Friday, December 28, 2012

I dream of cherry pies, candy bars and chocolate-chip cookies.

Bilbo faces Smaug.

My soleus muscle in my right shin continues to hurt. What should I do?

Q: Has the pain increased in intensity since you first noticed it?

--- If "N" = Keep running.
--- If "Y" = Go to:

Q: Can you still run on it?

--- If "Y" = Keep running.
--- If "N" = Keep running. 
Temperature: 33°
Climate: cool and clear with (mostly) dry pavement
Distance: 4 miles
Arthur: Three pints? At lunchtime?
Ford: Muscle relaxant. You'll need it.

That was splendid. But with bright sunshine and no breeze, and only a few degrees warmer than yesterday, I was quite overdressed. No matter. Outstanding weather, outstanding view, inspiring playlist. And though my right shin was tight and unhappy for about 100 yards, it was springy and pain-free for the rest of the run and even now.

But only just now. I can feel the tightness creeping in.

David H., this is a very large beer. "Hi."

It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) Genius Playlist
Rush And A Push And The Land Is Our - The Smiths
Bombs Away - The Police
(Nothing But) Flowers - Talking Heads
Heartland - U2
Strange  - R.E.M.
Man Out Of Time - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Never Mind - The Replacements
The Mayor of Simpleton - XTC
These Things Take Time - The Smiths
Secret Journey - The Police

I have taken EIGHT runs this December, which ties the number of December runs I took in 2008 when I was in training for And Then You Die. That is a good thing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why is the last mile the hardest mile?

You may have noticed that there is a list of RUNNING BLOGS featured at right. I had added several of the "official" CLE Bloggers to the list last season, but as most were inconsistent in their posting (many of which included the tired refrain of "sorry I do not blog more") and not very interesting, I recently pulled them down to include only those which I actually read.

Two blogs of my favorite blogs are coincidentally from Brooklyn.

Live To Run/Run to Live chronicles the trials (get it?) of Cris Dopher, professional lighting designer, who also happens to live with Cystic Fibrosis. Our first meeting was interesting, because I got naked. No seriously, he heard about my show in the NY Fringe and showed up to check it out and that is how we met. When I begin whining about my physical condition, I check out his blog and that gives me some perspective. His determination is truly inspiring. He's also opinionated in the best way.

I cannot recall exactly how I became interested in What You Do Not Know Because You Are Not Me! which is a stupid name but a very funny blog, I think I started following it during the 2009 Fringe and never stopped.  Recently he has been including his own images of poor Coney Island, which is not so funny, but I am happy for the updates.

Just yesterday I added a new blog, Run Away From Trouble -- new to me, but also just new, as its author has only just begun this work today. A wife, mother and teacher, a long-time contact teacher for the school residency program, in her first entry Stephani promises to share her own personal, emotional connection to running, and its practical uses in keeping her body and soul together. I'm really looking forward to it.

Finally, Poise In Parma is a professional, exceptionally well-maintained blog chronicling not only running, yoga and diet, but also a wide variety of exciting Cleveland events. This one is kept by my former co-worker and friend Alicia Hansen, who is not related to me, so please do not hold anything found in my blog against her.

If there are other, strong, running-related blogs, especially ones based in Cleveland, please let me know about them so I can check those out. For a blogroll of great Cleveland oriented (i.e. not running) blogs, please see my list on Cleveland Centennial.

Temperature: 29°
Climate: Icy
Distance: 4 miles

That was the best run of the week, in spite of the icy pavement. I almost entirely wiped out, once, on a decline, catching myself on the crispy grass. I pulled my headphones off to listen to a large flock of geese move from the river to the bank. One of them scolded me with great umbrage.

Running every day makes running easier and more enjoyable. Do you see? 

It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) Genius Playlist
Shiny Happy People - R.E.M. ft. Kate Pierson
Is It Really So Strange - The Smiths
Alex Chilton (164 bpm)  - The Replacements
See a Little Light - Bob Mould
It's Alright For You (171 bpm) - The Police
The Electric Co. (163 bpm) - U2
Earn Enough For Us - XTC
Catapult - R.E.M.
Beyond Belief - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Blood & Roses - The Smithereens
I'll Be You - The Replacements
Dreamworld (159 bpm) - Midnight Oil

Now that's a good college music playlist.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All this year's been a busy blur, don't think I have the energy.

