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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Spaghetti Smorgasboard

There was a spaghetti eating contest on ESPN today. I caught the live action as I was running at the gym. The irony that an eating contest seemed to qualify as a sport on ESPN must have only struck me because the network covered the competition just as it would any other sporting event: interviews, comentators, a graph demonstrating each athlete's prowess. I knew ESPN's definition of a sport was far-reaching, but I had no idea it also embraced gorging oneself as sport.

So, the first head-to-head that I caught was between an older woman and a middle aged man, and that lady kicked his ass! She woofed down three plates of spaghetti (with sauce and meatballs!) before he'd made his way through his second plate. I watched in amazement as plate-replacers jumped in to take away the empty plate and add a new one filled with pasta. It reminder me a bit of those ball fetchers in tennis who jog out onto the court hunched over so as not to interrupt anything and grab the extraneous balls. (Who are those ball-fetchers fooling? We can all see them -- they're not made invisible by crouching down low.)

I believe the woman advanced on to a more difficult round (where I guess they introduce more difficult food -- maybe steaks?), but it was a little hard to follow because then I got wrapped up in the other featured head-to-head competitions, one of which featured this guy who painted his face and seemed to be in really good physical shape -- they had clips of him lifting weights in the gym, all of which seemed contradictory to his sport, but I'm not an expert. They also focused on an young Asian man who was stretching and preparing for his event just as any other athlete would: He looked so intent on his mission, so dedicated.

I don't think I'd last long in an eating competition. Sure, I sometimes eat the cake right out of the pan, but all in all, my stomach is pretty limited in its capacity and just watching that first round of spaghetti eaters made me want to throw up (something I was waiting for from the competitors); I actually felt a little bile in my mouth. I think I'll just stick to the sports where you sweat, bowling remaining the exception.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Reluctant Member

I sorta joined a gym. I went in and took the tour, heard the spiel, and sat down with a sales person to discuss the terms and conditions for my soul. Thankfully with this gym I can go month-to-month and I don't have to commit for three years; however, it's slightly more expensive if you go month-to-month and you have to pay money down. I had to ponder the deal. The sales guy could sense that my resolve was slipping, so he offered me a free eight day trial period in which I could come in as many times as I pleased within eight days and see if I liked it.

I've attended the last four days in a row. Super fantastic, isn't it?

Despite the eerie feeling that I'm being observed (working out in front of others makes me very self-conscious), I think I'll probably go ahead and make the leap: I'm ready to commit. But even though I like the gym (for the air conditioning alone -- although, I think they should cool it to somewhere around 50 degrees; that's the perfect workout temperature, nice and cool; sure the employees may get a touch chilly, but they can wear sweaters) and I've had great workouts (it's amazing how much easier and more enjoyable running is when you're not over-heated or mosquito ridden), I have seen some strange behavior in the gym. People are weird.

Yesterday, for example, I watched these two old guys on treadmills and they both had the incline set at the steepest rise. Any steeper and these guys would need to be Spiderman to be able to walk at that angle, but they were dogged in their determination; you see, they were both hanging on to the bar in front of them for dear life, quite nearly dangling from it. I had the feeling that if either let go of that bar they would go tumbling off the back of the machine. I don't think that's what you're supposed to do on an incline; I'm fairly certain that the dificulty lies in trying to walk that incline as if it were a hill in nature, and so far, I haven't seen any bars in nature that help you up a hill.

Wait, I totally take that back. That's how I got up the side of the bunny hill for years as a kid -- the tow rope. Damn those things, you almost always flipped over into the snow because the pulley was too slow and a ski would get bogged down in some fresh powder, and oops! Down you went. And if you were a kid like me, you'd still be hanging on to the bar because your mitten was frozen to the metal so you couldn't cut loose, and your body cut a wide swath of snow as you were dragged up the hill. Ahhh, there's nothing like fresh mountain air and a snowball up your nose to really enjoy a day at the slopes.

So aside from ski tow ropes, I think you're just supposed to climb your way up a hill side, not hang on and be pulled up the hillside. I think both those old men would have been better off settling for a flat walk. The gym staff would also probably feel a lot more at ease; I wonder how many old people they have to scrape off the floor of the gym every year?

Those two guys (who might or might not have been racing one another) were funny to watch, but the other strange behavior I witnessed not just yesterday but this morning as well, was less humorous and more disturbing. You see, I like my space when I exercise and when I use the toilet. That's why when I walk into a communal bathroom, I am careful to choose a stall that leaves at least one empty stall between myself and another user. That's just common curteousy. The same idea applies when I'm choosing a treadmill or an eliptical machine or whatever; I like to leave at least one (preferrably two) machines between me and any other exercisers. Seems like common sense.

Must be only my sense.

Today, I took the time to carefully select a treadmill in the middle of the second row of machines (that way I get a better view of Jeopardy!). There was plenty of room around me and in the row ahead of me when an old man jumped on the machine directly to my right. I gave a quick "What are you doing?" sideways glance, but he didn't catch on; in fact, he started talking to me. Did I think it would rain today? Wasn't it humid outside? Did I like watching Jeopardy!? My answers: It always rains, yes it's terribly humid, but we live right next to the goddamn equator, and yes, I like Jeopardy! and I really wanted to play along.

