Tag Archives: Running

Freewheelin’ It with Bob Dylan


When I run, I have a rock and roll playlist streaming on my iPhone. Today’s selection included “Highway Sixty One Revisited” by Bob Dylan. This piece was one of his first, after the famous folk singer went electric. The song includes this memorable scene:

Well, Mack the Finger said to Louie the King
‘I got forty red, white and blue shoe strings
And a thousand telephones that don’t ring.
Do you know where I can get rid of these things?’
And Louie the King said, ‘Let me think for a minute, son.’
And he said, ‘Yes, I think this could be easily done:
Just take everything down onto Highway Sixty One.'”

Another fun song he wrote around this same era is “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.” I recommend you check it out.

I don’t like Bob Dylan’s voice. He makes me shiver with nausea and indignation. Bob Dylan delivers his music with all the tunefulness of a steroid injected goat. Yet, despite his bleating, his lyrics are filled with vivid characters and imagery. They can be fun, especially if you don’t try not to listen to him and, instead, listen to it. Occasionally the images come a bit too fast and you just drown in his mental thrashing about. I’m thinking of the words from “Like a Rolling Stone”:

You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat.
Ain’t it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn’t where it’s at,
After he took from you everything he could steal.

Huh?

And of course I’m running with Bob. Yeah. This was a blog about running. At least, that’s where this whole thing began when I started writing this morning. I’m at the end of my second week of actual running. In the early part of the Couch to 5k plan, the online coach calls for you to run for two minutes, and walk for two minutes. I end up running for twelve, and walking for twelve. Then I have a five minute cooling off period. Since I walk around the lake in a big loop, I occasionally spot folks headed the other way. Sometimes I see them twice, which defies some kind of mental logic. How can I see the same old person twice and the same Irish setter twice, and they don’t want something either time? I guess I’ve been working in the service industry too long now.

And the two minute alternations? That’s where I’m at physically. I’m taking it easy, wanting to make a lifestyle of this, sort of like what I’m trying to do with writing. I realize I need to lose a bunch of weight, and working my butt off is the only way I know how to do it.

Oh–believe it or not, I’m still writing, although my schedule has been sketchy. I’m a morning person. I like to wake up, and get things done before my mind or body realize what kind of torture I’m putting them through. I’m not a horrendously evil guy, but on occasion my body thinks so. Still, I’m throwing 750 words, or sometimes just a paragraph or two, onto the computer every day, even if you don’t see anything.

Apparently I have old knees. They’re older than the rest of my body–with the possible exception of my ankles–by about fifteen years. The rest of me ages correctly, but my knees and ankles put up stiff resistance every time I try to move. I guess I could probably do low impact exercise like swimming, but this costs money, and requires squeezing my giant hairy body into swim trunks. Also, I need to face facts: I’m not quite there aerobically. Even my twenty four minute sprint walks tend to heighten my breathing until I’m sometimes not sure I’ll make it home.

Speaking of breathing, did I ever mention I use an inhaler for asthma? It’s not a bad condition like some people, but I do require an inhaler. It can be incredibly tedious to have your lung capacity diminish to the point of each wheeze sounding like Minnie Mouse.

As for diet? I just spent the last forty five minutes chopping up vegetables. I’m trying to make a serious attempt at eating more healthy food. This is going… Well, it could be going better. Most days I do well for breakfast and lunch, then when it gets to be dinnertime, I blow it horribly. For breakfast, banana, cherries and yogurt. For lunch, an assortment of veggies, and a dressing I made from yogurt and some variety of spices. I’m pretty much cutting carbs and fat out of my diet in the form of bread. I guess when it comes to it, I’m trying hard to eat things that improve potassium levels.  Avoiding cramps is a good thing. I ate dried apricots, but they had an awful lot of sugar. The other day I bought some prunes. They remind me of the cabin my grandparents owned in Wright’s Lake, way up in the Sierra Nevadas in California.  Great Grandma always had a big glass jar of dried prunes, and she’d dole them out slowly so we kids wouldn’t poop like seagulls. They were always a delicious snack that I’d really enjoy. Oh, and radishes too. I bought a bunch of radishes.  My Farmer grandparents always seemed to have radishes. They grew them in their huge backyard garden. I bought a few dozen of them today, washed them up and threw them in my veggie tray. I guess that’ll be my healthy dinner.