Okay. So, the fact remains. Since I began either running barefoot or using zero-drop shoes, I have been experiencing tightness in my soleus muscle which causes pain and can make it difficult to walk without taking baby steps.

This pain only exists for a short period following rest (sleeping at night) or sitting for an extended period of time, as in a chair or worse, crisscross on the floor. Walking makes it feel better, standing exacerbates the pain.

Odder still, it is largely concentrated in the right leg, little or not at all in the left. Why do it do this?

"I was making rather merry last night."
- Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol

And if by last night you mean this morning, so was I. The girl couldn't sleep and joined us in our bed at 5 AM but though she was able to get back to sleep, I was not. I sat up and read and wrote, my mother-in-law encouraging me to get at least a few minutes rest before the festivities began at 7, which I did.

It was a glorious morning, I was spoiled with presents of great function received with extreme appreciation including winter gloves, knit hat and a Current hoodie. An early morning spent drinking coffee & Bailey's was followed by a late morning sipping several Guinness at the Skull.

By 1 PM I was ready for bed, waking a short while later with something like a hangover. Because that's how the human body works. In spite of a natural desire to stay in bed for the rest of the day, I chose instead to get up and out, which could either go well or very, very poorly. 

Temperature: 35°
Distance: 3 miles

Holiday Run Playlist
Feels Like Christmas - Cyndi Lauper
Snowman - XTC
Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
Hot Christmas - Squirrel Nut Zippers
Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
Holiday - Vampire Weekend
Carol of the Bells - The Bird and the Bee
Holiday - Green Day

I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake

I returned feeling like a new and sober man, a brisk three mile run and holiday music buzzing in my ears. The Christmas you get you deserve, indeed.

Good boy.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Plows are stranded, so we're in the bars.

We have relocated to parts south for the duration. While a good friend minds our cats and resides in our home (in case you had any direful ideas) we will be relaxing at the outlaws for an entire week. The wife and I will shift to our office away from home in an hour or so, where over the next several days she will complete her manuscript and I will write a first draft of a new children's play.

The children, meanwhile, will play with matches near the oily rags in the garage. Already, my father-in-law has shown the boy how to make an electric magnet with wire, a D-battery, and a long rusty nail. I was shocked, and then I was shocked.

The plan is also to run every day. Today is rainy but not entirely unpleasant. However, I fear the bike path may ice. Today is was simply wet, with little or not wind. Good enough, but the clown shoes get wet in little time, so I did not make my usual 4 miles, turning around early to keep my spirits bright.

Temperature: 31°
Climate: rain
Distance: 2.8 miles

Holiday Run Playlist
Christmastime In Painesville - Slack Jaw
25th December - Everything But the Girl
Last Christmas - Billie Piper
Holiday (What Do You Want?)  - Mike Doughty ft. Roseanne Cash
Must Be Santa - Bob Dylan
Christmas Is The Time To Say "I Love You" - Billy Squier
The Closing of the Year  - Wendy & Lisa

"Jingle Bell Rock". The only holiday pop song that in no way "rocks".

More recent CLE Marathon Development: I was offered the opportunity to be a "guest" blogger, which means my blog would be featured only once during the training process, either in January, when no one else has started training, or in May, after the race.

When I inquired as to whether this honor included a waiver of my registration fee to the race itself, they said no, but that I could attend the VIP Brunch on the day of the race which no runner can actually attend because it starts when the race does.

I had to decline. I am almost 45 years-old, I do not know how many marathons I have left in me. I find it ridiculous to be expected to promote and endorse this depressing road show, and also have to pay for the privilege to do it.

Some good friends threw an End-of-the-World fiesta on December 21, where I met up with a few  CLE 2012 veterans and we all began discussing plans for the new year. We were kvetching about the second half of the Cleveland Marathon, exchanging notes about the disparity of water stops, the dearth of time display clocks, the poor management of cross-traffic and the rude treatment we received from drivers, and the general war-torn state of the roads in the S. Clair-Superior neighborhood. Not one of us plan to return to the CLE in 2013.