He either tired of the walking (he did not opt for the mountain hike as is popular with the elderly gentlemen at the gym) or he decided to choose a machine next to a more suitable walking companion. (Quick note: I'm not much of a conversationalist if I don't know you. I don't like to chit chat with cashiers, sales clerks, haristylists, mechanics or other people I don't know but society expects us to converse with. I'm terrible at small talk and would rather sit in the chair at the salon in silence rather than ask about my hairstylist's children or her new puppy. That's just not me.) I was very much relieved when he left, but then his space was quickly filled by a middle aged woman wearing jean shorts and Keds -- not ideal workout gear, but she was quiet, so I didn't care. But then I was joined by a third companion on my left. This time a disturbingly fit young man (my use of "young man" just made me sound about forty years older than I really am) who looked like he was about 21.

This, in my opinion, is even worse than the chatty-Cathy old guy. Guys just like this one are the reasons I hate going to gyms -- I'm totally intimidated and feel like a 'tard. While guys like this one are grunting and lifting weights, I am quietly pedaling away on the stationary bike in mouse-like fear. So in order to feel like I belonged on the treadmill, I started upping the speed, and pretty soon I was literally sprinting and gasping for air. All red in the face, and sweat dripping down all sides of me, I re-adjusted the speed and decided to ignore the pretty man next to me. I still hated him though: He was so speedy.

After complaining to myself that perhaps this place wasn't for me -- so many people and I like to be solitary when I exercise, I re-thought the situation. All these odd people and machines are just the environment of working out in a gym and really, they're probably just as interesting to watch as the stuff is outside. Plus, in there, I don't get hokned at and I've yet to smell a dead animal (although the possibility of that can't be ruled out just yet), so I think I'll sign up. But I'll milk my free days for as long as they'll let me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Maximum Help in a Maxed Out World

It seems contradictory that the Food Network is advertising for Dexitrim and other diet pills. Is it fair to wave all that gorgeous looking food in someone's face and then tell them that they need to be thinner and that they should eat less? Especially since I've been watching this Italian cooking show that I like (can't recall the name of it) with this big -- has a keg for a belly -- cook; apparently he doesn't buy into the six ads for diet pills that I've seen during the course of his hour long show. Which, by the way, airs at lunch time every day.

I actually used to take diet pills when I was in high school and for the first year I was in college. I was totally freaked out my freshman year of college that I would gain the "freshman fifteen" so I worked out like a maniac and took those diet pills, but I still found that I gained the dreaded weight. Probably because I consumed thousands of calories in beer every week and after the beer orgy, my roommate and I would always come back to our cramped little room and order pizza or Chinese or subs coated in mayo. Sometimes when it was too late to order anything, I would just bury myself face deep in my box of Lucky Charms.

I had an unnatural love for Lucky Charms growing up but my mother never let me have them because they were too sugury and we weren't allowed sugury cereals. So when I got to college, I ate cereal for every meal for about three straight months -- it was delicious. In the dining hall, they actually had a Lucky charms dispenser; I should have taken that home. But once you've barfed up those magical shapes, and you've witnessed how how those marshmallows transform in your stomach, the cereal becomes less appetizing. I can't touch the stuff now.

It's not hard, therefore, to understand that despite munching down speed (that's all those diet pills are anyway; they have a shitload of caffeine in them) I still managed to gain a little weight that first year of college. In my sophomore year, when I was still depending on those pills to help me stay up and study, my boyfirend at the time discovered that I was chewing them like baby aspirin and found my behavior dispicable -- he also didn't approve of many other things I felt were harmless, i.e., shoplifting, drugs, and alcohol abuse -- what a stickler! Anyway, he convinced me to give them up, and I have to admit that the shaky, anxious feeling I constantly had in my stomach eventually went away and it was glorious! However, I did go ahead and pack on the rest of my destined tubbiness: Weight I didn't lose for years after that.

Anyway, my Italian show is over and I don't know what the show is that follows, but I just heard "two cups of lard" in the ingredients, and I have to see if the Dexitrim commercials air during this program. So far, nothing, but they have had three commercials for reducing cholesterol: Makes since if your viewers are scooping up the lard.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Something Bit Me!

Last night when I was running, I was viciously attacked not once, not twice, but three times by killer mostiquitoes! Usually here in South Florida I don't have a problem with mostquitoes; I believe they lay down a heavy fog of pesticides to keep the terrible beasts at bay, but maybe the bugs are beginning to mutate -- maybe they're using the pesticides to become bigger and stronger. I don't know, maybe there is no prtective coating of poison floating through the air, maybe the pollution normally keeps the buggers dead. At any rate, last night I was taken down in the prime of life.

I felt the first hit on the back of my thigh and I quickly stopped in mid-stride and smacked that sonofabitch dead, but I didn't catch the second or third fucker, and they both got away unscathed. I also spotted a mostquito in the house the other day (always relieved to see a mosquito over a coakroach) and I smashed that one in the air.

