appointments

maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright.
and i know that it’s not,
but i have to believe that it is.
— the prophet julien baker

In the daylight you can pretend. You’re OK. It was just a bad day. Regroup, batten down the hatches. TOMORROW you’ll be a runner.

Sure, the body didn’t work today. But it was a quirk. A little sleep, a bit of protein, a change in shoes, an attitude adjustment. It’ll all work out.

How many days will you fall for that? When are you going to figure it out?

And then it’s 2 a.m. in a dark living room, illuminated only by an iphone on spotify. The Prophet Julien Baker is talking to you. Maybe it’s gonna turn out alright, she says.  And I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is.

And that’s the moment you can’t escape the truth.

You’re never going to be able to run again. You keep hoping it’s all gonna turn out alright. And you know that it’s not. But you have to believe that it is. If you don’t believe, what’s left?

It’s easy to rationalize things in the morning when your soul is warmed by Mr. Sun’s Healing Rays  and you have a day of optimism ahead.

When it’s 2 a.m. and all you have is a coffee mug of wine and a Snickers bar with a wrapper that seems to be crazy glued on, it’s harder to ignore the truth.

You’re done.

I think if I ruin this, that I know I can live with it, The Prophet Baker assures you. You hope she’s right.

You’ll wake up tomorrow, none the worse for a bit of a hangover, fish the Snickers bar out of the trash, throw on your shoes and try it again. Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright.

You know that it’s not.

But you have to believe that it is.

You have a date with a sidewalk. Try not to miss any more appointments, The Prophet Baker reminds you. How does she know you this well?

Here’s to sunrise …

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the day fiona apple got busted at the texas border checkpoint. a photo essay.

 

I got my feet
On the ground
And I don’t go
To sleep to dream
— the prophet fiona

Mo always says dreams are supposed to mean something. I’m still trying to figure out last night’s.

I’m running on a treadmill. There’s a guy on the TM next to me also running. He stops, and there is much hoopla (note to self: must say “hoopla” more in casual conversation. In the unlikely event you ever have a casual conversation). A TV crew swoops in; confetti drops. He says he has broken the World Record For Going From 20 MPH To Zero on a Treadmill. Everyone seems to be quite excited about this.

I am befuddled, and I am not one drawn easily to befuddlement. How is this even a record? Had someone gone from 19 mph to zero previously, leaving this as the 4-minute mile of the treadmill set? The holy grail? Run away? It’s only a bunny! Why would this feat have not been apparent transpiring on the treadmill next to me? How the heck do you even get a TM up to 20 mph in the first place? This means the guy is capable of running at 3-minute mile pace? And if so, what’s the big deal? You unplug the machine and it stops. Why is there a world record for stopping? And what’s the deal with Guinness anyhow? It’s not even made in Texas. I, being a fearless investigative reporter at heart, stop to question him, but by that time he’s gone. And then I wake up.

Why did this dream randomly pop up in my brain? What am I trying to tell myself? I have no idea. Maybe my obsession with how slow I’ve become? I’m not sure how that would apply, but I suppose dreams do come from somewhere. Or Amazon. I assume Bezos has bought dreams by now.

Last night, I walked 3 miles in the dark around downtown Mesa. They kicked the homeless guys out of the Subway patio, forcing them to the next block over, so it felt a little safer. But there was one stretch next to the old Trib that is super dark. Too late, I saw a guy standing up in the shadows a few yards in front of me. Yikes. I felt the surge of adrenaline, veered left and shifted into high gear to get away, and … nothing. I STILL couldn’t run. I couldn’t run if my life depended on it. It isn’t just a saying; it’s a reality show coming this way Friday nights on cable access. Is cable access still a thing? Is it all in my head? If so, my head wants to be killed by a homeless guy on First Avenue. My head is weird.

That’s the goal of the Year of Fleshman. 40:13 is now the time to beat. I have this goal. 20 miles a week. Doesn’t have to be fast. Miles is miles. Push a little, recover a little, let things flow. Every few weeks, a $35 time trial to see if there’s any progress. Plus, I’ll never have to wash shirts again. Just wear a race shirt for a week and toss it. Genius.