However, they did try to turn me onto the Glass City Marathon in Toledo on April 28, 2013, but I do not believe that will fit into the larger, family schedule. Regardless, it is my resolution to hit the road almost as often in the new years as I did this year. But can I maintain a sustained level of running in the winter without the goal of a race looming? Just have to choose another race. I'm thinking it's time to try the Towpath!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When your seven year-old son asks to run with you, you say yes.

Temperature: 57°
Distance: 2 miles

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You Were a Pretty Queen of New York City

This holiday season I have been thinking a lot about Nineteen Eighty-Seven. That's a quarter century ago. Maybe it's because that's when I bought the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, and listened to it until my mother was driven to distraction. Or when my father first turned me onto Brubeck's Time Out. Or the first Very Special Christmas Album.

Nineteen Eighty-Seven was my first full year as an adult. It was an emotional trajectory from low to high, all year long. My first serious dating relationship broke up during the holidays in 1986 ... okay, that's not fair to the girls I dated in high school. What I mean is this was the first time she broke up with me.

I took Accutane to stanch hideous, scarring acne. In that year I had sex with more different people than in any other. I do not think those two facts are unrelated.

The year began with a mullet. By the mid-summer my hair was dyed black. I learned how to actually dance. I started clubbing. My first mosh pit. There were drugs. I began work on my first daily comic strip. There was freedom. There was a complete lack of personal responsibility. It was also the fall when I first met my wife.

Yes, things were carefree and crazy in 1987. I had a near nervous breakdown less than a year later, but that goes without saying.

Temperature: 37°
Distance: 3.25 miles

1987 Holiday Playlist
Fairytale of New York - The Pouges ft. Kirsty MacColl
It's A Wonderful Life (Gonna Have A Good Time) - Fishbone
Winter Wonderland - Eurythmics
Vanishing Girl - The Dukes of Stratosphear
Gabriel's Message - Sting
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
Got My Mind Set On You - George Harrison
Pump Up The Volume - M/A/R/R/S

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's not as if they're paying you. It's not as if it's fun.

New fleece.
What happened since my last run:

Monday: Long day, full of business, including a reading of my new play.

Tuesday: Following a site visit, on a 90 minute drive home from the Wooster area, in driving rain, I begin to feel ill. I take to bed early.

Wednesday: I have what can reasonably be described as a "cold" and take the day off work.

Thursday: My sinuses packed, this would be a good day also to stay home and rest. But an actor calls to say he has a fever. Well, my symptoms can be handled with cold medication, so I race to the school and sub.

Friday: Still feeling poorly, there is a different actor at a different school who has requested supervision, so I attend that school. Following an early lunch at that terrible chain restaurant First Watch -- where I thought I would be safe with soup, for God's sake -- I begin to develop an upset stomach. Nothing work impairing, but it is uncomfortable.

We have pizza that night, which gives me an upset stomach.

Saturday: The week concludes still feeling stuffed and unwell, but never with a fever or other flu-like symptoms, I rest most of the day at home with the kids. We have left-over pizza for breakfast -- ang again I become bloated and distressed. My wife says it was dumb to have the pizza, and I have to agree.

That night is a special work-related event, which I muster up the strength to attend and am very glad I did, it was a wonderful event. I am concerned about eating dinner, but I was very hungry (I had skipped lunch) but it goes down pretty well. I wake in the middle of the night with stomach cramps.

Sunday: My first day without cold medication, that part of what has been troubling me finally waning, I have a late dinner, leftover eggplant Parmesan and pasta.

Monday: Around 3 AM I wake with a painfully distended abdomen and sit up for about an hour before returning to sleep. This morning my wife has diagnosed that either I have a lingering bug, or stomach cancer have suddenly become lactose intolerant, for which I soundly mock her.

That morning at the office I get coffee without cream.

Tuesday: Finally, at long last. My head is clear, my stomach settled. I get an email from the Cleveland Marathon, rejecting my application to be one of their twelve "official" bloggers.