I'm a pretty decent shot when it comes to mosquito smashing; I lived in Minnesota for eight years, so you either get real good at smacking those damn things, or else you get eaten alive. Thankfully, in Minnesota, they're a little fatter, and therefore a little slower so they're a touch easier to smack. But because they flock in such large numbers, they will certainly overtake you, so really the best protection there is to go outside wearing a beekeeper suit.

But those bites last night made me feel itchy all over, and it was hard to fall asleep without scratching those bites right off. It's kind of like finding a tick on you and then you can't stop feeling like something is crawling all over you (but the worst feeling is to feel like something is crawling on you, and then you discover that something truly is crawling on you; trust me, you won't get to sleep after that). Now I have probably left you feeling itchy and scratchy all over and you're probably doing a quick scan for a creepy-crawly thing. Good luck with that -- you can be vigilant and they'll still get you -- sneaky fuckers.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Barfy Barferson

Last night I fell asleep on the cold tiles of my bathroom floor curled around the toilet in a protective embrace. I'd never noticed the ticking of the bathroom clock before, but early this morning if I'd had the strength, I would have stood and ripped that goddamn thing off the wall and thrown the batteries away. Every tick-tick mocked my pain and felt like a dull thudding against my throbbing skull. The bathroom, I have come to believe, does not make a good place to sleep, excuse me, to pass out.

We were celebrating a 21st birthday, so everyone was paying attention to the birthday girl, making sure she was paced appropriately, providing her with ample glasses of refreshing water, and going easy on the shots. But we were all so busy watching her, everyone forgot to watch me, and by the end of the night I was being pulled off the bar (where I was trying to dance thank you very much) and told that it was time to head home. Once I was in the car, I knew I was in trouble. I could hear the rumbly in my tumbly, but I like to think of myself as a seasoned drinker who can hold her alcohol, so I swallowed hard, opened the window and tried to think non-pukey thoughts.

It didn't work. And to make a potentially long story short, I ended up yaking out my window as we drove home, so today my car wears the spray of my dinner along its side.

Once I got home, more puke followed (but I did manage to shower somewhere between boughts because I'd gotten a little barf in my hair as I puked out the car window at 60 miles an hour) and finally I just curled up on the floor and made camp. This morning every muscle was stiff and sore from lying on the hard floor and my neck and shoulders were tense from the rather forceful hurling (my eyeballs nearly pooped out of my head from the energy behind some of those barfs). Around noon today I managed to choke down half a McDonald's cheeseburger, but it's approaching midafternoon now and I can tell you I still don't feel right.

I don't think a run is in the forecast today.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

About six months ago I bought this training journal that is supposed to motivate me to write down the time, distance, pace, etc of when and how I run. I'm a little bothered by the graphic of the runners on the cover -- I can confidently say that the image was snapped about twenty-five years ago because the running clothes are so ridiculously out of style and the woman has her hair in a french braid tied with a scrunchy and she's wearing a Swatch (I was sad to see those go out of fashion -- they were awesome -- I had a whole bunch of different bands that I could interchange with the face: what genius! How did the Swatch company lose their touch?). The little journal boasts on the cover that over 200,000 copies have been sold, so you'd think the publishers could afford to update the cover with a depiction of some more modern day runners.

I blame the campy picture on the cover for not keeping me motivated to record my running within its pages. Plus, I think the woman in the picture might be a man; she has huge calves and meaty arms and there's a certain squareness to her jaw. She can't fool me with that gold necklace: I know the truth.

However, recording your running is supposed to be one of those tried and true methods for improving your running and for motivating you to stick with it. Just like diets always encourage you to keep track of the food you eat in a food journal, but honestly, how does this help? On days when I know I ate too much I can tell because I lay on the couch with my distended belly groaning in misery. That's usually a good indication that I overate. And as far as my running goes, I also know when I have run and how far I have run in a week -- it's called a long term memory. It's this amazing aspect of my brain chemistry that enables me to recall events from days, weeks, months and even years ago: fascinating.

So part of me thinks I should just pitch the runner's journal and swallow the fact that I shelled out $9.95 for it, but another part of me is reluctant to let go of something that should help me improve. Perhaps I will use it to start filling in ludicrous entries about my running; oh wait, that's what I do in this blog. Sonofabitch, it's going in the trash.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Alright, I was taking the time to read through some of my previous posts, and I was embarassed to find so many typos. So I would like to take a minute and apologize for the mechanical errors in the writing; generally, I pride myself on being an A+ writer, but I guess there are times that I suck. Please overlook any mistakes.

Thank you.

Bally's Total Ripoff

It's somewhere around 1,000 degrees outside and everything is sagging in the heat. The upholstery in my car singed the backs of my thighs and the steering wheel bears my fingerprints. Even the lizards look hot and tired out there: They look at you like, "Dude, it's fuckin hot out here." (I always imagine that lizards have voices in Latino accents, so try to utilize that accent when reading that line in your head.)

Not pleasant weather for exercising outside.