One glimmer of hope: Last night’s course is near the Mormon Temple, so while I waited for Mo to finish off her pot (that Mo loves her pot), I wandered over to see the lights. They have an insanely spectacular light display. You basically walk through the massive grounds basking in the 80-degree winter wonderland while dodging well-meaning missionaries who have the joint staked out in search of lost souls. Speaking of lost souls, please let me know if you come across my left New Balance 1400v4. I found I still had enough in the tank after 3 miles to elude two earnest young men hot in my pursuit. So there’s that. (disclaimer: I’m not certain either was named Ernest. And I have only the utmost respect for the religion of the late Dave Schultz, may he rest in peace, or Michigan, whichever comes first.)

This week I leave behind the frivolity of the turkey trot for a Serious Race, the Jingle all the Way 5K. It rhymes AND offers jingle bells for your shoes. I’m almost certain this is how Prefontaine started out. AND as I recall, he suddenly went from 20 to zero. Hmmm ….

Will I get faster over the year? If I train consistently and push in races, science would say yes. If I stay the same, or get slower, then science would say I’m screwed. I guess I’ll find out.

I have never gone 20 mph. But I haven’t hit zero yet either. Here’s to something in between. Prefontaine, eh? I should really grow a mustache someday …

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thank you, new balance

The biggest problem with being slow in a race is kids. Or more specifically, The Kid.

In my extensive clinical research, I have found there is something in the kid mentality that results in an endless series of fartleks in races, with me being the telephone pole the kid is sprinting past, only to apply the brakes as soon as he is in front of me.

Saturday’s race went something like this. I am trotting along. Kid is behind me. Kid kicks it into overdrive. Kid sprints past me. Kid comes to complete halt 3 feet in front of me. I pass Kid. Three minutes later, Kid sprints past me. Stops again. I slam on brakes. Repeat as necessary.

I get it. He’s a kid. And I don’t mind it once. Or 75 times. But this was CONSTANT. Entering an impassable singletrack? Kid sprints by and stops. Rocky uphill? Sprint. Stop. Scree-infested screeching downhill? Little blur of yellow goes by and then slams on the brakes. To make matters worse, he was wearing a neon yellow shirt that doesn’t exactly blend in with the desert environment.

I instituted a workaround in which I kept right behind Mo, so that I would slam into HER from behind instead of the Kid. But she snapped at the 2 mile mark, sprinting away and leaving the two of us to our own devices. Sadly I had no devices. Note to self: always run with a corkscrew in the future.

Sprint stop curse sprint stop curse sprint stop curse. And then we finished. The Kid was met by his dad, so I was unable to follow through with the plan I had concocted during the race involving Tempe Town Lake, a large anchor and a handwritten note that said “try sprinting NOW, Kid.”

I went home, the Kid lived to annoy another day, and that was that. Until now.

Mo has this theory that your phone picks up conversations and caters advertising to it. I have been skeptical up till now, when this New Balance ad appeared on my Instagramaphone.

They’re New Balance shoes. They’re orange, apparently meant for Turkey Trots. On the right shoe are baseball cleats, useful when The Kid is “accidentally tripped” and you step on him repeatedly. The left shoe has a smooth sole, which can be shown to race officials as proof that no, it wasn’t YOU who spiked the Kid. Likely an unfortunate jumping cholla incident. Possibly sprinkling salt on the wound would help.

Always buy shoes specifically for the event. I love this. Thanks, New Balance. See you at the next race, Kid …

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running with turkeys

Back in the old days, I hated turkey trots because they were just a bunch of people who dressed up in costume to have fun and didn’t particularly care about the race.

These days, I love turkey trots because they’re just a bunch of people who dress up in costume to have fun and don’t particularly care about the race.

Life is all about perspective …

 

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thanks

I’m out on the mad dog course. It’s Thanksgiving Day. My Thanksgiving meal is oatmeal and a banana. Both Mo and I work today, so we watched the Macy parade this morning and went our separate ways. I’m alone for the rest of the day. I wonder if I should feel sorry for myself.

Of course not.

I’m able to be out trotting on a glorious 88 degree day. The mad dog course is full of people turkey trotting, turkey frisbee golfing, turkey cycling. There’s a motorized skateboard, a reluctant foo-foo dog, an over-caffeinated kid. It’s everything that makes the mad dog great. Our own little Thanksgiving Day parade, marching bands sold separately.

I have so much to be thankful for. We had the perfect Thanksgiving meal on Monday with a dear friend, days before it became trendy. We get to run a trail turkey trot (try saying that five times fast) together on Saturday. My health is OK, as is Mo’s. We have good jobs, loving families, a cat that tolerates us. It’s a good life.

