Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Running to Escape

While I'm running, I'm not worried about what I have to do later, or the next day. I'm not worried about money and my lack thereof. I'm not worried about my loved ones and whatever tension I may be experiencing with them. I'm not worried about work. I'm not worried about my email. In fact, there's nothing, except for the road.

I look forward to running, because it's a free pass from life's challenges. Since I'm doing something that's undeniably good for me, I can escape from the world and feel justified doing so. But a run isn't forever. Sometimes I add more miles to my run, just to push off the finish, when real life crashes back in.

Running becomes an addiction

When I'm running, I can't be dealing with my problems because, well, I'm busy running. But when I'm sitting on the couch, I have no excuse. Sometimes I just want to rest. Sometimes I just get tired of tracking my calories and my spending and trying to figure out what I did to piss everyone off today. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and block it out. But I can't. It's there, like a buzzing bee.

That period after I've finished running and taken a shower and made sure my cat is still alive is the hardest. Because I feel like I need to be productive for the rest of the day. That I should pull out the looooong list of life to-do's and start knocking them down one by one. But I don't want to. And it's at this point I miss running. I just finished! And already I want to be back on the road.

The sore legs and exhaustion - bizarrely - are also a "perk." Because if I push myself really hard, so hard that I'm completely destroyed afterwards, then I extend that period of time before I have to deal with reality again. Because when I'm that tired, I need to rest. And that giant lunch followed by a three hour nap is part of the run. I can easily kill two-thirds of the day like this. A Sunday well spent. Nevermind that tomorrow is the start of what will be a very long work week.

Rest? Naps? Those all sound great.

Some of the more important things that I need to do, or want to do, require energy. But it's hard to have energy to spare when I exercise every day. And in a cruel twist, if I don't exercise, I become lethargic. I can take a day off to hang out with some friends, but that's about it. After a few days my body says, "oh, you're not using this energy for anything? I'm just going to store it into your belly. Don't worry, everyone loves jiggly bellies. Like Santa Clause! Everyone loves Santa Claus."

I miss the jiggly belly. Well, not the actual belly. But I miss eating and drinking, as much as I wanted. But it's not because I didn't care about how I looked, it's just that for a few years I somehow lied to myself and convinced myself I was fine. And honestly, nobody even cared that much. I mean, they notice the difference now, but it's more like a curiosity. "Is that a new shirt? Oh, you lost 50 pounds? Cool."

I weigh myself every day now. In addition to writing down in a small notepad every time I buy something. And checking my blog to see how long it's been since I last wrote something. It's all part of a habit now, like running. The only hard part about running is getting started. Getting off the couch after a long tiring day, putting my shoes on, and going outside. But after I start, it's great. The stress melts away.

Because all the other shit I do is stressful. I don't know why I do all the things I do, except for some vague goal of constant improvement. I try not to think too much about why, or for whose benefit. When it comes down to it, all the choices we make in life are arbitrary. I can choose to eat pizza and ice cream every day, or I can choose to run every day. And when you put those two side-by-side like that, with seemingly equal merit, it seems obvious. But with pizza and ice cream, I will hate myself.

With running, I don't hate myself. Maybe that's what it is. Maybe that's what I'm really after: Pride. Real pride. From working hard, not giving up, constantly pushing myself for hundreds of miles, through pain and exhaustion.

Maybe this addiction isn't so bad.

Abs, medals, and an excuse to wear kilts? Sure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

5 Ways You can Smoke and Still Run

Yesterday, Pixie called me retarded. She apologized later on, but truth be told, I hadn't taken much offense.

I AM retarded.

I do dumb things all the time. Things that make no sense. I run and exercise to stay healthy, but then I jam all sorts of horrible things into my body: French fries, tequila, angst, and smoke.

I smoke in a healthy way. I also eat, drink, and destroy my body on a daily basis in a healthy way.

If you're eagerly anticipating that I'm about to offer you a panacea that will let you satisfy all your most gluttonous desires with no ill effect, then you clearly haven't read my blog before today. The above was self-abasing satire.

But I run so I don't go crazy. And I pollute my body to give me some measure of calm as well. Because sometimes pizza topped with ice cream and dipped in beer just makes all the world seem amazing. I want the world to be amazing. And if there's any proof of that, it's these mystical substances that make our hearts race with joy. Joy, damn it.

Joy. Damn it.

But anyway, if you're going to smoke, you can at least do so without turning your lungs into Sarlac pits. Here comes the list that caused you to click this link like a gambling addict who just found a slot machine in his closet.

1. Smoke pipe

Contrary to what you may think, I wasn't hooked on cigarettes by a weird twichy kid in a high school bathroom. In fact I was terrified of any foreign substance other than sandwiches. I didn't even start drinking until I was 23. Boy did that turn out to be a slippery slope.