I've been thinking about joining a gym so that I can run on a treadmill during the day in the comfort of central air, but I hesitate to sign up at any gym because of the contracts, the fees, and the fact that I usually stop going anyway. Statistically, I think gyms actually count on members to stop attending, that way they can continue to make money from you, but can also continue to recruit new members without worry of overcrowding. The last gym I joined bound me to one year's membership, several hundred dollars, and my soul. The soul I was happy to hand over (what am I going to do with it anyway?), but the money and the committment? Whoa, that was a lot to agree to.

But the day I signed up I was feeling like a tugboat, so I handed over a check and sealed the deal with my Herbie Hancock. Unfortunately, I failed to read the fine print of the contract, so after a year was up, and I hadn't been attending for about six months, and I had moved to different state, I found that I was still being billed for my time there. Well, I got sufficiently worked up and sent them an angry letter complaining about the bills. They in turn calming informed me that I had failed to notify them that I would terminate my membership (something you have to do sixty days before your contract is scheduled to expire), so I had to pay several months worth of membership fees, plus late fees, plus a fee for being snarky with them. In the end, I spent half a year's membership for months that I lived 2,000 miles away from any of their treadmills.

That experience pissed me off enough to make me feel jaded and cynical about gyms for quite awhile, but now that the temperature makes running outside so difficult, and running around my house just isn't practical, I now return to the idea that perhaps I should scout out a place. But I am, of course, completely indimidated by gym people, so I don't like to actually go in there -- I just know they'll rope me into a deal with their quick talk and flashy spandex. So I like to do a little reconnaisance work; essentially, this means driving slowly by the establishment and trying to catch a glimpse of the envrionment through their windows. This is tricky because many places don't have a lot of windows, in which case I try to gauge the other clientele by the cars parked in the lot.

If there are a lot of Beamers, Mercedes, or other shiny vehicles then I know it's not for me: too expensive and the people working out there probably have designer workout clothes. But if the lot is empty, but I can see a lot of people inside, this means it's most likely chock full of old people who hitched a ride there on the city bus, in which case, I don't want to go there either. Old people are likely to piss me off at the gym just as much as they piss me off in the grocery store (say what you will about respect for the elderly, but when you're stuck behind an old woman haggling with a cashier over a $.60 can of green beans, you'll start to hate them as well). I just know that an old person would be on a coveted treadmill forever, walking, when I want to run on it.

So I look for a place with the parking lot filled with economy cars and the people heading inside look averagely tubby and who are wearing sweats and t-shirts. I also like to see a lot of middle-aged people -- I may be young, but I don't like to be compared with people my age, that makes me feel like poo; however, I do look good when compared to someone who's forty or fifty years old. So I have one place in mind; it scouts out pretty well, but I haven't yet gathered up the courage to go in and face their recruiter because I know that once I committ to stepping through that door, I've committed to that gym, and I'm going to have to hand over some money, I'm going to need to sign something, and I'm going to have to forge the certificate for my soul -- the original is in a vault belonging to the aforementioned gym.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Singin in the Rain

Last night when I was running, the sky opened up and began to pour rain, which was weird because there weren't any discernible clouds. I felt just one or two scout drops and suddenly I looked up and it started to come down in heavy sheets. I was only half way through my route, so by the time I reached home I was soaked. But I didn't mind too much; running in inclement weather alwasy makes me feel like a real Runner (that's right, capital R, grrrrr).

It just makes me feel like I'm really an athlete, like the kind they make movies about where the star is running and there's an inspirational soundtrack and he or she has that look of determination and you just know they're going to win in the end (since sports movies are always about winning, and sometimes about not winning, but feeling good about yourself). But despite the grit-your-teeth-running-through-the-rain-or-in-the-early-morning-hours, you don't see too many running movies. In fact, the most memorable running moment in a movie for me is when Rocky finally runs up the steps to Philadelphia's Library and he's so happy that he made it, and he's jogging around with that idiot smile on his face with his arms raised in triumph. That's a good running moment -- stairs! Jesus, they're hard, and he deserves snaps -- but that's a boxing movie, not a running movie.

Maybe there aren't many running movies because running isn't all that exciting. There's not any conflict (unless you dig deep and discuss the internal struggle), there's no "big" game or fight to highlight in the end, and there isn't a team to pull together (even in boxing movies, there's a coach and a trainer both of whom kind of make up a team with the actual boxer). Maybe running should be re-vamped to get a glossier image, one that people could make movies about. We could make running a contact sport -- runners can wear little belts with plastic flags and other runners can strip them of their flags, or perhaps we can go for full-out tackling. You could form teams in select cities and people could pay money to gather in stadiums to watch them run and tackle one another, but for excitment purposes maybe there should be a ball; you know, something they have to get across a finish line.

Oh dammit, that's football. No wonder there's so many movies about that sport: it's got some good elements!

Sorry running, you'll just have to be happy with the Boston and New York City marathons, and I guess we can give you a large portion of the summer Olympics. But Hollywood doesn't want you.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I don't how painting compares to running in terms of calories spent, but I do believe it's a damn hard workout. Maybe I'm rollering away like a maniac (I do manage to get paint in my hair and all over my clothes), but when I'm painting, I'm sweating and breathing hard. Plus, you have to contort your body into some of those strange positions -- where one foot is on a step ladder and another is on a window sill and you've got the paint balanced carefully on the step ladder while you reach to get that one spot in a top corner of a closet that no one will ever see because junk will pile up there anyway -- and I always end up feeling sore the next day along my sides and in my arms and shoulders. There have been some weeks during our remodeling project that the palm of my hand has actually been sore from holding paintbrushes, scrapers, or sanders.

