“That’s another thing about being a certain age that I’ve noticed: I try as much as possible not to look in the mirror.” ~ Nora Ephron

I ran yesterday for the first time since the debacle that has become known as “The Chicago Collapse” during which I was nearly defeated by a shirtless centenarian.  I had a hard time mustering the courage to hit the pavement after my humiliation.  But, I’m running a half in Massachusetts next month.  I figured I’d better run a couple of miles between now and then, so I logged a 4-miler – just long enough to reflect on the important issues of the day.

For those unfortunate few who regularly received my email in my past life, you know about the Alien Reconnaissance  Drones (ARDs) disguised as deer that clutter the trails in Illinois, spying on our activities and reporting back to their advanced alien civilization in preparation for their coming invasion.  I know this because of their critical mistake – these “deer” don’t behave like real deer.  They simply hold their ground waiting and watching – watching and waiting . . . Real deer don’t behave like that and that is what gave them away as ARD’s.

In my current location, the ARD’s have been discovered and measures have been taken to counter the threat they present.  Witness:  Image

Measures. Have. Been. Taken.  We’re on to them here!  ARD’s are thicker than flies in a pig pen here, but the threat has been mitigated!  Unfortunately, here the aliens replaced ARD’s with ATD’s (Alien Turkey Drones).  Turkey-like creatures are on almost every corner and they behave like pigeons in Central Park.  The locals around here simply ignore them.  They don’t recognize the threat.  Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of this situation.  It’s a burden to be the only person who can see and understand what is happening around us.

Evidently men over a certain age simply don’t mind public nudity.  The evidence is beginning to suggest that more than simply not minding it, they RELISH it.  (You remember the shirtless centenarian with mad running skills).  On yesterday’s run I again encountered an unsettling display of “manhood.”

Image

This photograph really doesn’t reveal the true nature of the exhibition – a full frontal view would really better depict the reality of the display.  (I refrained from taking that photo out of respect for you, my audience.  Also, it would have been a bit awkward to take that picture . . . ).  There’s really no reasonable explanation for this man’s attire – or lack of it.  He’s definitely older than me – – – much older than me – – – so obviously he’s much more susceptible to heat stroke and other such maladies.  Still, it was only about 80 degrees yesterday afternoon.  The humidity was a little bit high, but certainly not tropical.  I managed just fine in my cheap ass Fort2Base “technical” shirt that I earned by paying the entry fee and gaining the opportunity to be disgraced by a man who’s old enough to be my grandfather (maybe even my great grandfather).  There are really only two explanations I can think of for this guy’s sartorial choices:  1)  he’s of an age where he simply forgot to put his shirt on; or, 2)  he’s a nudist.

Never fear!  My cardinal rule is intact.  My closet is full of shirts and I still retain sufficient grasp of my faculties such that I won’t forget to wear them.  I also have a mirror in my new abode and I’m in no way related to Tobias Funke, so I have some idea of what I look like sans clothes.  MY shirts not only protect me from the elements; they protect all of SOCIETY.   Wearing a shirt is my way of giving back to the community.  (You’re welcome.)  I won’t be one of those guys – at least not for awhile.

The training for the Cape Cod Half continues!  I’ll keep you updated.

TTFN, PR

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“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” ~ John Wooden

I don’t like running in the morning which is unfortunate because every race I’ve ever ran started in the morning.  I have learned over time that I CAN run in the morning, I just don’t WANT to.  I am a pathetic runner, but I am a gifted sleeper and I do some of my best sleeping in the morning.  But, about 10 years ago I could only find time to run in the morning.  I lived in Southern California, so running in the morning was made a bit easier by that.  One morning I got up about 5:00 AM and started my run.  It was a hot and muggy morning and for the first time, I removed my shirt and ran in nothing but my shorts.   I have a rule about that.  I never remove my shirt in public.  Never.  No Exceptions.  It’s my little gift to humanity.  But on that morning I was hot and feeling good about myself.  It was a quiet morning.  There was not a single other person in sight, so I figured what the heck?  I’m the only one who will know.  Shortly afterwards, a car drove by.  The driver had his arm hanging out the window and he slowed down to speak to me.  As I ran, he yelled, “Put your shirt on, Tubby!” or words to that effect.  My rule is now a cardinal principle in my life.  Never remove my shirt in public – EVER.  If you are bleeding to death in the street, I won’t use my shirt to fashion a tourniquet.  I’ll just figure something else out . . . or you will bleed to death.  It’s that simple.