My first exposure to smoking was my dad's pipe. It always seemed so majestic, billowing about like a dragon's breath. And it smelled like a hot cherry tree. The kind of cherry tree that gathers you up in its limbs and snuggles you on a cool fall night. Cherry trees are snuggly.

One day a couple of years ago, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, I decided I was going to start smoking pipe. It's the same reason I started drinking, or got a motorcycle. These are cheap ways to live life. I don't know how gypsies who work part time at a cafe can afford to travel through Europe, but I haven't figured out their secret yet. So I make life interesting with small things. Many many small things.

I YouTubed how to smoke pipe. It looked more complicated than I had anticipated. There was packing, and tamping, and puffing, and gazing off into the distance importantly. The guy in the video looked like the last guy in the world you'd expect to smoke a pipe. He looked like he had an epic collection of Birkenstocks and Star Wars posters. But then he took that first puff, and I thought, "OMG this man is the master of the universe."

Master. Of. The. Universe.

I got all the supplies at a drug store: Inexpensive pipe, a tamping tool that was probably an embarrassment to the Chinese toddler who made it, and pipe tobacco that did not smell like a snuggly cherry tree. I smoked my first pipe in my car in the parking lot of my office building. Actually I drove to the next lot over, in front of the grocery store, because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of any stray coworkers.

And embarrass myself I did. I used half the box of matches. I got more tobacco in my lap than in the pipe. And I f+#ked up the packing, so that getting any smoke was like trying to suck a muffin through a straw. But man, for a few minutes I felt like all was right with the world. I also burned my mouth.

I've upgraded my supplies since. I discovered a local smokeshop. The guy who works there is Russian. Our conversations typically sound like, "How are you? Good. The weather is good. Life is good. Eight Dollars? Good. Have a good life." If you ever want to pass yourself off as a native Russian speaker, just learn the word for good, Хорошо, and use it in every single situation and context, forever.

The Russian language. All of it.

And considering that I can count on one hand the number of times I smoke pipe in a year, I have way too much pipe tobacco. In fact, a waiter from an Indian restaurant accidentally left a bag of Cavendish in front of a Cocktail bar, so now I have double too much.

2. Smoke Cigars

Smoking a cigar is what you do if you don't want your friends to compliment you on how it smells. When I smoke pipe, I'm welcome to do so in small enclosed spaces, even with giggling babies present. But if I ever need some time to myself, I just pull out a cigar, and I'm ostracized before I can even pretend-offer it to my horrified associates. Only men who look like they've wrestled lions and alligators since childhood can comfortably smoke cigars in the presence of other men who wrestle dangerous wild predators. I've never in my life seen a woman smoke a cigar.

When you pull out a cigar, you get the same kind of reaction as when you order an Irish car bomb and it's not St. Patty's day. They stare at you for a second. "Is it a special occasion? Did he get a promotion at work? No... no... He just... He's just going to do it. This man has no respect for polite society." There's never a good reason to smoke a cigar. It doesn't taste good at all. Even expensive cigars only taste marginally less bad. It's like lighting Beelzebub's unwashed ass on fire and then inhaling the fumes.

You smoke a cigar exactly for these reactions. People look at you like you're an angry viking who just came back from a long day of pillaging and plundering. They know you're a terrible human being, but they just can't help but look at you with awe and respect. If your boss walked into your office, sat down, and noisily ate stuffed lamb intestines, you would say nothing. Smoking a cigar temporarily makes you the boss of the world.  Also, Wolverine smokes cigars, but he doesn't need to. He's the boss of the world by default.

So boss. But seriously, please smoke that outside.

But, to make this relevant to the list, you don't inhale cigars into your lungs (unless you've finally decided to end your life). If you smoke cigars only casually, you will always develop sores on the inside of your mouth for the next few days. But, you'll still be able to breath, and to run, albeit painfully. And with a lingering flavor like you sucked on a cow's mud soaked tail for an hour.

3. Smoke Cigarettes, but not really

I smoke cigarettes as if they were tiny cigars. That is, I suck the smoke just into my mouth, then blow it out. This makes them precisely pointless.

However, smoking a cigarette is a great way to change someone's perception of you from, "this guy is a self-important douchebag who stays in shape to make everyone feel super bad" to "oh, this guy is smoking with me? He hates his own life as much as I do! Friends forever!" It's about camaraderie.

I have a friend who rolls his own cigarettes using fragrant tobacco leaves he scrounged from an expedition to the Amazon and sun-dried on the top of Machu Picchu. The process by which he extracts the leaves, cuts them, and carefully rolls them borders on a religious ceremony. I always try to present the proper aura of respectful awe. I force myself to nod approvingly as he bathes the paper in his saliva to give it a tight seal. Then, like an asshole, I only smoke it into my mouth, completely and utterly missing the divine effect I'm supposed to enjoy. Then I tell him that that was the most glorious experience of my life, and rush back inside before he can ask me follow-up questions. I also offer him lots of Scotch as compensation.

