Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The five people you meet when running

The highlight of my year thusfar, running-wise -- well, and pretty much otherwise -- came in a 5K when I finished first in my 40-44 age group, or as I affectionately refer to us, "aspiring Medicare recipients."

That's right, I'm finally competing against the over-40 crowd.  I've been waiting for this for years!  I knew eventually most of the other guys would get fat, lazy, or married -- busy with kids, wives, actually having a social life, or being productive members of society.

Not me!

I know people say, "All that matters is that you finish."


Maybe that's all that matters for your very first race.  But after that, all anyone talks about is PR's and their new GPS watches and "Are you guys doing the color run in June?"  When all I really wanna do is get my free t-shirt, win a trophy in my age group, and call my Mom the next day to see if my name is in the newspaper even though no one reads newspapers anymore anyway... except for my Mom.

Oh, and enjoy my runner's high, of course.  I do believe the runner's high exists.  I have found that for me, it usually follows the five stages of grief.

There's the this-isn't-gonna-be-so-bad denial, the Oh-my-God-we've-only-run-two-miles anger, the just-don't-puke-just-don't-puke-just-don't-puke bargaining, the how-did-that-seventy-year-old-man-just-pass-me depression, and the I'm-really-going-to-die-right-here-on-this-flippin-road acceptance.

This past Saturday was my hometown 10K run.  It rained throughout the race and I got nipple burn like never before and spent the rest of the weekend walking around with Band-Aided areolas (areolae?).

For those of you who have never experienced it, nipple burn falls just behind being kicked in the privates and a colonoscopy/STD swab/having a catheter inserted on the list of the most intense pains of a man's life.  Just ahead of never winning your father's approval/your favorite ball team losing a big game.

Anyhow, I finished 3rd among the aspiring Medicare recipients.  The two guys ahead of me must have absolutely no life whatsoever!  Seriously, we're talking no kids, rarely go out on weekends, probably have a blog and haven't been inside a movie theater since 2012.

(What's everyone looking at?)

I thought of something Saturday as I was struggling to not refund my breakfast of chocolate chip cookies and a Sun Drop (you amateur runners, don't try that at home). And that is, all the races I've ever run all have certain types of runners -- characters, if you will -- in common.

So with apologies to Mitch Albom, I now present the five people you meet when running a race:

1. Circle-Back Guy

Circle-Back Guy finishes the race in the top five overall, then as the rest of the field is still far from the finish line, they meet Circle-Back Guy jogging the course backwards.  Occasionally, he might offer words of encouragement.  But really, he's just letting you know not only did he beat you, but he's had time to grab a beverage, have his picture made for said antiquated newspaper, and jog a half-mile or more the wrong way to where you are coming to grips that your life is most likely going to end right here on this wretched 10K course.

It's a real life #humblebrag is what it is.

Sometimes I like to pretend CBG locked his keys in his car so he has to jog all the way home from the race.  (Because he can't afford a locksmith and doesn't have any friends or family he can call?)  And if I weren't in the midst of struggling for my final breaths upon this Earth, that would make me smile.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I AIN'T no circle-back guy.  Hey-o!

2. The Can't-Pass-Me Kid

The start of a race is like an obstacle course.  You're weaving in and out of people, trying to avoid those putting down a 12-minute mile, occasionally hurdling small children (or elbowing them out of the way, "accidentally" of course).

This is partly because a certain number of the younger kids will start off running as fast as they can.  By the half-mile mark most of them are out of breath.  But inevitably, there is at least one kid who lasts a little longer than the others.  And even though you've been gaining on him (it's almost always a boy) for a while, when he sees you about to pass him, he finds a second wind and goes back ahead of you.

I'm quite sure it is this kid who one day grows up to be the driver who suddenly speeds up just as you're about to pass them.

3. Looks-Like-Tarzan-Runs-Like-Your-Grandma Guy

Or as I like to refer to him, Edwin Poses.  This guy has all the latest gear: $200 running shoes, knee-high compression socks, heart-rate monitor, Garmin GPS Forerunner, maybe even a personal hydration system.  Looks like he came right off the pages of Runner's World magazine.

You see him before the race, you're thinking this guy's gonna be a contender.  Then you pass him around the three-quarter mile mark, huffing and puffing, but still with perfect posture, checking his pace on his Garmin.  Uh yeah, that's a 10:30 mile there, Edwin. With negative splits on the way.

4. The Unwitting Motivator

Alas, this goddess of pavement and polyester normally (and unknowingly) makes herself known to me after the first mile or so.  Once everyone has settled into their pace and all the kids have been shoved out of the way like the parting of the Red Sea, this asphalt angel appears ahead of me, ready to lead me to the promised land.  She becomes my reason, my motivation.  Because I gotta be honest, seeing my name in print in a dying media sometimes isn't enough anymore.

