Ohio that planted her tomatoes next to potatoes IN THE SAME GARDEN? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? Discuss.

Besides, I’ve birthed an eight pounder myself immediately following the 2008 Detroit Marathon and it barely made news. Of course, mine didn’t provide a tax break and wasn’t nearly as cute, I’m sure. His name – Nutty Cornhead – might have turned some folks off too. (That’s why I left him in the Port-a-John. He wasn’t a keeper.) So, big deal, right? Everyone shoots something out of their posterior post-race.* I just feel bad for the folks who were not only ‘chicked’ but also ‘birthed’ (and possibly ‘episiotomied’?) at the finish. How’d you like to get beat to the finish line by a rush of amniotic fluid among everything else?

No, I don’t really give a crap about Preggo Runner and Her Fabulous Birthing Adventure. There was another marathon story playing out elsewhere in the world on the same day that was far more interesting. I give a crap about running innovation. I’m not talking about the current minimalist fad.** I’m talking about true innovation. Take, for example, Rob Sloan. Rob Sloan knows that running marathons are hard. It’s a looong way, after all. Hell, 26.2 miles is basically like running two half-marathons consecutively. Two of anything back-to-back is ridiculously hard. Ever eat at two buffets consecutively? See two Twilight movies back-to back (when even one is more than most can take)? Give attention to both of your kids in a row? Grueling.***

So Rob knows that marathons are difficult, taxing, and dangerously anaerobic. And maybe he has a bit of Thomas Edison in him. Maybe a dash of Steve Jobs. Was he satisfied with reading by candlelight? No, he invented his own electric light. You see, Rob got to mile 20 of the Kielder Marathon. Rob was exhausted. But Rob still wanted to finish. He wasn’t going to continue using his legs, lungs, and basic human decency like a fool. That’s not how an innovator works. Rob searched for another way…another solution…a better method to achieve a goal for the common good – or his own personal glory – whichever came first.

Inspiration rarely strikes like a lightning bolt from the sky. Usually, it slowly, imperceptibly, engulfs you like…fumes from an idling bus. A true genius recognizes the signs (and smells) and follows the path. Rob got on that idling bus on Sunday. Rob rode it to a point near the finish. Rob found a solution to avoid having to use his fatigued legs and lungs and his challenged moral compass. Rob emerged from the bus and hid behind a tree in a wooded area near the course finish like true champions must do. Rob must have felt like Steve Jobs emerging from his garage with the key to future technological advances rattling around his head. Rob had immediately redefined what it meant to “finish” a marathon. Rob waited for the first and second place runners to pass by. He wanted glory but he wasn’t an enormous egomaniac. His ego was merely over-sized. He waited for the one position that would attract the least amount of attention while maximizing his rewards: Third place. Third place would be his Macintosh!

Rob Sloan, executing the strategy only he invented that day, slunk out from behind the tree, rejoined the marathon and finished third! And then, in another brilliant move, decided not to slink away quietly with his ill-gotten gains. Instead, he stuck around for photo ops and interviews in which he proclaimed the course “unbelievably tough”. For those of you who have run a marathon, three cheers to Rob Sloan! In post-Sloanian days, can we really be expected to run 26.2 consecutive miles any longer? No one reads by candlelight anymore. We don’t go backwards in our advancements (see, it says ‘advance’ right in the word advancement.) We don’t take our shoes off again once we start wearing them. We don’t go back to spears once we invented guns. Heck, we won’t go back to guns once we invent laser guns. It’s called progress. And the new standard for completing a marathon is to run until you are fatigued…and then hop a bus to the finish. There’s something charmingly Amazing Racish about it.

But did we embrace this advancement? No. The heartless race organizers stripped him of his medal. He was deemed unworthy. His innovation for completing a marathon was tossed into the dustbin of history. He must feel like the inventor of Betamax. Rob Sloan, unrecognized champion of the everyman marathon runner:

The people's champion!

We salute you.

It does lead me to wonder…if an innovation like the bus-aided marathon isn’t embraced, how are folks going to accept my original concept, the Segway marathon? Time will tell. I’m sure Edison and Jobs had the same apprehensions.

In the meantime…

Happy busing.

*That’s where babies come from right?

**I know, I know, it’s not a fad. Rock n’ Roll and TV are not a fad either even though everyone thought they were at the time. And, sure, eyeglasses are just a human made attempt to correct the natural sight of the eye – FAD! – when we all know that the best way for the eye to see is through its natural state. It cannot be improved upon. Throw down your glasses and crunch them under your minimalist shoes! While you’re at it, throw down your hearing aids and insulin pumps and crush them under a Five Fingered heel! Colostomy bag? Remove that and….gently deposit that in the garbage please.