I sometimes entertain myself by asking for a cigarette from someone who knows I don't smoke. I enjoy it casually, studying the facade of the building, quietly criticizing the architect. I hold the cigarette up, look at it with brows furrowed, nod in satisfaction, then continue smoking. I idly mention that I have to run 20 miles the next day. "Should I smoke, you ask? I'll be fine," I say with a wink. After I'm done, I thank my bewildered friend, and go back inside as if everything is totally normal.

Bewildered yet?

I visited St. Petersburg a couple of years ago, and brought back some Russian cigarettes for friends. I made sure to keep at least one of the boxes. Fun fact: The warning message on Russian packs of cigarettes just straight up say, "smoking kills." In the rare times when I actually get cigarettes, I meticulously transfer them all to this wrinkled Russian case. Because my bloated ego knows no bounds.

4. Vape

This is what I do. Vaping is about blowing massive clouds of tasty vapor from a device built by an engineer on steroids. I suppose you can use a puny e-cigarette instead. Or you can use Thor's hammer:

This vape weighs about 30 pounds.

If you have too much free time, you can build and customize your own vapes. I have a tackle box of tools, parts, mods, wire, cotton, eye of newt, and dragon blood. I also make my own "e-juice", which requires another couple of boxes of vegetable glycerin, diluted nicotine, and many assortments of flavors ranging from peach, to blueberry cheesecake, to "this label has worn off, I probably shouldn't use this but Oh! It smells delicious!" All in all, vaping takes up an entire shelf in the house, much to Pixie's chagrin. Especially because the bottles of flavors tend to fall over and leak everywhere, casting a constant aroma that can smell like apples, vanilla, or usually just "faerie barf."

I'm not sure what the cool factor is for vaping, if there even is one. The folks who compliment me on my "mod" are exclusively men in dreads and homemade canvas vests. Most people assume I was a smoker at some point. When they ask how long ago I "quit", I have to explain that I never really smoked, but that I'm too irresponsible to just get a puppy.

Vaping rolls several addictions into one joyful bundle. The consumerist addiction of just buying a TON of shit. There's a never-ending list of new battery mods, tanks, drip tips, juices, and "I'm an asshole" decals you can buy. The physical addiction of constantly lifting and mashing something into your face. The nicotine addiction which - if you didn't have one - you will get.  And then a bizarre new addiction I recently discovered of trying to breath out the most massive cloud possible, as if I would blot out all the sky with it.

I will blot out the sky.

One time, while driving to work, I noticed that the car behind me was giving me a really wide berth. And I realized that when I vape in my car, it looks like it's on fire. This excited me for some reason. But in general, people steer clear of me, lest these strange vapors will cause them to dissolve into a puddle.

Anyway, I should probably quit. It's really expensive, and the constant puddle of acutely sweet syrup on the coffee table is f@$king disgusting.

5. Smoke parsley

Not actually parsley, but a different green herby substances. But I don't know if I can get arrested via blog, so parsley it is. What's my verdict on parsley?


To be fair, I think it's just how my body reacts to it. But 100% of the times I've tried parsley, it has ruined my life. It makes me profusely angry, and I have to lie absolutely flat, face down on the floor lest the whole world crush my skull. In fact, parsley destroyed my last New Year's party. I had a house full of beautiful, happy, laughing people all joyfully drinking champagne, playing music, and just having the most amazing night of the year. And I was lying in bed, in the dark, my head pounding like the creature from Alien went in the wrong direction and was trying to come out the top. Everyone kept trying to drag me out. Finally, at 11:59, I trudged out, looking like I had just climbed out of a cemetery, sat for a minute, utterly hating the planet and all of its inhabitants, then at 12:01 I went back to bed.


Don't do it. I'll miss you when you're gone.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

You Can't Run from Relationships

I run because it makes me feel like everything else in my life is going OK. But running isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card.

If I did happen to be in jail, I would run circles in the yard, and for a while I'd forget that I didn't pay for those running shoes and six gels. But I'd still be in the same plight.

In particular, running doesn't magically make all your relationships awesome.

Relationships are hard.

Running is something I do to make myself a better and stronger person. I run so that I'm more able to handle the stresses of life. I run so that I don't get angry at the people I love for stupid reasons. Once you get over the honeymoon stage of a new relationship, you start thinking, "I've told this person a million times not to leave their disgusting sweaty shoes on my sofa, and yet there they are! Every day! Why are they so stupid?"

