Monday, May 30, 2016

It's a lonely road I run.

Are there any other men of precisely my age who have a deep, psychological, sexual/emotional connection to Animalympics?

I cannot remember exactly when this first aired on HBO. Wikipedia states it wasn't until 1984, but that cannot be correct, because I recorded the entire movie onto audio cassette (remember that, kids?) something I did for a few, select movies and only during late 1980 or early 1981.

Animalympics was seventh grade to me. Approaching thirteen. That makes all the sense in the world.

Originally created to be a series of animated vignettes to be played ruing the 1980 Olympics, only the winter sports scenes were broadcast on NBC because the summer games in Moscow were boycotted by the United States.

Cobbled together, it may not be the finest animated film ever made (and there one major, cringe-worthy Asian stereotype) but it is surprisingly successful at capturing the emotional arc of two whole weeks of Olympic competition, with a variety of interesting characters who come and go.
Before I even knew what a marathon was, my first sexual desire was for a shapely, African, Ultra-Marathon runner. A woman who could run 3,500 km – a fourteen-day course. She was an Egyptian Queen, with green cats-eyes, and sleek, short blonde hair covering her entire body. And she had a tail.
- from And Then You Die (How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years)
The one storyline which carries through the entire program is the marathon. Two characters, a lion and a goat, keep pace with each other from the very start, and running in tandem, without saying anything to each other proves to induce a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, in which their professional antagonism mutates into obsession then helpless affection.

This can also describe how relationships in middle school function.

This video is everything.

The soundtrack had one run and has since been out of print. Why? You'd think Rhino or some other Gen X nostalgia factory would be all over this. Like the film itself, you can only find it on YouTube, posted by dedicated fans. I had to cobble together an album on my own using an online mp3 converter and it doesn't sound great.

Composed by 10cc frontman Graham Gouldman, the soundtrack is loaded with catchy earworms that make delightful athletic metaphors sound romantic and not at all dopey. Well, maybe a little dopey.
With you I can run forever
With you I can run forever, mm-hmm
'Cause you gotta be my inspiration
Side by side through every nation, mm-hmm

We ride the world just like a rollercoaster
As we take each road and we take each turn, you bowl me over
'Cause you gotta be my inspiration
Together we can run forever, mm-hmm
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Distance: 4 miles
Route: Cain Park Loop
Temperature: 72°
Climate: hot and bright
Weight: 166 lbs.
Mood: good

Today is my parents' wedding anniversary. My brother is in town from St. Paul, we're having dinner with Mom tonight. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.

Animalympics - Graham Gouldman (1980)
Go For It
Underwater Fantasy
Away From It All
Born To Lose
Kit Mambo
Love's Not For Me
With You I Can Run Forever
We've Made It To The Top

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Skill with the quill.

Goose quill.
New label: Albums For Running. Sometimes my playlist is all or part of an album, and I comment on that. Why this album. So I wanted to make these not-reviews easier to find. Not sure I've tagged them all yet.

No seriously, waking up with a headache on a weekend is so totally not fair. This morning I got up earlier than I might have, because I knew any further rest was pointless. Headed onto the deck with a notepad and the Times. Writing made my head hurt, reading was a distraction.

Sitting on the deck, writing, or trying to write. Like in the winter, heading downstairs to sit in front of the fire. New fireplace, new deck. We have created sites for living, and we use them. The house I bought kept getting smaller, and now we're making it bigger. It's like a new world of home ownership.

Boy Bike/Run
Distance: 3.6 miles
Route: Forest Hill Loop
Temperature: 77°
Climate: overcast & hot
Weight: 164 lbs.
Mood: uncertain

First boy bike/run of the season. He asks which I prefer, running to music or running with him. I didn't immediately say, "oh, running with you, son," because I thought that would sound disingenuous. I told him the differences, but emphasized how I like to have him to talk to and how much fun it is to be with someone and observe things.

So, yeah. I made it clear I'd rather run with him.

Though we had made long runs together went I was training last fall, this is the first time we went into Forest Hills together, and I was able to show him all the things I get to see when I run there. The goslings are now in their "late-teens," still golden and smaller than adults, but with those long, goofy necks.

How do you feel, I ask. "I feel good," he says. "We should do this more."

