September 26, 2004

The Miracle Mile

My wife had been wanting to run this race for quite some time. It was only a mile race at the local community festival so I thought, “What the hell. Why not” Never mind that we are both in arguably the worst shape of our lives. But, we’re both former track athletes who enjoyed a lot of success in our heyday. So, when our minds decided to run, our bodies were forced to go along.

We got to the race about thirty minutes prior to the race. We found the registration table and paid our entrance fees. We were handed our numbers. In our pre-race mindset, we were too distracted to notice Andrea’s bib number for the omen that it was. Instead, she pinned 911 on her chest and we warmed up together.

Up until then, my biggest comfort was that there is safety in numbers. I knew that no matter how bad of shape I was in, there would be plenty more who were in worse shape. I knew I could blend in and finish somewhere in the middle of the pack. As we warmed up along the race course – the same stretch of road that would later host the parade – we began to realize that there weren’t that many runners around. Andrea commented on this, and while I realized she was right, I struggled to admit this out loud. Instead, I commented while looking down at my own bib number, “There’s got to be at least 910, right”

We then started to jog back toward the finish line. As we got closer, with about 5 minutes before race time, it was clear that there were not a lot of runners. As we mingled at the starting line, I started to size up the competition. I was glad to see some guys with baby joggers. Perhaps they were someone I could beat. I glanced behind me. There was an old lady who looked like she was in pretty good shape. There was another couple who were also commenting on the small group. I gave them the once over and liked my chances of beating someone.

As the starter called us to the starting line, he began speaking to us through a bull horn but quickly abandoned that as he realized how ridiculous it was when clearly the 25 of us could hear him just fine without it. He explained the course was a half mile down the road, where we would turn around and finish right back where we were standing. He also told us that the men’s winner and women’s winner would win $100. He also mentioned that if a man beat the course record of 4:16 or a woman broke the course record of 4:50, then they would win $500. I smiled to myself at the impossibility of that statement but quickly focused as the starter called us to the line.

“GO!” He shouted. We quickly started running and I tried to get into a rhythm. Andrea quickly joined me and together we watched the majority of the group begin to pull away. I fought to control my pace as I knew going out too fast would be a problem. It didn’t matter. About 1/4 mile into the race I started to realize that there may be a chance I could not finish. My legs were beginning to tighten up and my chest started to burn. I could feel Andrea to my left and I saw a young teenage boy running awkwardly to me on my right. I decided to try to keep up with the boy as Andrea began to fall off the pace. We neared the 1/2 mile turnaround and for the first time, I noticed that there were people watching. Parade watchers were beginning to line the parade route. As I began the return to the finish line, I fought to block the pain out of my mind. And as the teenage boy pulled away, I made a mental note to kick Andrea in the rear after the race for making me do this. Of course, it would have to a long time after the race because clearly I was going to pass out when I finished.

The burning sensation in my legs and chest got stronger but I concentrated on pumping my arms and relaxing. I figured if I looked good running, people wouldn’t focus on how slow I was running. It was then I heard a sound that I had heard often at the many races I have attended in my life. I had never heard it while I was running – but it was unmistakable. I was getting my first pity clap. For those of you not familiar with running, the pity clap is the clap people give to those who bring up the rear in races. So, instead of wallowing in their pity, I turned, smiled and waved. “Look how much fun I’m having!” was the message I was trying to convey. I don’t think I pulled it off.

As I neared the finish I could see the majority of the group already finished. The four men with the baby joggers were already changing diapers and possibly planning to take their babies to college by the time I finshed. I crossed the finish line and looked at the time on the big clock. It read 7:23. Ouch. I ran through the chute, and turned to watch Andrea get passed by the old lady. Poetic justice, I thought as I staggered toward the water jug. Maybe I wouldn’t have to kick her in the rear after all. The old lady had just done that for me.

