Wednesday, May 24, 2006

#9, #9, #9, #9, #9, #9

How's this?

You've finally hit 9,
Oh Dear Little Maggie,
I've become so excited,
I'm sure I will gaggie.

But what happens when you're 80,
Oh Dear Little Maggie,
When your wrinkles are many,
And your rear starts to saggie?

It won't be so happy,
Oh Dear Little Maggie,
When the neighborhood kids,
Call you Little Old Haggie.

And then when you're 90,
Oh Dear Little Maggie,
Your legs start to fail,
And you can't play taggie.

You think it's tough now,
Oh Dear Little Maggie,
When there's chores to do,
And your parents start to naggie.

Just wait til 100,
Oh Dear Little Maggie,
Stops going waggie!!!

-- Crazy Pete
Team F*U*N Poet Lariat

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I, You, We All.... SCREAM!

Ahhh, the joys of summers past, present and future: dirty faces, skinned knees, muddy shoes, sun burned shoulders, and a few cherished ice cream "moments" like this. Is BD a happy lookin' dawg or what?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sluggo Makes a Go

It is one thing to undertake a life-goal -- we do it all the time with varying degrees of success and yes, failure. However, it is quite an entirely different matter when someone sets a life-goal then naively (or should I say ignorantly?) announces to the world how easy his/her life-goal will be to accomplish.

Ok, before I launch into my tirade, I admit a level of transgression. Yes, I’ve stated that I’d like to attempt a run at Badwater 130; and I’ve also indicated some desire to tackle Ultra Marathon Grand Slam. But I defend my pronouncements as respectful ambitions with guarded optimism about success and open reservations about ever getting to toe the start line, which sadly is yet to be seen. All of this leads me to Sluggo.

Sluggo is the vocal, very obnoxious (borderline offensive) co-worker who publicly announces his decision to undertake a life-goal challenge. In this case, he broadcasts (this is an ongoing effort) his intent to run a marathon. Hey, to his credit such goals are typically admired and even encouraged. Beyond the life-goal part, this guy could stand to loose a few pounds. So why not? Good for him. But what amazes me, and everyone else who knows (or perhaps doesn’t know) anything about running marathons, is Sluggo’s blatant disregard for reality and any iota of humility.

Why is this important? Well it probably isn’t to most people. In fact, most people have enough common sense to write-off Sluggo’s unbridled ambitions as more hot air from an all-too inflated self perception. Heck, he might as well profess his intent to successfully swim the English Channel in January, climb Mt. Everest next May or become the an Olympic gymnast for that matter. What’s to stop him?

In fact, I really shouldn’t doubt his conviction to run a marathon. After all, he did buy a book about it. Nor should I challenge his abilities to achieve some level of his ambitions. Quite frankly, he has a right to his convictions and ambitions, and some may argue that he has an equal right to share his intent with anyone and everyone within ear shot of his being.

But I confess a certain amount of skepticism about Sluggos noble cause given his seasoned girth from years of channel surfing, multiple repeats of twelve ounce curls, and a dietary regimen of pizza and fast food burgers. This does not bode well for his intended marathon debut.

I am torn between a certain amount of pity and embarrassment for the guy, and at the same time, I admit some feelings of horror.

How can a guy so brazenly claim expertise after reading (or maybe only glimpsing though) one book? Does Suggo think that 200 lbs of physique, a new pair of running shoes and an hour or two of casual weekly running translates into actual physical ability? What’s this guy thinking?

The accomplishments of thousand of runners aside, Sluggo’s braggadocios ness is an insult to all those runners who are currently training for their first marathons. I am particularly incensed when I think of a friend of mine (we’ll call him Alberto) who is training for his first marathon to be Chicago this fall.

Alberto is a family man who has been a casual and healthy runner for years; who after some deliberation and research has decided a marathon is something he wants to attempt. He, like most of us, battles through injuries and doubt. He runs through rain, pain sweat and blisters to build the base, experience and expertise in order to start and hopefully finish 26.2 miles in 4:00 hours or so (maybe faster). But we don’t hear about Alberto, he is humble and driven and will let his results speak for themselves. I don’t doubt that they will.

