Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Life in Sneakers: 1979-1999

My first recollections of being steered by a brand. The only magazines I read in high school were Mad, Playboy, and Skateboarder. Mad didn't have any advertising; I couldn't afford anything Playboy advertised, and who cared anyway; I only looked at the girls. All the good stuff was in Skateboarder.
I bought Sims Snake wheels strictly because of the logo (a snake in the shape of an 'S' - very amateur)

... and because they were green. I put them on Independent trucks because of the Iron Cross logo (long before West Coast Choppers). I got Vans, Chuck's, even Nike hi-top basketball shoes, if that's what the dude in the ad wore. They didn’t make me a better skater, but I looked like a better skater.

When I first started running, I was in art school. I didn't have a proper pair of running shoes, so I ran in what I had ... White Chuck Hi-Tops. Three or so miles a day, on the sidewalk, eventually caused the right heel to separate. The brown rubber sole and a couple layers of padding came cleanly away from the rubber strip that encircled the bottom of the shoe. The pounding also managed to cause a stress fracture in my left leg ... very near a weak area in my tibia (?) where I had broken my ankle 4 years earlier.

I gave up running for the winter and resumed that spring with "proper" running shoes. I bought them at the local sporting goods store. White lo-budget adidas. I had been wearing adidas soccer cleats for years. Soccer was a thing of the past now, but I wanted to carry "my brand" with me into my next phase of athletic endeavor.

I returned to running with a new enthusiasm. I bought the magazines. I realized that my beginners shoes were not in any of the ads. Let me rephrase that ... they weren't in any GOOD ads. The ads they had for my adidas sucked!!! I could have doen better in school. I DID do better in school. In my mind, to justify myself as a runner, I had to get a pair of shoes that someone thought were good enough to do good advertising for.

I then turned to mail order for my new running shoes. Granted the ad was still cheesy, but I was saving $5. The Etonics lasted me a year, they were good and got me across the finish line in my first few races.


What more do you need to say??? Apple. LA Olympics. Nike.

Nike finally came through with the edgy, disrespectful ads that harkened back to my rebellious skateboarder roots. “Revolution” with John McEnroe. “Just Do It.” Bo Jackson. I was hooked. I was a Nike man.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

How to Count from A to Z

I have a 12 lap per mile track at Bally's ... Great thing: want to know your pace??? ... take your lap time and divide by five e.g., 40 sec lap = 8:00 mile, 35 sec lap = 7:00 mile, etc.

"Don't you lose count???"

Well, yeah. You can counter that two ways

1. Figure that you lap times are always accurate and consistent and however far you think you've run, IS how far you've run

2. Pick up a method I've "stolen" from Slowtwitch.com (keep in mind the author's doing swim workouts):

"Try letters," he said. "See, A-T. Use letters of the alphabet. That’s what I tell the kids to do. Letters don’t repeat themselves like numbers do."

Aha! That makes perfect sense! I almost wanted to swim another long set to test it out there and then.

OK, not really.

But my opportunity came soon enough. One Friday the workout called for a 1x1500. That’s three times through of A-T. Are you with me? So I say, OK, I’ll try it.

Remember, I deal with words for a living. Letters should be easy. I can’t begin to tell you how wrong I was.

I start the 1500 and the internal (infernal?) dialogue begins: "OK, A." Somehow that's not enough to keep my attention. So the mind wanders: "Let's try animal names. OK, anteater. Aardvark." This amuses me as I head into my flip turn. "B. Bear. Beaver." Flip again. "C. Cow. Coyote." This is fun. I work my way through the letters, then begin to founder when I get to the middle, somewhere around the Ks. "K. Hm....OK, koala." Flip again. "M...monkey." All well and good, but I realize I have no idea which lap is odd, and which is even within the alphabet. I think I've missed the letter L and now I've got to try to reconstruct in my chlorine-addled brain what number might correspond with the letter L. (For lion, by the way. Which makes me think of former San Francisco Giant Andres Gallaraga, the Big Cat. See how this works? It's a slippery slope, I tell you!)

Somehow I finish that 500 when I'm supposed to.

Clearly, I'm better off with numbers. But I'm keen to try to think in a new way, and I still have another couple of 500s to play with. So I forge ahead, still trying the animal names. I successfully navigate the ABCs and work my way into the murky middle again. "I...ibex. Whew, just in time, have to flip again." Flip. "J...OK, jaguar. Shaguar. Austin Powers. Groovy baby, yeah!" Soon my brain is running amok and I'm flipping without thinking what letter is next. What comes after J? Oh, right. K. Koala. Got that one. Now, L. For some reason, lion is gone from my subconscious and out pops...lemur. Followed by M...monkey. Then I ponder species and sub-species. Was it "fair" for me to choose monkey after I'd chosen lemur? Shouldn't I have chosen another subspecies? Isn't a lemur a kind of monkey? No? A primate? Suddenly I'm lost again. I am completely at sea, no idea where I am in the 500. S? Could it be time for S already? Nearly! We're just passing R. How I was able to figure it, I don't know, but it's upon me already.

R for...what? Reindeer? OK, reindeer. Now I can see the finish, the T is coming and I'm so ready to get to the end of this stupid mental exercise. It's only shown me that my brain is a scary place when left to its own devices, and that I'm the sort of person who apparently can't remember the alphabet. Thirty-six years old and I'm failing at a common schoolroom exercise.