We will. I promise we will.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

There's a part of me hoping it's true.

National Junior Honor Society
End of year means celebration.
Staying up late in our tiny TV room to watch not only the Cavs but also the Western Conference Finals  has become a thing and as a result we are all exhausted, exhilarated, and talking a lot about basketball. Primarily, however, we are all exhausted.

Now that summer weather has settled in, deciding when to run and how will be a thing. The Cavs took the Eastern Conference last night, and it was a nail-biter (well, they said it was a nail-biter, we were actually in the lead the entire game) and so we got to bed by midnight and rose at a relaxing eight in the morning. So the sun is out, and it is hot already. If I run now, I may exhaust myself for the day.

But who cares, right? Gotta run.

Distance: 3 miles
Route: Forest Hill Loop

I ache. Started in my chest (chest pains? no.) and then my neck seized up, and it ran through my shoulders. It's kind of a drag.

Hot weather, suddenly the part of my brain which dictates music wants modern disco. What does that signify?

Temperature: 79°
Climate: hot!
Weight: 164.5 lbs.
Mood: positive

Over and Over Playlist
Over and Over - Hot Chip
Past In Present * - Feist
In the Morning - Junior Boys
Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem

In The Morning will always remind me of my last solo weekend in Chicago. Good lord, that was almost nine years ago. Ran the Lakeshore Trail, it's a beautiful urban run. Would that we had something like that, a long trail in the heart of the city. I mean, we do, but it's right next to the highway, there's no beach-like buffer between the lake and the city.

The song also makes me feel positive, forward-thinking. Something was about to happen at that time, was happening, is still happening. It is a slow revolution, but it continues to move within me.

The Lovecats * - The Cure

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I was running. You were walking.

Mr. Applegate & Joe
Damn Yankees - Bay High School, 1985.
I am smoking a lit cigarette on stage.
Went out for drinks with an old friend last night, someone I hadn't really spoken to in about thirty years or so. It was good to see Rob, if you looked at him you'd say he is a middle-aged lawyer with gray hair, and you'd be right. He has gentle eyes and a kind voice. A good guy. That's also the way I have always thought of him, and I was comforted by the fact that we share so many thoughts about things, especially considering how many ways I think differently from when I was in high school. Sometimes I am afraid to earn what the people I used to know now believe.

We're both Bay Village expatriates, each of us chose Cleveland Heights after college and feel so much more at home here. Our children were raised here, they will tell their children they are from here. It is quite a different world.

We ran into each other at a street fair years ago and said we'd catch up, but it took years. Facebook helped, he proposed a meeting and I said yes, and it finally happened. First the Wine Spot, then we moved to Brennan's. Heights!

Facebook cuts down on small talk. How many people do we know from high school, from college, from other jobs, who we used to date or were even once married to, who we may acknowledge or interact with only briefly, over years ... and yet, they know how old our children are, if we have been through a major illness, where we are and where we have been?

I didn't need to tell Rob my father had died, he knew already. (Strange, I keep finding myself surprised by people who I see every day who I surprise with the news, and only because they don't use Facebook.) We were talking about my half marathon, and the terrible weather, and how I have become this runner guy, and how impressed he was by my dad because he didn't look like a runner, and yet he was always heading out to run.

Rob said, "He'd run at night," meaning my dad, and that surprised me, so much, because I'd never thought about it. I mean, I couldn't picture him going out to run. Certainly not at night. If you asked, I couldn't tell you when he would take his runs. Only makes sense, he left for work before dawn, and came home in time for dinner. But honestly, I never thought about it.

But Rob could picture it. He described my home as a cool place to be, we'd hang out, my parents were nice to talk to, we'd watch TV all hours, it was great. And Dad would take off, maybe ten o'clock at night to go running. Sometimes I do that, too.

Distance: 3 miles
Route: Forest Hill Loop

We're in it for the duration now, the summer weather. Stepping onto Euclid Avenue last evening, people in the streets in shirt sleeves, so many people. The city is alive again.

Temperature: 70°
Climate: hot!
Weight: 163 lbs.
Mood: good

Spring 2016 Playlist
Send My Love (To Your New Lover) * - Adele
Wedding  - Poliça
Angels * - Chance the Rapper ft. Saba
Go! - M83 ft. Mai Lan
Born Again Teen * - Lucius
Breathe Life - Jack Garratt

Yes, Adele's new single could be performed by Taylor Swift. I don't care, I don't care!

