Monday, July 30, 2007

The Three People in the World 

This is a neat time to be alive because the world can be easily divided into three parts:

1.) Those who don't give a damn about Harry Potter. I'm sorry. I imagine you either live in awful, 3rd-world conditions, or else concentrate really hard on the stock market.

2.) Those who own, but have not finished the last Harry Potter novel. You pathetic bastard -- come on! Get going! How long can you avoid the Internet?

3.) Those who have finished the final Harry Potter. What lucky SOBs we are! It's just like seeing the last Star Wars. Or finishing a novel. Or running a PR. What fun. Mostly because of the accomplishment -- of the knowing. But, come on -- admit it. It's a little fun having something over on all the # 2's of the world, isn't it?

Come on, # 2's -- we're waiting!


He showed up. He ran.

And the gods were appeased.

And I am -- admittedly -- a bastard for pulling back the curtain and reminding us all that sometimes, the passage of time is unmistakably, undeniably depressing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Call-Out 

I don't remember quite how the conversation started. That doesn't matter. What mattered is that it happened. I walked into the bar, my friends were eating hot beef sandwiches and drinking beer, and the Brewers game was on. Right there, standing over the table, is when he said it:

"I could still run a sub-5:00 mile."

I didn't even know I had it turned on, but my bullshit detector started ringing off the hook. "He" is a great friend of mine that I'll call "Beavis". Beavis is a couple years older than me -- 32, I think. He's a great guy. One of the very few people I could competently depend on. Good listener. Smart. Loyal as a pitbull. But none of that matters. What matters is he triggered my bullshit detector.

See, he may act like he's still 22, but he's just like the rest of us. A little roughened by age. Not much. Just some added character. He's filled out a bit. He's not overweight at all. But one notices -- like with all my friends -- the extra weight in the face and sides. 'Things have changed,' as Dylan put it. We're not running 75 miles a week anymore. We all have jobs and families. To top it off, our metabolisms have caught up to us. My point is this: no one in our position just up and pops off a sub-5-flat mile. Sure, back in the day, 5-flat wasn't far off our race pace for 8K, so running one at sub-5:00 wouldn't have been much effort. BACK IN THE DAY.

I'm not stating that someone has to run 75 miles a week and be entirely focused on running to fire off a sub-5:00. But one must work out. They have to be real workouts: planned, organized, and with purpose. A lack of workouts is why I ran a crappy marathon last year. Anyone can pile on base mileage and get into terrific fitness. Fitness doesn't make anyone fast.

So I sat there in the bar for a moment, considering his statement. And I just couldn't let it stand out there on its own. No one else said anything, so I said: "I have $20.00 that you can't go up to the track right now and run sub-5:00 mile." Our friend (let's call him 'Bird') said he had $200.00 on it.

It has been brought to my attention by the subject of this missive, that the below statement is not accurate. He is correct. The individual never stated he could beat me, and he is, in fact, not the type of person to make such a statement. I, however, recall the subject saying something to the effect of, "Are you gonna run too?" In short, I believe this was an attempt to morph the unproven claim into more of a duel. I understand the motivation to that, because I agree he would have an easier time besting me in the mile than he would running sub-5:00. Nevertheless, retraction noted.

Beavis responded, stating how he could outrun me in the mile. This was mere smoke and mirrors. Maybe he could, maybe he couldn't -- doesn't matter. I'll give him a freebie on that one. I stated this then, and I'll state it now, right here, nice and clear: Beavis can run a faster mile than I. There. Done.

Later that weekend, as I was running with two other friends Sunday morning, working off a hangover, it came to me again: 5-flat isn't kid stuff. I wish it were. I wish that that time which I used to so easily eclipse was still just a simple four laps around the track. It's certainly not improbable. But it's not anything to bandy about over beers and hot beef. Runners know this. We know that this casual statement of unproven triumph -- this is not acceptable.

During our collegiate careers, I beat Beavis a number of times, and he beat me a number of times. We had a mutual respect. Still do, I hope. But that respect does not grant him a free pass to toss out claims of what anyone "could" do. See, this is not about me and him. This is nothing at all personal. This is between the running gods and Beavis -- the gods, who only ask, "What have you done for me yesterday?" The gods, who only care about two indisputable things: a set distance and a clock.

So I will repeat my challenge here, as it was never taken up this past weekend.

Beavis, I will see you again this weekend at the wedding. And it will be a fun weekend. But I know the town of Menomonie, WI is home to at least two suitable outdoor tracks. And I challenge you, sir, to appear at one of these tracks with me for five minutes . . . or more. I will have the stopwatch, and you should bring your spikes. I believe you'll need them.

Again: we are good friends, so I hope you do not take this personally. But I cannot ignore stupidity when it so baldly calls attention to itself. You have a debt to pay with the gods of running. Either retract your statement . . . or lace 'em up. The gods are waiting. And they are not happy with you.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Lessons Learned: Mauthe Lake, WI, 7/1/07 

1.) When you rent a row boat, they give you a plug. For God's sake, put the plug in the boat before you put it in the water and fill it up with your son, dog, shoes and cooler full of food.

2.) When your wife notices a lot of water in the bottom of the boat, don't say, "Don't worry about it, it will go away." It won't.

3.) If the 90-pound dog is sniffing the water and places his paws up on the edge of the boat, grab his leash.

4.) When your dog jumps in the lake and the entire lake turns around to see him towing you back in to shore, there's no real way to play that cool. Just go with it.

5.) There's nothing like lunch in the middle of the lake with the fam.

6.) There are always ways around the "Pets not allowed beyond this point" signs.

7.) While deep in the woods with the dog, if you shoo the horse flies away from him, those persistent bastards come after you.

8.) As hard as it can be, try not to think of yourself as the happy medium between the Chicago money and the Wisconsin white trash. It may be true, but it doesn't really make it any better. Probably best to just ignore the money and the trash, and enjoy the clean sand and cool water.

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