Instead we have to endure Sluggo who camps out on his lard seat and pontificates to everyone he knows about how easy it will be to run his first marathon in 3:00 hours or so. We get to listen to Sluggo indulge in ignorant grandeur about his yet-to-be-seen athletic prowess. And finally, we are privileged to be included in Sluggo’s arduous decision about whether he should run his first marathon in Boston or Honolulu?

Sluggo, is a piece of work. He unwittingly provides a level of entertainment to all of us who know better. And to those he insults, well, I suppose we’ll get over it. First he must start training; then and only then will we see if his lofty goals (and ego) will be tempered. And if by chance Sluggo ever makes to a marathon as a participant (not spectator), then I have but four words to impart as he the gun goes off… bon chance Les Poseur.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Like Shoes on a Wire

Truly some of the most interesting conversations I have are with other distance runners about various objects that catch and perhaps hold our attentions during miles and hours of otherwise uneventful training runs.
Some people become avid nature buffs, or sing songs in their heads, or count passing cars all in an effort to break up the monotony of the long run.

I know a guy who as taken up birdwatching as a direct result of his running curiosities. All it took was a little research and he soon became obsessed with the number and types of birds he sees on his various runs.

Another gentleman I know has a thing about dogs. He could describe with frightening detail every dog encounter he has ever had during his training runs. Now think about this for a second: I'm talking about a guy who has logged thousands of miles in more than two decades of running. To remember such detail speaks loudly about the boredom and strange obsessions that we, as runners must embrace to instill some vigor into a seemingly mundane activity.

My personal fascination stems from shoes (although, I must confess a creeping interest in butane lighters). On any given run, I may see one or more abandoned shoes by the side of the road. Each of these shoes tells a story, but trying to figure THAT story mystifies me.

Now I'm am not talking about pairs of shoes, which quite frankly is a rarity. I'm talking about that stray shoe on the side of the road, or in a ditch, or simply set alone on a bench. Where did it come from? Who wore it? Where is its mate? Didn't the owner know it was missing? How did it end up with this strange fate?

Some of these shoes are old, beaten down and could very well have fallen off a passing garbage truck. Other shoes have no laces. What happened to them? Did the owner break a lace and simply toss the shoe as worthless? Laces are less than a buck in the local grocery store, so what gives? I have also seen nearly new shoes where the only things missing are the price take and it's partner; a curiosity indeed.

I always get a little concerned when I see a lone child's shoe. Having lived next door for more than four years to one of the world's most worrisome mothers, I've become somewhat sensitive to seeing a solo size 3 that may have belonged to a lost, or worse, kidnapped child. But this fleeting thought is quickly tossed out-0f-mind by a childhood memory of leaving my shoes on the roof of a car, only to see it pull away. I rescued the first shoe that fell, but watched helplessly as it's right-footed counterpart disappeared over the horizon to parts unknown and a fate that must have ultimately turned the head of a passing runner. And here I was left behind with a useless left shoe without two left feet, and only one logical solution... in the garbage it went: A "life" unfulfilled and short lived.

So what about all those shoes? Where do they come from and where do they go?

Just yesterday I was reminiscing with a running friend about, of all things, running shoes. I was amazed at how acutely we remembered our transitions from Chuck Taylor high-tops to the Nike style-of-the-day. We both had similar tales of borrowing racing spikes during our junior high foray into track and field. And now, each of us have settled on shoes that keep us relatively uninjured as our bodies and biomechanics age, stiffen and more often than not, protest change of any sort let alone adjusting to a new brand of shoe.

Our conversation drifted to the many pairs of "retired" shoes we each currently own. We could of course relegate them to the cylindrical coffins in our respective garages to be hauled away without dignity to a local landfill. This however, would be a disservice to the "kicks" that have served us well over hill and dale, through rain, snow, sleet and mud. Mile after mile we became attached to each pair and shared long and often lonely hours together. This goes without saying that such disposal begs questions about the potential bio-hazardous waste situation this might create - whewie! Therefore a landfill really would be out of the question.