Voices In My Head * - Bob Mould

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hi there!

Sledgehammer was released a little over thirty years ago, on April 25, 1986. In a year that was recently - scientifically - determined to be the worst in popular music history, I was astonished and thrilled by this song. Awesome horns, excitingly syncopated guitars, a funky, funky bassline, that slippery percussion, and lyrics that playfully extend absurd and absurdly obvious metaphors for fucking.

My interest in his work had started with his last complete album of original work, Security, and in the intervening years (1982-86, my entire high school career, actually) I has absorbed pretty much everything he had ever recorded, on his own and with Genesis, including their justifiably difficult to find first album, From Genesis To Revelation, which is really, really, really bad.

But I bought it.

And that was kind of the point. While I enjoyed delving into early 70s prog rock, and had piecemeal discovered that a great many tunes from my preadolescence for which I had a deep, subliminal affection (Solsbury Hill, for example, or Follow You, Follow Me) came from the same interconnected ensemble of artists, by my senior year in high school they were all a bit passé, weren't they? And you couldn't dance to them, and that was extremely important.

Listening to Sledgehammer for the first time, driving in my car (well, Mom's car) cruising down the highway from visiting my new girlfriend downtown, I was first struck by the fierceness of the attack, and immediately recognized the vocals, and that was so exciting.

A new Peter Gabriel album! A new girlfriend! These two events are intricately connected.

Distance: 5 miles
Duration: 40 minutes (or so)
Route: Boulevard-Noble Loop

The album So was released on May 19, 1986.

I have always found it gratingly ironic that an artist who had championed the end to apartheid long before most of his contemporaries lost out on the Grammy for Best Album for this record to a man who exploited the effort and talents of numerous black South African musicians to create Graceland.

So alternates, track by track between funky and upbeat - Sledgehammer, Big Time - and dour and downbeat - Don't Give Up, Mercy Street ... which I have chosen not to include in my running playlist, not because I don't like them but because I came to run, not brood.

Visceral and ethereal. He loves doing that, sliding back and forth, striving to represent his idea of godless, earth-bound spirituality. Peter Gabriel was thirty-five when he recorded this one. Once upon a time I might have thought that was when a man was at his physical strongest. Maybe some are. Not me.

Long before the movie Say Anything (1989) the song In Your Eyes was that summer's signature tune for walks on the beach, crazy-long make-out sessions, and basically any time the evening stretched on well past that point you know you really have to begin driving home because she has to be back by ten and you have to get up for school tomorrow, but five more minutes doesn't really make a difference at this point, right?

Temperature: 57°
Climate: The light! The heat!
Mood: I am complete.
Weight: 164.5 lbs.

Well. Today would have been a good day to run a half marathon.

So - Peter Gabriel (1986)
Red Rain
Sledgehammer (Extended Dance Version)
That Voice Again
In Your Eyes
Big Time (Extended Version)
This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds) ft. Laurie Anderson

Saturday, May 21, 2016

All I want is to forget how old I am.

Because fuck you.
Once again, I made a personal best, and under such oppressive conditions. How is this even possible? I mean, it's not Olympic, but I am how old I am. I have been running with regularity since 1998, and I keep doing better.

And I am depressed, for two reasons. One, I fear this could be it. I thought that in Minnesota, I am thinking it again. When do I do less better? How will that hit me?

In addition, what if I had started earlier? Why did I not go out for track when I was in eighth grade, or entering high school? Why marching band, why not something original, exciting, new, and uniquely my own?

The extent to which athletics was considered a non-possibility in my house when growing up makes me very sad.

Distance: 3 miles
Route: Forest Hill Loop

New shoes! Josh got some Asics and they don't work for him, so I am the benefactor. A little snug, on the smaller side of 10.5, but after one run they loosened up a bit. We'll see if they work out for me.

Thanks, Josh!

Temperature: 61°
Climate: warm!
Weight: 163.5 lbs.
Mood: good

Didn't run since the half. No time, too much going on. End of the school year affects my home life and work life, and there are so many places I have to be. And that's good.