She can be older, younger, or indeterminate.  Really anyone with a ponytail and a sub-9-minute-mile pace will do.  Besides, I find that the girls all start looking like Kate Upton around fainting time.

(Pause to Google-image Kate Upton.......)

Aaaaand we're back.

5. The Social Runner

The last person on our list of the five people you meet when running a race is likely one of the first persons you will encounter on race day.  This social butterfly makes the rounds before the race, introducing herself and making small talk with anyone and everyone.

It's 7 o'clock in the morning and she's just a little too happy to see everybody.  WTF?  Did she load her personal hydration system up with Red Bull?  Are they giving pre-race B-12 shots over in the medical tent?

Sometimes, she's even social during the race, especially the first couple of minutes.  And it always makes me wish I'd worn my "Back off, effer!  I don't like people." button.

I mean, if I had such a button.

I would like to close today with a PSA brought to you by NURPLED, which stands for Nippular Understanding Regarding Pain which Leads to Eventual Discharge:

Thank you.

Also, my apologies for some of the language in this post.  Horse hockey, effer, and flippin' are not words I use in everyday dialogue.  However, I felt they were necessary to convey the true feeling of various aspects of this story.

*** Readers who enjoyed this post also enjoyed the 2010 near-classic, Thursdays With Bone.  And be watching for The First Text You Get From Your Mom, the next post in my anthology of Mitch Albom tributes.

Is tributes the right word?

"Few times I've been around that track / So it's not just gonna happen like that / 'Cause I ain't no hollaback girl..."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sweet Home

Sweet home
Red state
My boy ain't gay
Wasn't raised that way
Don't care what you say

It's not black and white
Most times it's gray
But we were way
Too black and white
For too many days

School door's closed
Church bombs blow
Marchin' on for right and fair
Some still choose
To close their eyes
But I wish I
Could have been there

Would I have
Hidden in
Safety of my home
Would I have
Had courage to
Join in that glorious throng

Sweet home
Red state
But some of us
Are blue

Judge not
Lest ye
Grew up
In Dixie

Let us bow our heads
And pray for all
'Cause I believe God is love
And heaven is gonna be

Monday, May 12, 2014

Music Monday: The one where I mention all of you

It feels like it's been about three days since my last post.


It's been eleven.

It's mid-May and I've posted exactly four new blog entries this year.  Good heavens, the Rolling Stones put out more new material than I do.

It appears getting back into blogging is going to be more difficult than I imagined.  This must be how Mister Kotter felt when he returned to Brooklyn, "4th Largest City in America."  He gave his first test, then didn't grade it for like ten days.  (That was one of the lost episodes, I'm sure.)

Anyway, that's how I feel.  I'm Gabe Kaplan, and you guys are my Sweathogs.  Sage, you can be Washington.  Ed, you're Epstein.  Umm... Jill, you wanna be Barbarino?  I think we all agree John Travolta was as pretty as a woman anyway, am I right?

OK, scratch that.  I'm gonna need a lot more male readers for this Welcome Back, Kotter analogy to work.

How about this?  You're all Charlie's Angels, and I'm the Tom-Bosley-looking guy who played on the show.


Alright, I got it.  It's Three's Company!  TC, you're Janet.  Heidi, you're Suzanne Somers, always off writing your poetry.  I'm John Ritter, naturally.  Sage, you're Mister Furley.  MarkD, you can be Larry or Mister Roper, your choice.  Um, Cindy you can be Cindy, because obviously.  Hilary, you can be the other girl who came after Suzanne Somers. I think she was a nurse, and we can just pretend she's from Canada.

No, wait, wait, wait!  It's "Happy Days!"  I'm Scott Baio, and I've just returned from a few months away at... mechanic's school.   Sherri B, I need you to play the dual role of Joanie and Mrs. C.  Who wants to be Tom Bosley in this one?  Oh my God, why is Tom Bosley suddenly such a huge part of my life????

OK, I really got it now!  It's Facts of Life.  OKChick, you're Blair.  Cami, you can be Tootie.  Renee, you're Mrs. Garrett.  Um, Actonbell, you can be Jo, always off in the corner playing Scrabble or.... working on cars.  Pia, you're Phoebe.  J. Adamthwaite, you're Rachel.  Xinh, you can be Monica.  And I'll be George Clooney-slash-Ross... and Joey.

Am I leaving anyone out?  Oh, Jocelyn!  Alright, new show -- 90210.  You're Brenda Walsh, because she was from Minnesota.  I'm Brandon because I always wanted to be Brandon.  Blondie you're Kelly Taylor, because blonde and California.  (I like how suddenly mid-post I need to have reasons to validate the character assignments.)  And Susan, you can be Donna, since I'm pretty sure you graduated.