Then I chased a grumpy Alex away from the computer and began this blog. Nothing is earth-shattering today. I, ran, I shopped, I ate a little, I chopped vegetables, and now I’m writing. Work happens in an hour.

Oh, and Bob Dylan. He ties things together with his free-wheelin’ness. May your days be informed by his advice:

Look out kid!
Don’t matter what you did:
Walk on your tiptoes,
Don’t try “No-Doz”–
Better stay away from those–
That carry around a fire hose,
Keep a clean nose,
Watch the plain clothes.
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows.

Blessings and donuts to all of you.

FOFMG Goes For a Run


FOFMG stands for Fat Old Frappuccino Maker Guy, of course. And you read it correctly! I went for a run! Two in fact.

I can’t believe I missed yesterday’s writing. Oh well.  I was a time-waster, to be sure.  I should have found withing myself some extra umph, as it were. But I didn’t. I spent the whole day doing genealogy on Ancestry.com, and the whole night playing Minecraft on my cell phone.  That’s how lazy I was.

During this time, I was recovering from my run the day before.  Yep, you heard me right. I’m running again. Well, to be generous, it should be called a lope.  It doesn’t even warrant calling it a jog.  I was waiting until I could walk 3 miles before I bought my running shoes. That milestone came after 3 1/2 months of work. It took me all of springtime, plus another 20 days, to get from waddling to running. That’s how out of shape I was.  But finally, last Friday, I marched around the lake, and did part of another loop (I measured it out), and got to 3 miles without too much self-torture.

And so on Father’s Day, the last day of Spring, I went out and got my “running shoes.” I tried earlier in the week–I went to Modell’s Sporting Goods here in town, after doing a fair bit of research on the kind of shoes I need.  Funny–“running shoes for fat guys” doesn’t figure into Modell’s R&D budget.  What they have instead is called “shoes with stability tread.” They’re for two demographics–folks with weak ankles, and fat guys like me.  Modell’s didn’t have shoes for either of us.

The guy even told me so. He gave me a look, and ran his hand through his bristly black hair and said, “Ohhh, we only have shoes for regular people. Sorry.”  Want to try these?  He brought out two big orange boxes with a swoosh on the side, and one with… God only knows what the symbol is for Asics. It looks like a flattened pigeon head or something. My size? Thirteen. Neither shoe fit, which is weird because I’ve always worn a twelve on my left foot, and a thirteen on my right, because I was born that way. They were so tight, I couldn’t even get my feet all the way inside them, even with the laces pulled fairly loose.  I said “Wow. This is a first.  Have you got any size fourteens?”  He just gave me that look again, and ran his hand through his bristly black hair again, and said “Sorry. We only have shoes for regular people.” So I left. I was a bit grouchy because I thought I was regular people, just large.

Then I went to the specialty shop. It’s called “Potomac River Running.” They take cash in exchange for rich people shoes.  Some of these shoes are upward of $8-900. Built in GPS in them. Chips that talk to your smartphone (or smartWatch). Not even kidding. All that aside, I like that store. I didn’t want rich people shoes. I just wanted fat people shoes.  This was a different kind of shop than Modell’s.  It was lots of neon, and short-fitting ankle socks and fanny packs with built in water bottles.  It was crowded when I got there.  Probably 25 customers. But I asked the guy, after about 30 minutes of window shopping, “Got any fat people shoes?”  And they did! He just smiled as he brought out 4 boxes. All in size 14.  I settled on New Balance (860v6, in case there are any shoe geeks out there), because my old balance hasn’t been all that great for me. They’re blue and white, and black.  Nothing lime green or clown-nose orange about my new running shoes.  I walked out $120 poorer. I expected the hit. I’d been saving up my tips for the last 4 weeks.

A brief note on shopping.  Ever notice how, when you just want to look over merchandise, you can’t get a salesperson to leave you alone, but when you want to find a shopkeeper to assist you, they’re nowhere in the store? They’re sitting in the back, drinking coffee gloating about how they sold that last guy those fat people shoes, but he called them stability treads and made a bundle.

So on Monday, the first day of Summer, I took them for a spin. I took them for my second jaunt about 45 minutes ago. I’m following one of those couch-to-5K training plans where I do walk-run intervals, and gradually increase the number of miles until I can run 3.1 miles. I can walk that far.  The plan says, barring injury, I should be able to attain a 3.1 mile run in 8 weeks.  I think I can do this. I have my fancy shoes now and I’m ready

Sometimes, even even a Fat Old Frappuccino Maker Guy can do something right!