***Believe me, Chutes and Ladders never gets more fun the MORE you play. I started to see Slides in my nightmares. Thankfully, my kids have outgrown this adult torture game.

Friday, October 07, 2011

All Clear, Full Spite Ahead

As I survey the weeks ahead from the captain’s bridge of the S.S. Nitmos, everything looks clear and smooth. There is nothing – nada, zippo, zilch – on the schedule. Not a race to be found. No fun run. No Halloween adults-dressed-up-on-a-holiday-meant-for-children costume run. No post-Thanksgiving work-off-the-food-orgy run. No Jingle Bell freeze-your-ass-off run. Heck, I don’t even see one of those weird webcentric “virtual 5k’s” being promoted anywhere (at least, anywhere that I can find one to hyphenate into a mocking phrase). I literally have nothing to look forward to except death and taxes…and American Idol.*

I don’t even have to run if I don’t want to. So why I am?

Oh, yeah, that’s because the races are really just lighthouses on the ocean of my running life. I could live a nice anonymous running existence without the races or the blog. Neither drives the running for me anyhow except for as a tool to release the built up pressure of lame, over-boiled nautical metaphors. Believe it or not, I don’t derive any motivation from your snarky comments left to insult or critique me.** I run and blog purely out of spite. I comment on your blogs when I’m feeling spiteful. I definitely race out of spite. And I blog filled with venomous spite. I’m not even going to go with the obvious, cheap joke that I sit around drinking Sprite because it’s the closest thing to fuel my spite. I’m not going to do it. Out of spite, once again.

So, despite the fact that I have no races ahead and no PR’s with which to Jell-o wrestle, I haven’t slacked off on my non-existent training log one bit. I was at the track on my lunch hour yesterday rounding it in perfect concentric 400 meter ovals in the midst of a round of 800’s. The day was warm for a Michigan October. The fallen yellow and orange leaves criss-crossing the football field with every whim of the wind. Sweat was pouring from my brow, neck, and Tootsie Rolled abdomen. I was killing myself out on the track and…I couldn’t think why. Why? Why do this to yourself? There are no lighthouses ahead. I plan to stay in the ocean and eat Tootsie Rolls for the foreseeable future.*** Who needs it, right? I finished the 800’s anyway despite your expectations that I would suddenly quit and jog home. Out of spite, once again.

Well, I need it, I guess. I get even crankier if I take a few days off. I’m pretty unpleasant to begin with but, if I miss a few runs, “spite” will be the least of anyone’s concerns about me. Try “felonious assault” or “llama torture” or “Cambodian orphanage arson”. What am I running for? Uh, perhaps my sanity, my well-being, and my rabid appetite for fudge stripe cookies and Tootsie Rolls (not to say that I’d kick sour balls out of bed for melting, youknowwhatImean?)

I might be swinging in the hammock on the open seas right now, untwisting my delicious Rolls and gulping down the rum and Sprite Coke, but, believe me, I’m still putting the work in. The 800’s are still getting eight hundreded. The occasional 1200 gets twelved. The long runs, as always, are completed at a much faster pace than any running coach would desire (but what do they really know, right?). I limbo the fuck out of a few runs here and there just to show it who’s boss. It’s all clear and smooth sailing.

Eventually, I’ll flop out of the hammock into a pile of crumpled Tootsie wrappers, shave my scraggly beard, wax my anus**** and point the ship to the nearest lighthouse. When the mood strikes, that is. And that mood is spite, once again.

Happy sailing.

*Kidding, I’m an X Factor man, of course.
**By the way, the guy – don’t remember the name - who keeps popping up to point out my spelling or grammatical errors, you understand of course that I spend less than 7 seconds editing. If you would like to be my unpaid editor, call me.
***Seriously, Halloween is hard enough without all of the candy specials going on right now that get your “pre-Halloween” gorge-fest started early. Tootsie Rolls? Little gobs of faintly fecal-reminiscent goodness with a fun little pull and twist open!
****You don’t?

Postscript: I had meant to punch this little Sea Tale up with a few pirate references. You know, arrrr, thar she blows (t.w.s.s.) and a few references to lubbers and bilge rats, that kind of thing. You can go back and re-read and drop a few Ahoy ye mateys! where you see fit. Hell, go ahead and change the title to A Runners Life For Me while yer at it. What do I care? Now, hand me the second bag of Tootsie Rolls and GTFO.