It's tough work and I can't help but think there's a better way to do it, like with elves or night gnomes. Can't they be hired or rented out for this kind of labor? Surely there must be some kind of indentured servant who can scrape wallpaper, putty, and sand just as well as I can; maybe the zoo loans trained monkeys for projects such as this.

I need someone to do it, aside from me of course, because after an afternoon of painting I really don't feel like running. I just want to take a shower, get into bed and watch re-runs of Seinfeld. I especially want to get into bed today though because we just bought a new bed, and I have to tell you, it's wonderful.

I don't know about you, but until yesterday I had managed twenty-seven years of my life without ever having to go matress shopping, and I hope it's another twenty-seven years before I have to do it again. All the mattresses I've slept on in the past years have either been hand-me-downs or have been purchased second hand, so I've never been educated on "spring coil technology" (which sounds strangely similiar to the sort of language they use to sell me things at the make up counter) and I had never before thought that mattress retail would be so similiar to buying a used car. However, despite the lack of plastic flags lining the perimeter, the experience of mattress shopping was almost identical to that of buying a car, so be prepared to negotiate. Otherwise, you're being robbed! You may feel out of place or uncomfortable walking into a store, laying down on some beds and feeling as though you are entitled to discuss prices, but if you too need a new mattress, this is what you will find yourself doing. I never thought I would have to argue over prices while lying in bed (because I never really aspired to be a hooker); but sure enough, I found myself in a strangely compromising position: haggling with the salesperson while stretched out on a mattres that felt like heaven.

Be strong with your resolve to get a good price because that Pillow Top will do a lot of talking itself, and your body may not be so eager to bargain. Thankfully, I enjoy a good argument and I whittled one manager down to a point where I think she was ready to include her first born child with the mattress, box spring, and frame, but she still wasn't willing to drop the price as low as I needed her to go. In the end, we did find what we were looking for, for the price we wanted, and we even got to bring it home right away -- a big selling point for me; I'm inpatient and when I decide I want something, I want to get my grubby little hands on it that day. So, we got it home and set it up, and immediately I was intimidated by the size. It was way bigger in our room than it was on the mattress showroom floor.

I'm a small person, so when I tell you that the top of the mattress comes up to my waist, it really doesn't mean much, but when I had to take a little run and hop to get into bed, I feared a bit for my life. What would happen if I rolled off and cracked my head open? Would my fiance even notice I was lying on the floor bleeding to death? Probably not because the new mattress is supposed to reduce the amount of distubance you get from your sleeping partner, so in reality if I fell off, cracked my head open, and screamed bloody murder as I drifted off into death, he would most likely be so sound asleep that he'd never hear my wails.

However, the new bed was so comfy last night that my fears quickly evaporated in a wonderful night's sleep on what felt like a cloud. And ever since I was forced to leave that nest this morning, I've been longing to return. So now that I've finished paiting, and my muscles ache from the exertion, I am seriously thinking of taking a hot bath, having a cup of tea, and getting back into that new bed. But I have resolved to be good runner this week -- totally committed to the effort, so I suppose I'll delay all those wonderful rewards until a little later.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Bug Booger

I was sluggish and slow when I headed out for my run this evening and the heat didn't help. It's so hot and humid outside, it's like stepping into a sauna ( or like vacationing in hell in August), and to try and pep yourself up to run in that kind of heat is a bit difficult. But I did it, and despite the temperature, I was thinking that it was a lovely evening -- good summer smells, twilight air -- but then I saw This Couple approach me.

They were jogging along in perfect synchonization, both pairs of long legs hitting the sidewalk in exact unison. They were both making the stretchy shorts look good, and he was shirtless -- tanned muscles tight from the exertion of their challenging, yet satisfying run together -- and she, she was in just her sports bra and she had those chiseled abs that I sometimes poke around for on myself to see if they're under there hiding. They both glided along the surface of the pavement with their matching iPods belting out the same song I'm sure -- perhaps a soulful jazz riff; I don't know, but they both looked so peaceful.

Meanwhile, I was just working up to full chugging speed, so I was already pouring sweat and I'm sure my face was the beet red color it gets when I exert myself (they were artfully flushed, and I assume perspiring, but truly they looked like running ads for a skin care line). My t-shirt had the ring of sweat around my neck, and I could feel the boob sweat creeping down my non-so-flat stomach, and my shorts (gray cotton ones that bunch up between my thighs) were starting to get all moist from the sweat and they were balling up.

But I was thinking, fuck it, I'm just as good as they are, I'm just as much a runner. Maybe I don't look pretty, but dammit, I'm working hard out here. So I was feeling alright about myself despite the pretty people who weren't sweaty in the devil's heat.

Then a bug flew up my nose.