So, it was with an almost perverse interest that I noticed a centenarian stretching – shirtless – preparing for the Fort2Base 10 Nautical Mile run.  (He was a centenarian – at least a hundred years old, not a Centurion – a Roman warrior – though he may also have been a Centurion at one point.  I don’t know).  At some distant point in this man’s life he could have gone shirtless.  Even at his current age, he was in great shape.  It was easy to see that he took care of himself.  Still (and I don’t want to be too graphic and certainly not disrespectful) he had folds of skin hanging from his back.  He wasn’t fat.  He was an old man and it showed.  Now, please don’t misunderstand.  I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.  I hope I’m in half as good of shape as he when I’m his age.  But, he should wear a shirt.  It wasn’t a hot morning.  There was no objective reason to be shirtless, but there he was.  I remember thinking, “Well, there’s an old man not wearing a shirt.  He looks like he’s in pretty good shape, though.  I should still be able to beat him – I wish he would put a shirt on, though.”

I lined up to begin the race with my companions.  I was joined by Attila, Tarzan and his wife, Jane.  Chipotle and Simba also ran that morning, but they ran the 5 Nautical Mile version,  The horn sounded and we took off.  We hung together for awhile, but by the second mile, Jane picked up the pace.  I never saw her again.  So, Attila and Tarzan ran with me when, at about the 5 mile marker, I saw him.  The shirtless centenarian was ahead of us!  What the hell?  I told my companions that this situation could not be tolerated.  I am a pathetic runner.  Seriously.  But, if I can’t run faster than a man who is twice my age, then I’m just going to quit running.  I think we picked up our pace a little, but not really too much.  Within about a mile we had closed the gap without too much trouble and finally overtook him.  He hung with us for awhile.  I could hear him behind us.  His breathing wasn’t necessarily labored, but it was loud.  I could almost feel his breath on my neck until after about another mile, we extended our lead to the point where I couldn’t hear him anymore and I turned my attention to the middle aged man wearing a soaking wet shirt and who also had an obvious affinity for beer . . . judging by his abdomen.  (Hey, give me a break.  I’m fat.  I’m not judging, just observing).  He was doing that Galloway run/walk thing.

It was at about this point that Tarzan decided to find Jane and he took off, leaving Attila and me in his wake.  I never saw him again.  Attila and I started reeling in the corpulent and drenched runner but it took awhile.  We gained on him while he walked and then he would take off sprinting.  Over time, it seemed that our little game of leap frog began to come out in our favor when all of a sudden I heard it.  Someone was breathing LOUDLY behind me.  So, I’m playing leap frog with the sweaty man while the centenarian is pushing me HARD, from behind.  At about mile 9, the centenarian passed us!  I told Attila that we could not lose to him.  We ran behind him plotting our strategy.   We had to pick up our pace to stay in striking distance, so we finally, and for good, disposed of our sweaty inebriate (whew!).

We passed the centenarian as we entered the base at about mile 10.   We had a mile and a half to go . . . a mile and a half to hold him off.  As we approached a downhill segment, I told Attila that we needed to use gravity to our advantage and pad our lead.  We took off down the hill.  By the time we reached the bottom everything caught up with me.  My inadequate training and pushing myself too early in the race all added up and I was running out of gas.  I turned Attila loose – I told her to go ahead and not let me drag her down.

I was feeling pretty bad when I arrived at the foot of “suicide hill.”  For the uninitiated, this is a long and steep grade that deceptively seems to level for awhile, but it’s really still climbing.  I was already in trouble and I knew it.  I started up the hill.  I had to stop to walk for a bit before I was even a quarter the way up.  It gave me a chance to look back.  He was still there.  I knew that I had to run or he was going to take me on the hill.  I started to run.  My right foot was on fire and my left foot was numb – I literally couldn’t feel it hit the ground, but still, I ran on.  I crested the hill and began a gentle downgrade.  I was so spent that I had to walk for a few feet going DOWN!  Yikes!  I started running again and limped through the last three quarters of a mile, finishing ahead of both the centenarian and the sweaty brewer.  But, it was an UGLY win.  I finished a full minute ahead of the centenarian, but I didn’t feel the normal sense of accomplishment that I experience after a race.  I felt nauseated.

I guess the old dude can run shirtless if he wants to.  I won’t, but no one is going to give this guy any crap for running without a shirt.  He can bring it.  Me . . . I’m pathetic.  I nearly had to quit running because a hundred year old man almost beat me in an 11.5 mile run.  Pathetic.

Next up is the Cape Cod Half Marathon in October with Attila and Bonner (whose new running moniker will be unveiled in my next transmission).  I’ll check in with you all from time to time to let you know how the training is going.

Until next time, PR

P.S.  My posts won’t usually be this long, but this race was an epic story . . . like the Iliad or the Odyssey.  You know, like that.