Saturday, February 26, 2011

Patty doesn't want to hear about it

I know, I know. it's been way too long. It's been almost a montha month!since I last contributed anything to this blog.

(Note to self: Add "Update blog" to Post-it® To-Do list above desk.)

I'm feeling kind of cranky tonight, though, so I think I'm going to vent instead of amusing and edifying you. I'm rapidly compiling a long list of people and places and things that I'm really sick of hearing about, and I'm going to share it with you here. Please understand that I'm not making judgments as to the relative value or importance or newsworthiness of these people, places and thingsthat's not the point here. They've just worn out their welcome and I want them to go away.

In no particular order, my list includes:
  • Airport security and those full-body scanners everyone's getting so worked up about 
  • Moammar Qaddafi and the unrest in Libya
  • Scott Walker and the unrest in Wisconsin
  • Obesity in America
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Julian Assange
  • Spring training
  • Charlie Sheen
  • The Tea Party
  • The economy
  • The weather
  • Sarah Palin
  • The Oscars
  • Lady Gaga
  • Gas prices
  • Texting
  • Taxes 
Thanks. I feel better now that I've got that out of my system.

Got anything you'd like to add?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jef finds fun running, running on fumes in Florida

My coaches over the years have had plenty of chances to remind me that training dumb is better than racing dumb, but what's left unspoken is that it can’t hurt to try and do neither one dumb. It’s something for me to shoot for.

I’m apparently not there yet.

Last weekend Patty and I took a very welcome trip to visit some friends in Hollywood, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. Among (many) other things, I was delighted to be able to run in shorts and a tank top, with actual traction. And I did run. I had two leisurely 6-milers to do on either side of a much-anticipated 18-miler. I couldn’t wait, but I’d have been wise to slow things down a bit – and I don’t mean in the early parts of the run.

No, I behaved myself just fine that way. I warmed up the first mile – 8:15 – and then settled into my 7:50/mi pace and carried on as planned: Hold temptation at bay early, hold fatigue at bay late. But it didn’t work that way. I never really fatigued in the classic sense, but I started slowing after 14 miles with the all-too-familiar sensation of the fuel-gauge needle veering suddenly and determinedly toward E. It’s an awful feeling, not least because it doesn’t feel awful enough. Heart rate: steady. Legs: Fresh enough, but just not moving. It’s very frustrating.

And it wasn’t supposed to be happening. I’d been carrying a belt full of bottles and emptying them on schedule. I wasn’t drinking my usual stuff, true. I left that at home, figuring I’d rather find a running or cycling shop in Florida than have a heart-to-heart discussion with TSA at the airport about the unlabeled powder in my luggage. But there were no such shops terribly close to our friends’ house, and they had a garage refrigerator full of Gatorade. No problem. I’ve run on Gatorade plenty of times. The grocery-store stuff is a little sugary, but if you cut it 50/50 with water, it works well enough.

Except when it doesn’t. Then you finish your run ticking off mid- to upper 8-minute miles and are even grateful when you get stopped by an open drawbridge.

Back at the ranch, I did what I should have taken time to do before the run. I dug the bottles out of the recycling bin and took a closer look at the labels.

Who knew they made a low-calorie Gatorade?

An update:
Huge, HUGE thanks to the readers who have pledged donations to Patty’s and my rappel-down-the-tall-building dope-on-a-rope effort. You have no idea how good that makes us feel. Hopefully you’ll have a better idea soon, when I hand-draw you the thank-you notes that are on my to-do list (behind getting the Frazz strips out on time and maybe juuuuuuust a few items after finally getting a blog entry out there). You guys really are the best.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jef experiences that '70s week

I liked football once. Starting at Christmas, the year I was 9. That was when my grandfather bought me a set of little plastic NFL helmets with a sheet of stickers so I could match up the graphics and the colors and make my own official helmets, or at least official in a league where the players were Lilliputian and the graphics were crooked and half the facemasks only stayed attached to the helmet on one side.

You have to pick a favorite team when you've got a set like that - it's in the boy code - and I struggled to choose between the New Orleans Saints (I liked their colors) and the Green Bay Packers (I liked the sound of their name). I couldn't have told you anything else about either team. Or, really, about football. But since I had two favorite teams, I figured I should try to find a game on TV.

I found a suitable one just about a year later (There was no NFL Network, nor cable, nor, in my house, more than one channel at all). The Pittsburgh Steelers were playing somebody somewhere, and by the time I found the game it was apparently pretty close. Pittsburgh had the ball, their quarterback threw it to one of his guys and the guy got nailed and the ball bounced out of his hands for an incompl … no, now some other Steelers guy scooped it up just before it hit the ground and ran it in for a touchdown. I made a point to remember his name - though remembering it as Frank O'Harris didn't help much - and settled not only on a favorite football team, but a whole favorite sport.

Just my luck to stumble across the Immaculate Reception, the most exciting play in the history of the National Football League. It was downhill from there. By the time I was playing JV ball in high school, football seemed to be more for the spectators than for the players, and the coaches made it clear that for us players it was anything but play.

Now the Steelers and the Packers are playing in the Super Bowl. The 1970s are back, though my love for football doesn't seem to be. Also back from the '70s is "The Mechanic," a remake of a movie about a professional hit man. I loved that movie. Jason Statham is playing the Charles Bronson role and somebody else is playing the other guy's role (which I guess is significant). That I might watch. I don't know if it will live up to the original. These things often don't.

And now we've just survived what was supposed to be the biggest snowstorm since the Blizzard of '78. Snowpocalypse, they were calling it. Or Snowmageddon, or snOwMG. In this area, anyway, we got buried by more breathless titles that we did by snow.

It's odd enough that so much '70s history decided to return in the span of a week. The fact that the '70s themselves came out looking better? That I never could have predicted.

Farm out, man.