OK, I think that's everyone who might possibly read my blog.  It's a good thing, too.  My only other ideas were T.J. Hooker or the Harlem Globetrotters Visit Gilligan's Island (starring me as The Professor and Meadowlark Lemon).

And if I left anyone out, well, at my age that was bound to happen.  Also please don't be offended by your assignments.  Remember there are no small roles, only small actors.  It's going to take a concerted effort to pull this off, people.

Speaking of concerts.... (Sorry, that was the best I could do.  If you have any better ideas for transitioning from Meadowlark Lemon to a concert, PM me and I'll do some post-production editing.)

2014 has been the year of the concert for me.  I've been to three so far (George Strait, Randy Rogers Band, Jason Isbell) and there have been about eight more that I really wanted to see but couldn't justify financially (Springsteen, Billy Joel, Rob Thomas, to name a few).

Now if only The Hold Steady would come within a 300-mile radius.

Saturday night, we saw Jason Isbell.  I figured that would make a good Music Monday post (though I must admit I never foresaw the four-thousand-word intro about sitcoms coming).

He turned out to be much better live than on CD.  And I liked him on CD.  You know what I mean by CD right?  It just seems so odd to say MP3.  Anyhow, here is some footage I did not shoot of a performance I was not at (but I do love the song)...

"The AC hasn't worked in twenty years /  Probably never made a single person cold / But I can't say the same for me / I've done it many times..."

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The '14 Comeback Special

I'm not sure I remember how to do this.

This must be how Elvis felt during the '68 comeback special.  Come to think of it, I have put on a few extra pounds.  Do me a favor, if e'er I should be honored with a postage stamp -- posthumously or humously(???) -- please vote for Young (skinny) Bone.

Actually, some people called me Elvis in 9th grade.  And by some people, I mean, my entire class.  It's a funny story, really.  And by funny story, I mean I still cringe whenever I think about that year.

It was 1988.  The "Elvis & Me" made-for-TV movie was coming out.  My hairstylist uncle had given me a haircut, which turned out to be more of a hairdo.  One which evidently resembled that of Graceland's most famous owner.  I also curled my lip when I smiled.  I'm not really sure why I did that.  Like if I'd always done it, or if the hairdo brought it out magically.  Either way, no one was happier to see 10th grade (and return to my usual 68-year-old barber) than me.

Anyhow, getting back to the gist of why I haven't blogged in nearly three months.  Here it is: I've been busy.

Oh sure, Bone, we're all busy.  (That was you talking. You follow?)

But you don't understand.  I have the time management skills (and possibly the attention span)  of a two-year-old.  I'd been so un-busy for so long that whatever modest time management skills I may have once possessed had long ago atrophied.

So when I picked back up the second job I had last summer doing web updates for a non-profit, in addition to the freelance writing gig I still have, my regular full-time job, and mowing, well, Bone as you knew him ceased to exist.

Golfing Bone.  Making-up-Fake-Onion-stories Bone.  Napping-more-frequently-than-a-Kindergartner Bone.  That Bone is dying.  God, I hate to see him go.  But he had a good run.

Well, OK, a run.

I was hoping to not do any lawns this year since I already had a second and third job.  But one of my clients from last year texted to see if I was going to mow again.  Not wanting to disappoint anyone (except girlfriends, I'm used to that) because everyone has to like me, I said I would.

Oh, also there was a little matter of fearing I was going to be evicted, followed by my own personal version of Property Virgins, making an offer on two houses literally hours after they'd sold, then pulling an offer on a third before everything finally worked out on house number 4.

So yeah, I finally lost my virginity.  I'm a homeowner.  Or, will be in 359 more easy monthly installments.

The year hasn't been without its share of tragedy, though.  First, I got a speeding ticket on the way to mow the yard I hoped I wouldn't have to mow for (allegedly) doing 45 in a 30mph zone.  I'm such a danger to society!  Sleep well, America, knowing that your hard-earned tax dollars are going to protect the streets from people driving 45mph.

And most devastatingly, I saw a 24-game Words With Friends winning streak come to an end.  Lost to an ex-girlfriend.  And not even the smart one.  This is why you shouldn't maintain contact with your exes.

But it hasn't all been disappointment.  I mean, we found out that Ted and Robin did wind up together in the end.  (Suck it, Barney!)  And I landed a side gig playing the Easter Bunny at a children's store.

Yes, that's an Easter Bunny selfie.  It's entirely possible my life has reached its pinnacle.

I suppose that's all for now.  I'm off to the Jungle Room.  OK, I don't really have a Jungle Room.  But we did paint the guest bathroom a color called "gentle pasture."  I spend quite a bit of time in there.

I like to think of it as my own little meditation garden.

"You can't drive through Talladega on a weekend in October / Head up north to Jacksonville / Cut around and over / Watch your speed in Boiling Springs / They ain't got a thing to do / They'll get you every time / Somebody take me home / Through those Alabama pines..."