As solutions came and went, we were both struck by the romantic idea of tossing these shoes, attached as pairs into a strategically placed tree outside of a high school or local gym. This could start an entertaining fad that could amuse the students and perhaps inspire their random if not enthusiastic participation. Certainly, the errant shoes would entertain the juvenile spirits of passing adults, and at the same time add fodder to the already-cranky, up-tight, Humorless curmudgeons who would undoubtedly complain to one "official" or another. For a brief period of time, our shoes and any others that joined in the liberated branches would be hero's, icons and an inspiration to modern art which is a far cry from being orphaned at the side of the road. And it was on this note that our conversation jogged to it's thought provoking end.

Shortly thereafter, I went home for lunch and nearly drove off the road when I saw two pair of shoes hanging casually from a telephone wire only blocks from my house. Let me assure you, these shoes were not there when I drove into work. And (more importantly) let the minutes reflect, they are NOT my size.

Anyway, irony aside, this image confirmed the romance, liberation and spirit we discussed only minutes before. Here was a pair of shoes, undivorced and swinging carelessly in the breeze for the whole world to see, marvel at and maybe even envy just a bit. It was a beautiful sight and confirmation.

Yep, if I was a pair of shoes, this is exactly how I'd like to go; whimsically launched towards the heavens to perch majestically over traffic below; to laugh last and laugh best; to delight the runners; to entertain the anarchists; to confound the traditionalists; to tease those all-too-prudent conformists; and to memorialize the many orphaned shoes laying somewhere on the road up ahead.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Store's open and we're ready for business

When summer finally arrives (a few weeks, a couple of days, several hours and a minute or two - but who's counting?), this crew will be good to go. From left: Peanut, Chalupa, Big Dog and Belly Bean.

Weekly Mileage:
Run 10 miles

Bike 10 miles
Swim 1000 yds

(still on the DL, but soon to come off)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A brave friend

I have a very brave and couragous friend who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Trust me, this is a very nasty, nasty disease. This young lady's misadventure began in last winter and in February she missed an entire month of her (high school) sophomore year to partner with a team of physicians and battle this wretched monster out of her body.

We all know people who have overcome amazing challenges, but the maturity and fortitude it takes to live with, then tackle this disease is a whole new level of fortitude. I know several "ultra" athletes who think they are some kind of tough. Well let me tell you, the young lady I am writing about today has demonstrated a level of toughness that would make even the most seasoned ultra athelete blush. She is my hero.

Admittedly, I had never heard of this disease until now. However I am familiar with Chrone's disease, and as I've been told, Ulcerative Colitis (sometimes referred to as Inflammatory Bowel Disease - IBD) is a step away... and they are related.

When I found out about her plight (last night), I made it a point to research this illness and learn about IBD so I could at least understand what she has gone through. I can say now that
I understand and am humbled by her fighting spirit and maturity.

So in her honor, the Taylor Family has donated $50 to the Chrones and Colitis Foundation of America, and we ask our friends, family, and/or passers-by to take a moment and learn about this disease. A cure will start with awareness, and awareness is the least we can do to demonstrate our support of such a brave young lady.

Mel... please know there are many people like me who (even from a distance) unwittingly admire your courage and bravery. You are a hero and inspiration. keep on keepin' on. -a.t.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Neigborhood Bullies

Some of our friends wonder why we fled Menomonee Falls.

Exibit I - Consider this band of delinquents. As you can see, since we left, the neighborhood kids are just not the same. Don't let those girlish smiles decieve you, those she-beasts will beat the crap outta just about anyone who looks at 'em funny. Oh, and those pint-sized gentlemen, their "pipes" are registered with the FBI as lethal weapons.

Running = 0
Biking = 15
Swimming = 1000 yds.