People f*&k up all the time. I especially seem to have a double dose of f@#k up. Maybe even a triple dose.

Triple dose.
I forget things all the time. My memory is prodigiously awful. I try to be conscientious of all the things I do that piss people off. But that is a huge list! It's not so much that I'm a jerk, it's just that I'm lazy. I'm not going to put my sopping underwear in the hamper when the kitchen table is so much closer!

But for the lovely lady who comes home from a long day of kicking ass and chopping wood, seeing that "fragrant" heap on the table is just going to push her over the edge. She was hoping for blueberry pancakes, but no! Trousers!

And after that happens enough times, you start to think the other person is doing it on purpose. "He knows I hate that. He must be doing it on purpose. Why? Why, trousers, why?!" And if she says, "don't leave your boxers on the kitchen table. That's where I eat." Or maybe I say, "by the way, I didn't mean to gross up the table. I had them draped over my head and they fell off." If one of us says something, then it'll be fine. But often it doesn't get mentioned. And then resentment happens.

Resentment is the number one killer of relationships.

It usually comes from a lack of communication. A tiny thing happens. No big deal. You don't mention it. Then it happens again, or something else happens. It builds up a bit. But you're still not ready to rage-punt any puppies. You go about your business. And then one day, you come home, tired and cranky, and there's a steaming surprise, adulterating your vision.

And that happens both ways. Bob gets resentful. He gets all moody and shitty. Then Sally feels him being shitty and gets pissed off that he's being so pissy. And now they're both seething with anger, yet not saying anything to each other. It builds up in their own minds. An innocent injustice gets blown up to, "clearly this person wants to cause me injury. Well fine! He wants a war, he's got it!" POW, resentment.

Bob loves Sally, and Sally loves Bobs. But they forget that. They don't remember all the awesome reasons they fell in love. She just knows that he's being a douche, probably because he secretly hates her. And Bob just knows that she's being a snot, probably because she's ready to kick him to the curb. And it's for a super dumb reason. But they each think it's, like, a super serious hard core relationship apocalypse.

Sprinkle this on your wounds while you're at it.

We often wait though. If things are going well, we don't want to rock the boat by calling out some minor annoyance. But then, the longer we wait, the harder it is to bring something up. We just swallow it down, hoping it'll go away on its own. But it doesn't. It never does. It just lingers like an angry asshole.

And often it only comes out in the form of a shouting match. And usually it's over something that can't possible be that horrible. But the bowl of refriend beans left in the microwave is just the straw that broke the camel's back. But if Sally says, "OMG beans again?" Bob will think she's just gone insane. He's been quietly boiling for the past few weeks too, and in that moment he's incapable of being sympathetic.

Because when you're that angry, it's hard to see past your own feelings and try to appreciate why the other person is so upset. "Hmmm, it's probably not actually delicious beans that anger her. She must be upset for the same reason I'm upset. We haven't really been talking, and both of us have been affected by that distance. Poor Sally, I've been so unfair to her."

Instead it's, "I'm going to jam these G@dd*%n beans down your swollen gullet!" Hold on their bucko. Let's not jam any food items into any orifices. Take a deep breath.

You have to talk. I know, it sucks. Especially for us men, we hate whining about dumb things. We prefer to be manly and stoic. Right up until we explode like preschoolers who've had their plastic dump truck taken away. And ladies, they're subtle. They'll say, "don't tickle me when I have to pee." And to the guy it sounds like, "teehee, you're being cute, teehee." But what she really means is, "seriously, if you tickle me one more time, I will break your ribs."

Not only do you have to communicate, but you have to be aware. If this person who fills your life with joy is suddenly giving a smaller portion of joy than they used to, then maybe something is up. Maybe you should ask. "Hey hotstuff, by any chance have I been an asshole lately? You seem quieter than usual. Oooooh right, I haven't fed the cats for a week. Um, they're still alive, right?"

For the most part, it takes swallowing your own ego. I'm going to tell you right now, all the things that seem super important to you, are not. At all. I guarantee you that all the shit stewing around in your head all the time is really stupid. It's spun up out of nothing. Your friends don't all hate you because they didn't invite you to the movies. Get over yourself.

Any time you get upset at someone else, instead of thinking, "I'm so mad at this person!" Instead think, "why am I mad? Is it possible that they're just as mad? And justifiably so? What's the best way for both of us to move forward to a positive place?"

It's hard. It's super hard. Our caveman ancestors just clubbed each other with rocks when they were mad. Their communication was limited to, "aaaaarg! Rock time!" And we still have a very fat dose of those reflexes in our genes. It takes a LOT of practice to get past that. And you'll still find yourself wanting to choke a rooster every now and then.

