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.