Now, I'm no strangers to bugs up my nose, but this son of a bitch went in their like a fighter pilot. It actually stung a bit when he made impact and my eyes began watering right away. He went straight up there into my left nostril. I started flailing my arms in front of me helplessly and I was choking and snorting. I coughed and sputtered to a stop and the models for "Runner's World" jogged on past as I bent over next to the path and tried to exhume the gnat's corpse from deep inside my nasal cavity, but I couldn't fish it out, so I believe the bug went somewhere straight up into my brain. (Reminds me a bit of the time my step-brother, Timmy, sniffed a Hot Wheel tire up his nose and we had to go to the emergency room. But that's a story for another time.)

I decided right then and there to cut the run short and walk back home. I still have an itch in my nose; I'll probably blow it tomorrow and see the small, black body of that doomed gnat. Poor little fella, he probably never knew what hit him

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Two days ago I got a massage and the masseuse told me that I had knots that were so hard it was like rubbing bone. It kinda hurt, no wait, really hurt, the way she kneaded and pounded those knots out of me. I was like the metaphorical putty in her hands, and she beat the shit out of me. At times I wanted to concede and yell "uncle," but I just gritted my teethed and tried to think of flowing brooks and so forth so that I could relax -- which is what I thought a massage was supposed to be about.

After she was finished and she'd done everything short of pummle me with rocks, I actually felt kind of good. I had an strange tingling in the tips of my fingers, which I assume was increased blood flow, and I felt a certain relief of pressure in my neck and shoulders, and presumably more blood was flowing to my brain. She said that I should try to take a few moments a day to take some deep breaths and relax -- apparently I'm just a ball of anxiety.

But two days later, and I'm still sore. I expected to see visible bruises the day after, but there was no sign of her physical abuse (although I ususually carry the marks of a few errant bruises anyway; I run into a lot of furniture and used to fall off a lot of barstools). My muscles still feel clobbered, but I guess that just means it's working. She said I need to come back more often and get massages regularly so she can fully knead me into pliable dough.

All this rubbing is supposed to make my muscles stronger and healthier, so I can run better and won't be sos sore, but I can't help but think it may just make them lazy. Tension helps keep them taunt -- I don't want them to think they can just relax and get flabby. I'll have to give this torture artisit some serious consideration.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sleepy Day

The paper clip icon who is a part of Microsoft Word on my office computer is currently sleeping. He was perky when I first turned on the system and got things going, but he quickly slumped down against the sheet of lined paper that shadows him. He's even emmitting little snoring sounds. I clicked on him a moment ago just so he could feel like he had something to do, but he merely raised one penciled eyebrow at me and asked if I needed to search for something. Since I really didn't, I clicked out and he looked a little miffed at me. Now he's disappeared.

But I don't blame him for feeling sleepy. I'm all tuckered out as well and, of course, did not rise early to run today. At night, I have these grand ambitions about getting up an hour early and running. In the evening it doesn't seem like it should be so hard, but when that early alarm goes off first thing in the morning, I immediately regret thinking that I could get up. Ineveitably, I just reset it and go back to sleep for the remaining hour.

Something tells me that I might have more energy and pep if I actually responded to that early alarm and heaved myself out of the deep comforts of bed, but I just don't have the will. Usually, I run at night, but right now, I have classes two nights a week and bowling one night a week, and when I get home from either, it's too dark and too late to tie up the running shoes.

Sometimes I read about people who run or work out on their lunches, but I'm hungry on my lunch so that's really not for me. I don't know how to do it, but I need to find a way to give myself a window of time for running; otherwise, it doesn't get done. I read an article in "Runner's World" last year with our beloved President George Dubya (a pretty committed runner) about how excuses for not running aren't legitimate, and that people who say they don't have time for exercise are the same ones who say they don't have time for their families. I hate that bastard. So, I figure if that fucker can find time to run, so can I, dammit.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

8 Worst Running Songs

It would be too balanced to write a "five worst running songs," so I have chosen eight, at random, as I chose most things. So, here they are in descending order:

8. "Simple Pages" by Weezer
Okay, personally, I love Weezer, huge fan, but even though their songs sound fast-paced and upbeat, they're actually kind of hard to run to. Even some tracks from their new album, which I love listening to in my car, come off as flat in my MP3 player while I'm running, and I just fast-forward through them. I do, however, always recommend Weezer when you are drunk or high -- there's no better Weezer then, especially "Island in the Sun"! Dance around drunk to that!

7. "I Will Survive" by Cake
Now the Gloria Gaynor version may be more appropriate for running because there's that disco beat, but Cake's version is just not for running. But it is an excellent song, escpecially if you've just broken up with someone and you want to give the big metaphorical "fuck you!" The lyrics don't get any better than: "I shoulda changed my fuckin locks/ I shoulda made you leave your key!" I used to live for the Tuesday nights at Hard Times in Bemidji when Junction 51 would play this version! Yeah, that's good revenge music, just not good running music.

6. "Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel
Now this may seem obvious to some, but for many of us it's hard to seperate the songs we truly love from the ones that we want to run to. I grew up on this song. It doesn't get any better than John Cusack standing outside Ione Skye's window in "Say Anything" with that boom box blasting this song. Now that's love, with L-O-V-E! But, it's not a running song.