Seriously though, this freakin' guy
And I'm just as guilty over it as anyone else. I write this stuff not because I'm a Zen master at all things (all that meditation would drive me crazy anyway). I write it as much to remind myself as to help others. Because I take things too personally too. I read too much into what others do and say. I allow things to balloon in my head the way my belly balloons if I don't exercise.

I run for my body, and I write for my mind. And I do both for my soul.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I'm a Whiny Asshole

As I've mentioned before, I'm a member of the L.U.N.A.R (Lace Up Now and Run) group online. Yesterday I posted a bit of self-loathing, and got rightfully walloped.

Other runners don't care if you have a bad run. They do care if you beat yourself up over it.

Hating on yourself is stupid.

But we do it all the time. We all have bad days where we feel disappointed in ourselves. And runners have bad days too. Due to injuries, or the weather, or because their cat barfed on their shoes, or just because no-reason-go-away-let-me-be-miserable-in-peace.

And my bit of angst was especially dumb. I ran a 5k yesterday as part of my training run and did it in a snail paced - GASP! - 20 minutes and 37 seconds. And I was mad at myself because I had tried beating my personal record of 20:10. Nevermind that record was set at an actual race with other racers and lots of energy. Nevermind that I had fresh legs on that day, but was pretty sore from months of marathon training yesterday. Nevermind that running circles on a track all alone after a long day of work is a lousy way to set records.

And it was downright insulting really. I posted the pic below with the caption "Tried and failed to beat my 5K PR of 20:10. I suck at life. Will prolly fail to beat my marathon PR at wineglass too." If you don't know, my last marathon almost killed me. But it was insulting because there are plenty of runners in the group who would murder a kitten if it would get them a 20:37 5k time. And here I am bitching about how slow that is. If I'm ready to end my life over a sub 21 minute 5k, how is someone who runs a half hour 5k supposed to feel?

Waaaah... I'm sooooo slow. Just a fat slow jerk.

Not only do I make them feel bad, but it hurts their motivation and maybe makes them think twice about posting their speeds. Which is really unfair. Every runner, no matter their level, is amazing. And running isn't a competition. Even a "race" isn't a competition. Running is about doing something that's very hard and very painful and doing it every day. Not because you're trying to prove anything. But because you're not willing to settle for the scraps life is willing to give you. You go out and conquer the world, because you deserve nothing less. And whether it takes you 20 minutes to conquer the world or 30, that shit is still conquered as heck.

After posting that weep-thetic note, you might expect the others to say, "you sir are quite astute; you are slower than a dead skunk. And just as smelly." Or maybe they'd be a little encouraging and say, "maybe you'll suck less next time, but lay off the couch and ice cream." But no, instead they told me to quit my bitching. That I was fast. That I should shut up and keep kicking ass. And it made me feel better in about a minute and a half. It also made me feel like a douchebag fishing for compliments. But mostly it made me feel better.

Those LUNARites weren't going to let me get hung up on a bad run (which wasn't even bad, really). They know that running is a lifelong passion, and any one run is just a drop in the sweat filled bucket of your running career. You could break your hip in a tragic pogo accident and barely remember it a couple years later. I jumped out of a tree once like a fat kid pretending to be superman and broke my foot. Being a little slow on a run isn't nearly so bad. And I barely remember the tree incident, because I block out all memories from before 5 minutes ago. I recall it being pretty hilarious at the time though.

Am I on fire? Whatever, I can still run.

Most of us have many challenges in life. I don't actually know anyone who spends their life sipping champagne on private jets and lounging naked on far-flung beaches while money magically appears in their coffers.  I do know lots of people who work full time while raising kids while fighting off bird flu or f#*king whatever and still manage to run despite their leg getting mauled by a vicious chipmunk the previous day. These people are superheros. And despite the fact that they probably run out of motivation by about 8:45 every morning, they still manage to send good vibes to a fellow runner who is suffering. Hell, they'll even send those vibes to undeserving assholes like me who somehow find hours to spend on the couch with Coors Light.

I actually drink these two at a time.

What defines runners is that we're experts at pushing ourselves beyond the limits of other mere mortals. To an extent it's understandable if we get down on ourselves, exactly because we hold ourselves to such high standards. But it's just as important for us to have a supportive community, if not more so. We're the Justice League, and very few of us get to be Batman. Most of us will eventually go too far, too hard. And then we'll need a friend to pick us up and say, "you're fine, stop whining; it's only a flesh wound."

So this post is an apology to L.U.N.A.R. for being a jackwad, and more importantly, a thank-you for inspiring and pushing me every day to keep on running. Every day I want to quit and instead really pursue my dream of being a world class alcoholic. But I wouldn't let just myself down. I would let down all the other runners who get up while the badgers still own the land. I would let down the runners who run when the weatherman says, "stay inside if you don't want to die." I would let down the runners who tell their 11 year old kid, "just.... take the car. Go to McDonalds. Mommy has to run." You can see how much I know about parenting.