It’s easy to take things for granted. Now and then, I guess it’s a good thing to check the scorecard and realize how good you have it. Thanksgiving isn’t about eating too much and watching people destroy their brains while you fall asleep on the couch. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. A silent prayer to the running gods for those who are suffering, and an acknowledgement of all the good things that have happened to us this year even under the black cloud.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to being a grouch.

Today? Today I’m just thankful.

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ode to cassidy

Blow the horn and tap the tambourine
Close the gap of the dark years in between
You and me, Cassidy
— john perry barlow

The cardio guy wants numbers. I’ll give him numbers.

I stop at the store on the way to the track. I need batteries for my blood pressure thingy. Sorry for the technical terminology. In layman’s terms, it’s a thingy that takes blood pressure. And what the heck is a layman anyhow? I played baseball with a guy named Lanny Layman. He was a good hitter. No idea what his blood pressure was.

I go to the track, set up the BPT to get a reading when the run is over, and take off. It’s a hard run day, but my body appears not to have gotten the memo. I’m not even sure how memos are delivered internally. Apparently U.S. Postal Service, since it appears to be missing. I start off OK and check the heart rate thingy (see previous explanation.) It still shows 75, the pre-run number. I run a lap and it drops to 60. After another lap, 55. I am impressed that my running heart rate is lower than my resting heart rate. And that’s the start of the Most Frustrating Run Ever.

I take it off, turn it off, turn it back on, same thing. I call up “Garmin 235 HR doesn’t work” and get a bunch of helpful responses which always end with “I had to call Garmin customer service.” This is unlikely to help me in the next five minutes. I reboot. I update software. I sing the “Sound of Music” theme song. This doesn’t help, but it soothes me greatly despite the look from the security guy riding by on his little bicycle. Like a security guy riding around on a little bicycle has room to question anyone.

In the end, I give up. I start the watch up again, but hit the lower right button instead of the upper right. Bam. It records a split. This is at 1.25 miles, so now my splits are totally screwed up. I curse silently, since the security guy is likely under the bleachers staking me out. There is nothing more irritating than having all of the numbers screwed up. What’s the point of running if you don’t have accurate data to record? How will I know my strides per minute? My stride length? What age I was when I fell in love with Keith Partridge? Nevertheless, I persisted.

At least I can salvage the post-run blood pressure check. I finish 3.1 miles, if you can believe the watch, which at this point I’m fairly certain is just messing with me. I rush to the bench, strap on the BPT and wait. The numbers come up, and my blood pressure moments after ending a fairly hard effort is a nudge lower than my blood pressure was when I got out of bed. Which can mean only one thing: I run in my sleep. And here I thought it was just a dream.

So now that number is worthless too. I try it again. Same result. I bought the batteries on the Hopi reservation on the way here, so I’m guessing it’s some sort of lost in translation thing, sans Bill Murray.

Oh, well. I give up. I pack my BPT in my little running bag and walk to the car. Glancing down at my watch to see what time it is, I realize that in my haste to take my blood pressure, I had never hit the stop buton.

So I have NO average heart rate for the run, NO after-the-run blood pressure, NO splits, and NO time for the run. If a tree falls in the forest and it’s not wearing a GPS device, does it really fall it all? And is this where the term “passing trees like they were standing still” come from?

I think back. In 1984 at my first White Rock Marathon, I had a Fancy New Running Watch, a Casio. You could hit a button and it would start, and then you could hit the button again and it would stop. I loved that watch. Waiting for the start in the little crowd of runners with 10 minutes before the race, I looked down to see for sure I had it on zero. The watch was blank. My battery died 10 minutes before my first marathon.

33 years later, I’m still staring at stupid watches. There are just so many more ways to screw them up now. Casio, Cassidy. Is it a cosmic sign for a return to simpler times?

David Cassidy is dead. My watch is dead. Shirley Jones once starred in The Sound of Music. It was all so obvious. Maybe the answer is not buying expensive brownies from a small store on the reservation on the way to your run. Or buying a LOT of them. I wonder if they sell watches there.

I wonder whatever happened to Lanny Layman …

ja341

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actually, i prefer pie. thanks.

This is EXACTLY how i’ve always thought of myself. Validation from the medical community is jut the icing on the cake.

Now i want cake. Please don’t tell the medical community.

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