That's okay, I didn't want to blog about your stupid marathon, anyway. The second half of the route is horrid, the Expo is in fucking Berea and there's no free coffee at the starting line.

Well, shit.

Temperature: 36°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Losing My Edge Genius Playlist
Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
Mistaken For Strangers - The National
In The Morning - Junior Boys
Warsaw (173 bpm) - Joy Division
Battery Kinzie - Fleet Foxes
Say My Name - Holy Ghost!
The Fox In The Snow - Belle & Sebastian

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Run, run, run to make your heart shake.

Elation: a feeling or state of great joy or pride; exultant gladness; high spirits.

So, that report came out in the last year or so that it is not true that running releases chemicals which quell depression.  However, I am almost sure that 1) doing something that makes you feel good and 2) makes you proud of yourself, does. Maybe there are no chemicals involved. It just, you know, is.

That was outrageous! Outstanding! I did not want to go. No, I did not. And it had nothing to do with the weather, because I had no conception of the weather. In the fifties, sure, but also rain. How much rain? No idea.

Well, a lot of rain. Lately, My legs have felt stiff. Is it the shoes? No idea. Today, however, it was raining. Windy. Puddles. In my clown shoes. I raced. My legs felt springy and strong. I ran. I was smiling, grimacing rictus, teeth in the rain.

Even when the rain died down, I flew, even uphill. I felt strong. I also felt fat, a lot of soft tissue bobbing in my belly. I lengthened my spine, chin up. Working muscles. If I did this every other day, this would cease to be an issue.

Lately, I have been slowing around Lee and Euclid Hts. Blvd. Top of an incline, but not yet to the apex. Feeling weary, heavy. Today I fought that, and was rewarded. I only walked past the site of a car collision at Mayfield and Taylor. One of them was injured, his knee did not look good. I gave silent thanks.

Only after ending my run, my right knee began to ache, it aches now. I took pain reliever. I nearly gave myself a foot spasm, multitasking, trying to dry my feet after a shower while reading some article in The New Yorker.

Temperature: 54°
Climate: wind & rain
Distance: 3.25 miles
The Damage: 178.5 lbs.

I may need to record my diet here, to keep myself honest. Maybe I would make myself feel better if I not only log what I eat, but what is available to me which I do not eat.

Starting tomorrow. There's a party tonight.

Losing My Edge Genius Playlist
Us V Them - LCD Soundsystem
Eyes Be Closed - Washed Out
Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above (Calvin Harris Remix) - CSS
Roadrunner - The Moderns Lovers
Boyfriend - Best Coast
Digital (169 bpm) - Joy Division

Saturday, December 01, 2012


The holiday season is here, that deadly period between Halloween and New Year's when the office is full of candy, cookies, nut bread. The beer is heavier -- and so am I!
There are too many activities, and this season we appear to be indulging in all of them. Keep in mind, we try not to. We try to say no. We try not to tax the children, or ourselves. But not in 2012. We have been on personal austerity for almost four years. Not that everything costs money, it doesn't. But a lot of things that come to us through personal affiliation are surrounded by hidden costs. Babysitters. Dinners out. Gifts. Just Saturday afternoon we did local shopping, which brought with it lunch at a local restaurant, which cost quadrupled the amount spent on the shopping.

And restaurant dining means eating more than usual. I imagine eating less, smaller portions, no seconds. But it doesn't happen. Thanksgiving was absurd.

Meanwhile, it is an astonishing 63° today, but between a winter basketball registration and clinic for the boy, aforementioned shopping spree, one of the last fall soccer games and a trip to see The Whipping Man at Cleveland Play House, there will be no running today. No running for ten days.

My right knee is where it began last summer. Pain in or about the lateral tendon. I believe this is due to an old futon mattress, it's like sleeping in a ditch. The pain in my shins has been exacerbated by ... well, running, I guess. Maybe the barefoot slippers are not good for me. But then, neither is running once a week -- or less.

I need motivation. But then, this is always a difficult time of year for me, for running. True, I ran a mere four times in November. But that is average, for November, I have a record here, in this blog. Four or five times during November. And also in December, anywhere between five runs or none at all. I can do better than that. I mean, my grandfather can do at least that, and he's been dead for seven years.