I used to believe I was Batman. I wanted to be Batman. Not literally. Well....

But every year that I grow older, I realize how much I value the people in my life. My family, my friends, my wild elfen mistress of badassery, Pixie. The folks who read my bullshit (Pixie says my posts are waaay too long... but, but, search engines!). And L.U.N.A.R. When Geoffrey invited me to join, he didn't tell me that I would suddenly have a thousand friends to dust off my sore ass after  I tripped on a curb ("who the hell keeps putting these things around town?!") But now I can't imagine myself without all that love, energy, and support. Thank-you.

And now, by request...
Photo cr. Marc Ryan

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Too Lazy to Run? Get a Dog

I come from a family of cat people. According to some article I read online, I think it means I was a sociopath.

But then about five years ago I got a dog. Finally I was going to join the ranks of affectionate and fun-loving people!

But there was another issue that having a dog would aide me with.

I was chubby as hell.

I looked like a chipmunk storing enough nuts in its cheeks to survive a winter. I had always prided myself on being a fit and health minded individual. But looking back at those old photos of myself, all I can think is, "holy hell, am I actually a balloon?!" Maybe being a cat person hadn't made me sociopathic so much as delusional. But getting a dog was going to fix everything!

Puppy: Cute. Me: Chubby.
I specifically decided to get a very active dog, so that it would force me to exercise. I got a Siberian Husky, Anya. For those who don't know, if a husky doesn't get 50 hours of exercise every day, it destroys all of your furniture.

All of it.

This is how I started running. It was winter. In upstate New York. There was a nice recreational trail behind my apartment, covered in about two feet of snow. Anya and I started running together, very short distances at first. She didn't really run so much as jump through the snow. I destroyed the snow with my bloated mass.

The runs got longer, and I started looking less chipmunk-like. In the Spring Anya shed her winter coat, leaving me a new carpet that covered the whole house. Eventually it got too warm for her, but I kept on running. And excepting a few disastrous injuries (future stories!), I have kept running since.

All thanks to Anya.

I eat cats for supper.
Unfortunately I parted company with my then-girlfriend for reasons I won't share with you voyeuristic scoundrels. And she got Anya. And I got an empty house full of my discarded socks.

After that, I got a cat, because being alone again reminded me that I'm still actually a sociopath. My furry evil minion and I rejoiced in our sinister solitude. But unfortunately this new arrangement wasn't helping my waistline any. My balloon genetics started inflating again.

So I got another dog, Kasha.

Length of tongue indicates amount of exercise.
And off I was again, pounding the grass and pavement with my canine companion. This time I did a better job of sticking to the running. I started counting calories. I started lifting more often than "oh shit, I haven't been to the gym in a month." Eventually I started running too far for Kasha to keep up with me.

Which brings me to a recent awkward tale.

It was a hot summer, and I was running by myself most of the time. Kasha was sitting at home being a general asshole (but in a cute dog sort of way *cough*). My girlfriend Pixie told me, "you have to take him exercising with you. He's young and I've run out of cushions for the couch."

So I decided to take him on a walk. It was a hot day, but a walk is safe, right? I decided on three miles. He would be tired after three miles. Turns out he got tired after two. He was panting copiously. He started stumbling like a drunk on St. Patty's day. Then he just lay down on the side of the road with nary a care in the world.

I was still a mile away from home. So without any other option, I picked him up (all 60 pounds of him... Apparently lack of exercise effects all mammals alike) and slung him around my shoulders like a furry sausage shawl. And I carried him back.

Either he found this immensely amusing, or he was just too tired to care. Trucks rumbled past with bearded guys giving me bewildered looks. "What, have you never carried a dog before? Geez, some people." And then I felt something moist and spongy in my ear.

It was his penis.

I briefly contemplated using a cutesy term like "doggy dongle", but am thoroughly enjoying the moment of awkwardness you're currently experiencing. Just be happy I didn't put it in huge letters.

In any event, the rest of the walk home was very interesting. For both me and Kasha. I'd like to think we were closer afterwards because of it. But, um, try not to think too much about it.

So the moral of the story is: If you're fat and lazy and need impetus to run, get a dog. If you're already an active runner, then maybe don't get a dog.

Get a cat instead.

I miss our runs though.

Bonus content: Cats don't run

They don't. They just sit. More often than not they just f*#k off and you have no clue where they are. For days at a time. One time my cat, Lidka, went missing for a week. I thought she had found a new home full of parakeets. Turns out I had trapped her in my basement for a week.

She was fine. But if there had been any mice in my basement, there weren't any more after that. You'd think I'd learned to be more aware of my cat, but no. After that I locked her in the garage for three days.