Kind of Like a Greek God


You might remember that about 4 years ago, I was running daily. I even ran a 10K. My Facebook post from that day (August 26, 2012): “I ran the South Lakes 10K today! My time? An incredible 1:35:12. I even got a police escort to the finish line, because they’ve never seen ANYONE finish a 10k as slow as I did. At least they didn’t make me pick up the orange cones along the route…”

Last place. Last one to cross the finish line before the cops closed the course. But damned if I didn’t finish the race. I felt like wing-footed Hermes, for just one day.

Then, stuff started happening. My library job at US Geological Survey had ended a few months before. I was unemployed for 9 months. My depression kicked in, and I just didn’t have the energy or the fight to run. I took a job in the restaurant industry. My schedule was all over the place. Some days I was up at 4 AM, and some, I didn’t have to work until 3PM.  It was tough to maintain a schedule.

I began to experience plantar fasciitis.  For those of you who haven’t experienced it before, well, it’s heel pain, brought on from too much “on-your-feet-all-day”. It was so extreme, I even had to take a day or two of work.

After a couple months of forcing myself not to run, I finally felt sufficiently recovered to start (slowly) running again.

I slipped on the ice and fell on my butt. Twisted my ankle. So I gave myself a week to recover. I slipped on the ice and did it *again*.

It seemed like The Gods of Run were against me so I gave up. I focused exclusively on my work. I gained weight.

Now, it’s three years later. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been in my life, and you know what?

SCREW the Gods of Run.

Apart from exercising my brain, which this blog tends to help sufficiently, I am also trying my best to make my body a bit more healthy. About a 7 days after I got the CPAP machine (That was early in April), I felt like I had enough energy to start walking again.

So I’ve been walking 6 weeks.  At first I wasn’t going very far, I doubt I was even walking a mile.  But I was outside, it was springtime, and I was walking.  Those were the most important bits.

I’ve forged a course around Lake Thoreau now (ok–it’s called the Red Trail and it was already there–but it was new to me. It’s a paved walking trail. Every once in awhile I see someone on a bicycle, but it’s not all that common. Usually just folks older than I am, or agressive runners. Once I saw an entire South Lakes High School PE class doing the same circle as me. It’s approximately 2 miles around the lake, from my front door, so 3 tours around the lake is a 10k.

I’m not quite at my old level yet. I’m taking it easy. If I’m hurting, or if I have to walk in the dark to get around the lake, I take a day off. If it’s raining or the weather is bad, I delay my walk. I alternate between leisurely days, and “fast” days, when I push my pace and try to sweat a little.  I hope that, before summer, I’ll be able to push my pace from a fast waddle to a slow lope.

My route takes me past the golf course, over a little bridge, right to the back entrance of the South Lakes High School, across the dam, past a shopping center, but the odd thing is it feels like I’m in the woods most of the way. It’s not uncommon to see a half dozen cardinals (the birds–not the church officials).

People are nicer on the trail. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the same as the Regency Era’s landed gentry taking a tour about their grounds. I always pass folks on the trail, and they smile and wave. Sometimes they exchange a cheerful greeting. Once an old lady with a cane and a bad dye job offered me information about exercise clothes that have built in pockets for smartphones.

But not built-in smarts for people with hands in their pockets.

Yesterday I took another nosedive. I dunno why. Weak ankles. Let’s blame weak ankles and Communism.

There was a large white Reston Association work truck in the middle of the trail. I’ve seen it before. The two guys, one clean shaven, and one with a beard, lean against the truck and guard their lawn tools and their big orange cooler full of Gatorade. Since the stupid truck was on the stupid path, I had to walk in the dirt. I tripped over a root, or an ankle-high fence, or a lawn gnome or something. Before I realized it, I was face-forward in the dirt. I’d twisted both my ankles and scratched up the palm of my right hand. I was approximately halfway through my walk, so I just continued the way I went.

Even though it was pretty obvious from my shout of “DAMMIT,” and the sound of 300 pounds of meat falling in the soil near the lake, the guys did not shirk their duty. No Gatorade was stolen. They didn’t even look my direction. People can be neato.

I was fine, although I’m still taking Tylenol to dull the ankle pain.