5. "Harder to Breathe" Maroon 5
Once again, I'm a fan of Maroon 5, no matter how much flack I may receive from the boys, but I like them. Anyway, I love the beginning of this song with its hard drum intro, but after that, it really doesn't have much to keep you going. I think Maroon 5 may be better suited to long car trips, and then, only if your boyfriend/husband/significant other will let you.

4. "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin
Okay, the classic rockers are really made for drugs, not running. And this song is certainly more fast tempoed (gotta be the most awkward musical term in history) that let's say, "Stairway to Heaven" -- which definitely is not a running song -- but it still doesn't work. Almost, but not quite.

3. "Senorita" by Justin Timberlake
Now, generally I'm all about J. Timberlake, yes, I'll admit it. But so many of his songs are dance songs, and even though that sounds like it will be a good running song, that's not actually true. Boo for Justin. Sorry, dude.

2. "Feel Like Makin Love" by Bad Company
It's for "makin love"! Jesus, do the instructions have to get more clear than that! Don't load it in your running file!

1. "Colorblind" by The Counting Crows
I totally recommend this song if you're thinking about staying home on a Friday night, lighting a few candles, taking a bath, and perhaps feeling sorry for yourself. If you want to include a few qualudes and a razor blade, this song is perfect for that. It's the most depressing song ever, not necessarily because of the lyrics (which are actually quite optimistic) but because of the slow, quiet piano which dominates the song. So, while it's good for feeling truly blue (or, really "red" as Holly Golightly says in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") about yourself, or perhaps good for a quiet afternoon alone, it is not good for running. Don't use it. But do listen to it -- excellent song, I give it four and a half out of five stars.

So, those are the eight. Eight seems like a nice, round number. But now I must trot off to bed. Hmmm, what would be good bedtime songs so I can rest and get up in the morning and run songs?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Top Five Songs

Here's my top five songs for running:

5. "Two Step" by Dave Matthews Band
Normally I think DMB would make an odd choice for a running song, but this song is fast-paced and energetic -- especially the beginning.

4. "Body Movin'" (remixed version) by The Beastie Boys
This has some of the necessary beats and rythyms that make running seem so much easier; you can practically feel your feet trying to pound out the song as they hit the pavement. This song is also a key track because it's long -- nearly ten minutes -- so if you can keep up with it, you've probably gone about a mile (depending on your pace). The only problem is that the lyrics are repetitive, so if you're someone who tires of the redundancy of "Body movin', body movin..." then perhaps it's not for you.

3. "Special" by Garbage
I love Garbage, and they actaully have a lot of songs that work well for running, or exercising in general, because they have such a techno underscore (right musical term? I have no idea). But this song is particularly good for running. Just try it. You'll like it.

2. "Hey Mama" by The Black Eyed Peas
You can't go wrong with the Peas, and this song is great in a lot of settings: for dancing, for driving, but also for running. I often like to start with this song -- it sets the mood.

And lastly, drum roll please, my number one running song:
1. "Pain" by Jimmy Eat World
A. The title just says it all. B. Who doesn't like Jimmy Eat World? Boo, to any sceptics that think they were a one hit woner several years ago with "The Middle" -- I love them.

So, those are my picks for running, perhaps tomorrow I'll list the worst songs for running!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Non-Runner's World

Even when I'm not keeping up with the running, I still like to read the Runner's World that I get in the mail. It makes me feel like a professional athlete, and I like to believe that the mailman is impressed with my magazine choice. Perhaps he wonders what kind of hot, athletic girl I am. But sometimes I find that Runner's World is inaccessible for the beginning runner. Sure, I enjoy articles on health and how to get a better mile, but I'd also like to some articles on how to even run a mile.

Let's face it, Runner's World has a target audience, and I believe that target audience is runners who aim to run upwards of thirty miles a week and who train religiously for marathons, and the newest form of masochism, the ultra-marathon. But what about the rest of us? Those who are struggling to establish a running routine or those who are working toward 5 or 10ks, don't we deserve a publication as well?

So here's what I would do if I ran "Non-Runner's World":

1. I would totally re-vamp all the pictures and use some everyday looking people, not the models or super-duper tri-athletes they currently scrape up out of nowhere (seriously, where do all these people come from?); no, I don't want trim, fit looking women in their state-of-the-art sports bras and stretchy shorts -- which aren't as form fitting as you are led to believe by those pictures, mine hike themselves into my nether regions and make running a little difficult. I want all ages of men and women in their sweat pants and too large t-shirts and sports bras that are running threadbare on the sides. I also want to see running shoes with grass stains, paint splatter, and lizard guts. I don't want abs of steel, I want to see a little of that spare tire hanging out over the sides, and I definitely want to see how normal people look in those stretchy shorts (just to confirm that I'm not a genetic freak; you know, the only one they look terrible on).