My friends and family kept saying, "where is your cat?"

"She's gone forever," I'd say. Not because I wanted her gone, but because I was feeling arbitrarily miserable in that moment and needed an excuse to be even more sad.

"I'm pretty sure she's in the garage," they'd reply, "I can hear her."

"Stop getting my hopes up," I'd say, "just let me mourn in peace."

Then after a while I finally opened the door and there she was, thirsty.

As is apparently the trend with all the creatures in my household, Lidka also has gotten fat. Pixie told me that I should stop giving her half a bag of food everyday, especially as Pixie was the one who bought the pet food. She also told me to put her outside a lot more. But this may have had more to do with the fact that she just loved peeing on my workout clothes, as if to say, "you think these smell now?"

The cat was peeing on my clothes, not Pixie. To be clear.

I still see Lidka in the mornings when I head out to work. I like to imagine that she has a little furry suitcase that she takes with her to her desk at the Rodent Slaughtering Factory. She has a middle management position where she oversees the carcasses of at least half a dozen squirrels and possibly an undersized deer or two.

But who really knows.

Have you seen my suitcase? I have to go to work.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Spartans are Lunatics

I don’t know anything about history.

I know that Washington wore a cool hat. And that Nero liked to play the fiddle, possibly while cities burned. And I also believe that Spartans charged screaming into combat mostly naked.

Mostly naked.

That’s not true. Spartans had shield formations, and would mash up against other armies with shields, and that whichever side poked its spears into the other side the most tended to win. But that would make for a really boring movie. So, raving maniacs with ripped-to-shreds abs. Hell yeah!

But anyway, I’m pretty sure this cinematic version of Spartans is what inspired the Spartan race. I ran it yesterday. And then I ran another 15 miles today, because my muscles were still slightly functional. They no longer are. Although the gallon of beer I drank in the past few minutes has distracted me from this fact.

Beer won’t cure any ills, but it pretends to!

But it’s a beautiful illusion, and I take advantage of it every single day. Every. Single. Day. Because thanks to running, I hurt 100% of the time.

On the morning of the Spartan I got up at about 6:30am and ate a banana. I would complain about having to get up this early, but the fact is, the asshole rooster outside the window wakes me up every day anyway. At least before a race I can feel like he’s doing me a favor. Otherwise he’s a jerk.

One of these is a jerk. The rest play cribbage.

Parking was a mile and a half from the actual race. You had to walk past a mule. No really. So in addition to the three mile Spartan sprint, you had to walk a total of three miles. I also ran three miles before the race, to get my mileage up. So nine miles altogether. The mule also ran the Spartan.

OK no, it didn’t.

The energy at the event area was ecstatic! Folks were signing waivers… Like warriors. They were putting on wrist bands… Like warriors. They were milling around with their noses in their phones… Like warriors. I can’t make too much fun of them though. Most of the people looked like they’d just rolled off the assembly line at the Muscle Factory.

I wore my running kilt, because of course I did. I just realized I haven’t written a post yet about my kilt. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?! It will happen soon. A couple folks asked me if I wore anything under the kilt.


I wasn’t going to flash all the folks behind me for a thousand feet while we crawled under barbed wire or rope. Or while we leapt over walls. Also I didn’t want thick copious mud glommed on to my balls.

Thankfully the handsome man behind me saw underwear, not balls.
Photo cr. Sexy Spartan photographers

I ran into various friends before the race started. I had an absurd starting time, and made an effort to change it. I managed to change it to an earlier time but still not early enough. I kept trying to sneak in with different pals as they left the gate, but a couple of overly cheerful volunteers were checking wrist bands with your start time. I ran alone… Like a warrior.

You had to climb over a 6 foot wall just to get into the starting corral. I like that word: corral. You definitely feel a bit like a cow about to be chewed up by a massive terrifying machine. They distracted us by making us do burpees. If you don’t know what a burpee is, suffice it to say that it makes you tired. And fat people have a lot of trouble with it.

Then we were running! Wild, and free, and trying to not break our ankles on the very uneven ground. The first challenge was some huge hay bales you had to clamber over. I guess I should include the steep hills as a challenge, as most people were walking them. It’s only been a quarter of a mile you slackers! They would not have survived in a battle. Unless they had really nice shields.

Then you had to carry a tire. This wasn’t hard. I grabbed the biggest one they had. This was once on a truck! I told myself.

Human truck
Cr. Sexy photographers

There were walls, which I flew over like a bird. You had to throw a football through a hole. I missed by about four counties. I was punished with bear crawls. Bear crawls are awful, by the way. Then you had to crawl about a thousand feet under barbed wire.

Like an idiot I actually crawled about halfway through. Then I saw other much more intelligent people rolling under them. Oh my god. I really need to stop making fun of lazy people. They are so smart. I did the rolling thing and it was amazing.