But this time, the Gods of Run aren’t going to spoil my time. I need to get healthy. With my writing I’ll get a sound mind, and with my exercise a sound body. Kind of like a Greek God, if that God were Dionysus. Or maybe I’ll be the Patron Saint of Falling Over A Lot. Only time will tell.

Hat Goeth Before a Fall


It’s a beautiful, cold, snow-covered day. The sun is bright and the sky is blue, making everything a blanket of blinding white.

The snow came two days ago, starting two or three hours after my post about there not being any snow. I’d guess we ended up seeing about six inches of the cold stuff before it was all finished. School was cancelled, work was cancelled; even Daniel’s college classes were cancelled yesterday. I spent the morning on a mission—making a stocking cap.

I knew the cold was coming, and the most uncomfortable parts of my recent runs have been, not my much-neglected legs, but my freaking ears. So the night before all the snow started, I waddled over to Michael’s and picked up some tweed woolen yarn. Fisherman’s wool, it said. I suppose they wanted me to knit a turtleneck sweater with it so I could look like Ernest Hemingway. Instead, I began crocheting a stocking cap.

The beginnings of my hat. about 20 minutes worth of work.
The beginnings of my hat. about 20 minutes worth of work.
It's taking a curve now, and starting to look like a yarmulke.
It’s taking a curve now, and starting to look like a yarmulke.
The finished product. Ready to run!
The finished product. Ready to run!

Well, after a couple false starts, it finally came together after about six hours of work.

I sat in the living room, staring out at the snow, anxious for the run in the cold. I’ve conquered you!

Well, I finished my hat, and it was 12 degrees, with a wind chill of -6. Awesome new cap on, and gloves, and a scarf, I made my way down the stairs to the Green Trail to being my run.

About 400 yards from our house, an Asian lady warned me “Careful, is very slip over there.” She wasn’t kidding. The trail was icy and covered with a slick of snowy crud. Well, I was walking at the time, during my five-minute warmup before the real run began, so I gave her a nod and kept on keeping on. I passed a man and his little girl sledding down a pathetic hill. It was cold enough that I bet they gave up soon after.

About one mile after the run, right past the covered bridge, I had my first slip. The trail there takes a sharp turn, and begins a slight descent. Well, my foot hit the ice, and I did one of those amazing stretches that makes your groin shriek in protest. My iPhone went skittering down the trail, and came to rest about six feet away, in a snowbank. It didn’t hurt much, other than my pride (I admit to taking a quick glance around me to see if anyone was watching the fat man fall). I also gave my knee a bit of a raspberry, but I wasn’t any the worse for wear.

I turned around and came back. I decided to push my pace toward the end of the run, and true to the lady’s word, I hit the Very-Slip-Over-There Spot and my ankle went out from under me. I jarred my shoulder on the fall, and twisted my ankle. This time the iPhone went even farther, again into a snowbank (there are lots of those). I limped home, my pride wounded, and this time also my ankle, which throbbed all night. I iced it up, and I have a four day break until my next run. I can walk on it, as long as I don’t take any sharp turns.

Stupid hat. Stocking caps make me trip. But hey, at least my ears were warm, right?

Fartin’ Around this Friday


Interesting quote: “Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt.” We have Dana Carvey and Mike Myers to thank for that one.

My high school English teacher, Jim Walker, told me never to begin an essay with a quote. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not writing an essay!

Continue reading Fartin’ Around this Friday

Beautiful Sight, Happy Tonight


My second run training of the year, I decided to brave the weather, and march to Lake Anne Village Center. The stairs from our condo down to the paved trail were quite slippery, covered in ice and snow. The day was clear and crisp. Within 50 yards, my legs were noticing the cold and were begging me to turn around and put on a second pair of pants. My slightly-too-small stocking cap that cleverly says HATE—the E is crossed out, folks, making it just a Hat! Pacifist yuks all around!—anyway, the hat kept slipping up my head and uncovering my ears. Each step was deliberate, icy, snowy, and kinda dangerous. Continue reading Beautiful Sight, Happy Tonight

Over the River and Through the Woods


Here I am at 3PM on my day off, all determined to squat and grunt and squeeze out a blog, whether or not the world wants a new one. And you’re very welcome for the sudden insight onto my brain, and its preadolescent gravitation toward poopoo humor. Continue reading Over the River and Through the Woods