2. No more action shots of runners with their MP3 players perfectly poised on their toned biceps, earplugs in place. Instead, I want to see a picture of an actual runner sweating and struggling to keep that one damned earpiece in (the one that keeps flopping out onto your shoulder) and is either tugging on the fucking armband strap to pull it up or to loosen it so that they can get some blood flow back to their brain. I mean, I love to listen to my music when I run, but between the fact that my earplugs literally have a 12 inch discrepency in cord length and that my arm strap digs into my plump flesh or else just sags into my forearm, I usually end up leaving the thing at home rather than fight with it all the way. I have enough to fight with while I run (refer back to my comment about those motherfuckers, the stretchy shorts).

3. Also, I want an end to success stories. Sure, I know they're inspiring and crap, but I'd like a few more stories about people who feel like they hate running. I need to read stories about people who thought they might die of exhaustion, or who threw up, or who were almost run down by a busload of old people. I want stories about the clouds parting and rain falling in torential sheets, but just on your running route. I want stories about carloads of hooting teenagers and stationary construction workers (they, appartently, like the stretchy shorts). I want tripping, slipping and falling stories -- I want to hear about the bruises and see the scars from the rocks that are still embedded under the skin. I want stories about salespeople at the running store who lift their one trick eyebrow in mocking condecension when you request a watch to record your times or when you ask if they have any shoes for your child-like feet. And dammit, I want stories about the people who come in last place in a race, or else had to sprint the last hundred yards just to tie with an 80 year old man who walked most of the way. I want stories of failure and half-assessed attempts at success. I want running as I see it when I pass by store windows: It's not pretty.

4. Lastly, my final change in my new periodical. I want to know what kind of drugs will help give me more energy and run longer and faster. I know, I know, the real Runner's World does not promote the use of any kind of stimulant (blah, blah, blah), but I want to know what I need to really get out there and be the speeding bullet I know I can be. Do I need a little speed? Heroin? Cocaine? Can I use some old-fashioned caffeine or perhaps an anabolic steroid? What will do the trick? Because I'm tired of reading about how running in and of itself will give you more energy, or how eating healthy will give you a lift. I want to know the dirty little secrets of the real runners. C'mon, give us the scoop. (I was listening to someone who was telling me that she didn't like to put "poisons into her body" -- mind you she was eating a cream filled donut from Dunkin Donuts while she said this -- and said she didn't even like to take Tylenol. My response? Repressed laughter and finger pointing. Who doesn't need some toxins? Fuck, load me up. The green tea washes it all away anyway, right?)

So, these would be the basic changes to my new running magazine. Maybe the publishers of the real Runner's World will be willing to provide me with the funds to launch just such a magazine. Somehow I doubt it. Probably I'll have to underwrite it myself as well as publish it from my basement. Will you buy a copy?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Fatty-fatty two by four

That's what they'll call me soon: I haven't gone running all week and I feel like a tub of goo. I'd like to go today but after cleaning and working on the house all day, I really gotta say that I don't feel like it. Maybe I need a little of that magical green tea.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Green Tea

These days you hear a lot about how green tea cures everything from a headache to a touch of cancer. Magical stuff this tea. Now, it is reported (as the surely accurate "Woman's Day" boasts) that green tea can help you loose weight. A quick search on the internet will reveal that green tea practically burns the pounds right off of you. So, you might be asking yourself, is this for real? Can tea really do anything to change your metabolism, let alone burn the pounds off?

As a girl who just dropped a Cheet-o headed for her mouth, I'm counting on that cup of tea a day to melt the pounds off. And as I stare into my mug now and study this mysterious green concoction, I begin to feel a specific answer float up out of the depths of my brain: I hope so.

I first started forcing the tea down about three months ago when I went to stay with my grandpa. He doesn't touch the stuff, says it's awful, but my aunt had bought some because the nurse had advised it for my grandfather's sore throat. Let me advice those of you who aren't tea drinkers, green tea is the nastiest tasting tea out there, it's kinda like swallowing gulps of warm, liquified grass, but once you begin to make it routine, it starts to taste good. (But who am I? I used to try my horse's oats when I was a kid, and after awhile, grew quite fond of them.)

Anyhoo, the first real benefit I noticed from the tea was regularity. (I write this portion now with caution both for the sake of my reputation, and because I am composing at work, so excuse me if I refer to the almighty "poo" with some euphemisms.) Granted, this B.M. came in the form of various shades of green, but some of us take what we can get. But I found the color didn't matter, what did matter was size. Goodness! The size! Initially, I must have lost two or three pounds just in shit! That alone seems to justify a cup of the green stuff.

But the second thing I noticed about drinking green tea was that it truly did perk you up, and it's not caffinated (which for someone who's been addicted to caffeine since in utero, this is quite a desirable trait). True, it's not the shot in the head that an Excedrin Migraine tablet is, but it's still perky. So both the poo and the perkiness make green tea a valuable commodity on its own without these supposed weight loss miracles.

However, if this stuff somehow balances out the Cheet-o consumption, I'm all for it. After all, I haven't been very vigilant about the running and something should be counter-acting the over-eating and drinking (again, too much to drink after bowling last night), and I believe in the power of green tea almost as much as Tom Cruise believes in Scientology. Don't worry, I won't tell you that green tea will heal depression.