I completely forgot to mention that I was soaked in mud the entire race. That was the second “challenge”. I made it more challenging by flinging myself wildly into the mud and sinking up to my knees in it. I’m so freaking smart. Good thing I wore my old shitty running shoes. And my brand new kilt.

There was a tractor pull. Apparently by tractor they meant gnarly cement block. I was really hoping for actual tractors.

Pictured: Small stony tractor
Cr. Sexy photogs

Most of the rest of the race was some combination of crawling or climbing. We had to carry massive sandbags. I jogged with mine because I like to make other people feel bad. I jogged past a ten year old kid who was trying to drag a sandbag that was heavier than himself up a 90 degree hill. Again, I felt like a huge douchebag. That kid was awesome.

I was warned before hand there would be a “memorization challenge”. This Spartan was a college classic, so I guess they had to justify that by engaging our barely functional grey matter. My pals were joking about multiplication tables. Solving chemical equations. Curing cancer in between barbed wire and hay.

You just had to remember a word and seven digits. I memorized the shit out of those digits. I crafted all sorts of elaborate mnemonic devices to help me. F@#k, I still remember it. Oscar-137-8613. But I completely missed the part were I was supposed to recite it back. And ended up doing backwards bear crawls like the many other Alzheimer’s sufferers.

There was a lot of yelling, on my part. I like to yell at these events. It feels appropriate. I yelled in the starting corral. I yelled at the photographers. I yelled at withered old people who were spectating.

The race ended with a series of four hurdles. Most people did a lame one-handed vault. I dived over them like a ninja and rolled to my feet. Folks went ballistic at my bad-assery! Look at this ninja kilt man! I’m so full of myself.

I crossed the line and got ten pounds worth of medals.

Maybe one pound. Shut up.

Then I got my “free drink”. Turns out it was chocolate milk. Not beer.

Not beer.

All in all it was a fun adventurous time. It was easier than I was hoping, but then it was only a sprint. There are longer Spartans that have rope-climbing, and jumping over fire, and slaying rabid dragons. Not just regular dragons. Rabid ones. So if it bites you, not only do you die, you also get rabies.

I didn’t linger long after the race. I said goodbye to my friends and walked the mile and a half back to my car. In my kilt. Covered in mud. I passed hundreds of people who had yet to run the race. The sun had come out and it was hot out. I did not envy them.

I drove to a creek and bathed myself in front of a bunch of terrified children. They weren’t terrified. They didn’t give a shit. They were splashing happily. I think mostly it was the parents who were terrified at this kilted maniac who was slowly stripping off his clothes and washing them like some kind of homeless Scot.

I went to the brewery where Pixie works and “carb loaded”. She’s surprisingly compassionate regarding my self-inflicted injuries. She doesn’t at all call me a stupid idiot like most people would. She doesn’t even roll her eyes when I talk about being awesome and manly.

Awesome manly alcoholic
Photo Cr. Pixie
I say the race wasn’t too bad, but I was destroyed afterwards. I spent the whole rest of the day on the couch, and totally didn’t write this post at that time like I meant to. At some point, Pixie and I went to get deep dish pizza. The driving part was challenging with my sore, whiny feet. But it was oh so worth it.

Then today, the asshole rooster woke me up again. I ran 15 miles with Geoffrey and his lady friend M (her name isn’t really a letter, but maybe she doesn’t want her name blasted out to the world). She’s a L.U.N.A.R runner as well. They connected online and then connected in real life.

The entire time we ran, I made wildly inappropriate comments. Geoffrey said I should write all of the hilarious things that were said in this blog, but I don’t remember any of them. Oh except that at some point we were expressing our jealousy at how light she was. I said, “you’re made of 120 pounds of run. We’re made of 120 pounds of run plus 50 pounds of douchebag.” Which is true.

M is technically tapering for her marathon that’s next weekend. Apparently tapering to her is running over 14 miles at race pace. We threw in a couple of massive hills to try to slow her down, but all it did was trash the shit out of our legs. Did I mention I ran a Spartan yesterday?

I’m in a lot of pain now.

We had a massive, greasy, beer soaked lunch. I asked M to lie and tell all her friends I was charming. Then I yelled at them from my car like a stupid ass when I drove past. I’m great at making impressions. I also left a disgusting soppy surprise in the bathroom: my running shorts. What did you think I meant?

Pixie has had to deal with me alternately drinking and sleeping on the couch today. Apparently tomorrow is Labor day, and I don’t have to work? I’m 100% serious when I say that if it wasn’t for her, I would have gotten up with the asshole rooster and gone to work tomorrow. So, theoretically, I could drink all night long.

I almost can’t feel the pain in my legs anymore.