S. S for...for...oh well, no matter, here comes the flip for T. Hooray! Now, T for...T for...T for...Titus Andronicus!

What the hell? What happened to T for tiger?

I haven't even read that play, and good God, another 500 is upon me. No time to worry about the kind of mind that would dredge up, and then spit out, the name of one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays in the middle of a swim set.

I'll spare you my attempt at working through the alphabet by the names of common household fruit because I got hung up at D and that was the end of that. (Don't talk to me about dulse...not a fruit. Don't mention damson plum, either. I couldn't get that far.)

You would be right to think that surely, by now, I have learned my lesson. You can't steer a loose brain, and mine apparently springs free when left to ponder the alphabet in a pool.

Personally, I use ex-girlfriend's names (with a couple of cheats). Example: Amy, Becky, Cindy, Debbie, Elaine, Fran, Grace, Heather, I-leen, Joannie, Kat, Lori, Megan, Nancy, "Oh, her", Patti, ???, Robin, Sarah, Tracy, Ursla (from Finland!!!), Vicki/Valerie, Wendy, Yvonne ... I only need 24 to get through two miles, so I skip X and Z. Sure, some letters have more than one candidate.

Of course, there's a story behind each one. Sometimes I smile to myself, while clicking off a lap or two. I'm sure the girls think I'm smiling at them.

If they only knew.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Baseline it for me, boy.

I got a physical last night. Primarily, it was for the adoption, but I also wanted to get a sense of how badly my physical condiditoning had slipped.

Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I thought, except for one "metric"

I didn't need to get undressed (which was a shame becuase the doctor was a total cutie).

Due to the fact I was wearing big shoes, I am now 5' 6½" ... I've been wating for YEARS to add that ½"

Blood Presure: 117/78 slightly low, but good.

Eyes: Good - even though I had my lenses in, they were totally filty, and I had to blink a few times to focus on the chart.

Hearing: Good - I would have liked to know exactly what frequency the constant ringing I hear is and at how many dB.

Heart / Lungs: Good - I'm surprised Dr. Kathleen Cutie didn't notice a bit of heavy breathing on my part; or could we BOTH feel it???

Sadly she did not examine "below." Probably for the better.

As far as cholesterol and such, I'll be getting blood done this week, sometime.

Oh, I left something out ...

Weight: um, yeah ... um ... One hundred sixty one pounds ... 161.

I'm up TEN pounds over last year. Shit!!! I'm up ten pounds since ... SEPTEMBER!!! Granted, since I was dressed, some of that it "wearable" weight, but not much. Maybe three pounds??? 158 is still a daunting number. I haven't weighed nearly this much (and, had so little to show for it) since ... well, since I STARTED running. Christ, it's WHY I started running.

Technically speaking, that would push my 400 beers to 800 beers!!! (20 pounds off would bring me back to racing shape). I don't think I can plan on doing that. Some of those beers may come off as a course of training, but I'm not moving the bar up. I'd rather set it low, succeed, and move it up higher (lower???), than move it way up and fail.

400 Beers it is, and 400 Beers it shall stay.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another Year ... Let's Get Going

I started my running for 2006 earlier than I have in any year I can remember: 1PM January 2nd.

I don't believe that I've ever gone out on the road before the second week in January. Plus, I stay out of the gym for the first 6 weeks of the year, just because. I call them "Resolutionaries" and they''l be gone right after Valentine's Day. "I don't care how fat you are, I still love you ... for me??? Oh, it's gorgeous!!!"

I was able to park in the B Lot; the locker room wasn't too crowded; the weights, machines and track were sparsely populated. Had I remembered where my goggles were, I might have even gotten a lane to myself. I couldn't tell if the folks I didn't recognize were new, or just usually go at mid-day. There were a lot of pages for "any available trainer" to come to the front desk ... these may have been newbies receiving their mandatory walk-through and up-sell.

From the track, I looked down into the weight room and saw this guy with a black T-shirt with a Mexican flag on the back. A short time later I walked past him on my way to the locker room.

Upon closer inspection, it was an ITALIAN flag with some medallion in the middle of it (apparently Tony Soprano's Pizza had given themselves some sort of an award - they couldn't have WON it because their pizza actually sucks).

I said to the paisan "You know from a distance that looks like a Mexican flag on your back."
Luigi pumped himself up to twice his usual size. "Well, if someone would read it they would know it's Italian."

I wanted to say "You know, if you didn't so much look like Eddie Guererro, I wouldn't have gotten confused." but I didn't want to get my ass kicked so I just said, "Not many people around here can read, plus your t-shirt guy f'ed up a perfectly good flag."

Little does Guido know, that eventually there will be more Mexicans in South Jersey than Italians ... thank goodness.

Last year's "Beer" thread has been safely and securely locked away in a remote depository beneath the Appalachian Mountains ... okay, it's really on a Flash drive in my backback, but as long as no one tells, I'm in good shape.

I have a lofty goal of compiling the three previous "Beer" threads into one volume by the end of this year, along with whatever we come up with in the next twelve months. It's hard going ... each page of CR translates to about 5 pages of MS Word (Arial, 10 pt, 6 pts. before and after each paragraph). I'm getting 2 or 3 done a day. With 2003 coming in at 114 pages, 2004 a mere 9, and 2005 a nice 52 ... I should be done by Spring.

Just in time for Broad Street.