But for a recovery run, it was pretty fast, free and fun. No goals right now, no timing my run, just listening to my body as I move through space.

Spring 2016 Playlist
2AM  - Bear Hands
Soundcheck - Catfish and the Bottlemen
I Know You Got Soul - Eric B. & Rakim
The Only One I Know - The Charlatans
Crown On The Ground - Sleigh Bells

Water - Ra Ra Riot

Dude thinks he's Annie Lennox. That's cool.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon

That was utterly ridiculous. Ridiculous, and in its way entirely awesome.

Official Time: 1:41:21
Avg. Pace: 7:43

Place Men 45-49: 14

Previous Best: 01:43:35 (Cleveland 2010)

The morning was ominous. The forecast was perfect in its awfulness -- upper thirties and rain. Rain, everything will get wet, especially the feet. Upper thirties is exactly the temperature where I could wear long pants or shorts. Rain and wind means my legs will freeze, long pants just suck.

I decided to go with the shorts, long-sleeve shirt with a short-sleeve over it, gloves ... I would wear a rain jacket and my pajamas as long as possible before dropping off my gear bag.

And the toe separator. Introducing something foreign into your shoe before a long run doesn't sound like a good idea, but maybe it was the weather but this old man was feeling a pain in his bunion.

Stepping out of the house it began to snow. Yes, today is May 15. In a little over a month it will be summer. However, for now, we have snow.

Chris and I met at the garage and walked over to the Q. It seemed like the worst was past, it was misty but not rainy. I had memories of how cool it was last fall before Twin Cities, and the morning just got better and better. This is not, however, how nature always works.

We found our pace group. The goal was an hour forty-two. I did not tell Chris that I hoped to beat my previous, I didn't want him to encourage me to go on without him if he started feeling it somewhere along the line.

Long story short, the weather became increasingly ridiculous. There was rain. There was sleet, there was more snow, and yes, there was hail. Hailstones. Lots of hail.

This is the first time I have ever run a long race with a partner, and it was really great. I mean, seriously, I do not believe either of us would have gone as fast, or even finished, without each other's good cheer and support. If I had been alone I would have been entirely miserable, I can tell you that.

However, we crack each other up, and were riffing with great skill until about mile ten when our chatter noticeably slowed. We succeeded in keeping up with the pace group (7:49) for most of the run, and it was at about mile nine that I felt were were slipping behind, and made an effort to catch up. Soon after we were both feeling it, though neither would admit it. It was all very positive.

The most amusing part of the route may have been the decision to take Train Avenue. I mean, really? You people won't send the marathon into the east side neighborhoods, but a dismal, chuckhole cratered wasteland is good enough for the tourists?

We started in on all the real estate possibilities of the hip new neighborhood soon to be referred to as Downtown Train.

The shitty weather kept crowds to a minimum (but a big thank you to all those who came out) and it's only upon reflection that I realized that I missed out on a lot of crowd interaction because we spent so much time in the middle of the street, to avoid the great puddles that form by the curb. I didn't read many signs, there were also much fewer of them.

When we turned onto Detroit from West 29th, after the mile eleven marker, we were suddenly struck by the devastation power of a Great Lake. It is a beautiful thing to live in proximity to such a majestic body of water as Lake Erie. However, when weather is inclement it can be an angry and unforgiving force. My grandfather sailed around the world, and he said the most dangerous body of water he had ever traversed was Erie.

But we did it. Onto the Shoreway, that final incline, we kept each other's spirits high, worked past the pace captain, and made it to the finish line.

It remained ghastly, every celebratory aspect of the finish line we were being pelted with rain and sleet. Grabbing food, receiving medals, I had to get my bag and put dry clothes over my wet ones, just to keep out the chill. My legs were terribly red. My fingers were numb, they could barely untie my laces. Later I would discover my wet socks had worn a nasty tear into my left heel.

Fact is, I have not felt this miserable after a race in a very long time, Years. When I got home, took a bath, had a nap, I ache, my knees hurt, Just ugh. Horrid weather. But, hey! Cleveland.

Chris and I had been joking about the post-race beer for days, and we actually went to get it. Because dammit! After a few sips, and attempted conversation with another runner, we decided this was pointless and pitched our cups to head off to get something to eat.

Inn on Coventry. Eggs Mando. Breakfast of champions.