September 23, 2004

The early capitalist gets the worm

I was walking through Walmart today and in one section of the store they had a large Halloween display with large, life-sized Frankensteins, skeletons and witches. Orange and black dominated the section. Immediately next to this display was an equally large section of Christmas-related items. Red, green and white set the festive mood. Snowmen stood next to witches, spider webs were displayed next to twinkling Christmas trees.

I guess it’s never too early to start buying for Christmas.

September 18, 2004

Babies ‘R’ taking over

We visited the local Babies R Us today. You see, my brother and his wife Liz are expecting their first child. A boy. So, the rest of the family (Me, my wife, my mom, my grandmother and my aunt) trekked to Baby Land today to purchase all things baby.

Things I noticed while in baby land…

  1. Maternity clothes, just like normal clothes, vary in style. While there were some moms who were dressed in traditional oversized shirts and stretch pants, others were a bit more daring. My favorite was the woman in a pink mini-skirt, high heels, and three-quarter shirt with baby clearly exposed. She brought a new meaning to the phrase, “sexy mama.”
  2. There is serious money to be made on babies. $350 on a deluxe milking machine (I mean, breast pump)! $200 for a stroller! $700 for a small baby armoire (for that amount of money, the kid’s bringing it with him to college!).
  3. How come the most comfortable clothes you’ll ever wear are only made in baby sizes
  4. Most people, my brother and sister in law included, don’t register for all of the things they need. I guarantee you when it’s my turn, I’m going to have about 20 pages of registry items. Who knows, someone may be feeling generous and purchase the $200 stroller!
  5. Newborn babies cries are pretty cute.
  6. Finally, being around all the baby stuff makes you want one of your own.

Excuse, me while I go discuss this with my wife.

September 16, 2004

Wanted: Imsomniac

I have a counter on my blog. It’s the icon of the little planet on the right. It tells me how many people are viewing my blog. I think it’s the equivalent of a Skinner box. Instead of pellets of food or drops of water for the deprived rat, I get rewarded with “hits.”

Anyway, the reason I bring this item up, is that for the past year I have had a decent number of hits. Yet, with all of those visits, no one has ever visited me between the hours of 4:00-5:00 a.m. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all of you who visit during the other times (especially between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. – the most popular time) and especially grateful to the one visitor who visited between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. and also the one visitor I had between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. but I am hoping to fill all of the spots. So, if you ever happen to be up between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, please visit my blog.

Thank you.

The Bed

When I was little, I loved John Denver (come on, admit it, you did too). One of my favorite songs was Grandma’s Feather Bed. In this song, he describes, in a whimsical way, the fondness he had for this great big bed at Grandma’s house. My favorite lyrics were as follows…

It was nine feet wide, and six feet high, soft as a downy chick
It was made from the feathers of forty-eleven geese, took a whole bolt of cloth for the tick.
It’d hold eight kids and four hound dogs and a piggy we stole from the shed.
We didn’t get much sleep but we had a lot of fun on Grandma’s feather bed.

Well Andrea and I bought a California King size mattress and it arrived a few days ago. It’s huge and while no geese gave their feathers in the making of this bed, it feels wonderful! I have slept so well, and it feels great. The only downside, is after the alarm goes off in the bed, I usually roll over to wake up Andrea. Now I have to roll two or three times just to reach her.

While we probably will never have four hound dogs or a piggy in a shed, the bed is adequate for two grown-ups and a cat named Nutmeg.

By the way, if you know what a “bolt of cloth for the tick” is, let me know.

September 14, 2004

Furniture Blues

Four years ago, we ordered a couch and had it delivered. When the delivery men came, they accidently ripped the fabric. We then had to re-order our couch. Fast forward to today, where we again order a new piece of furniture (from a different company). This time, I had to stay home for about four hours to wait for the delivery. The workers had to lift this big, overstuffed chair up our narrow stair case. After they left, there were nicks in our wall, hand prints all over our white walls, and yes, a small five-inch tear in the back of the chair. You’d think I’d learn.

Now, I have to take another four hours out of my day next week for them to deliver a replacement. Perhaps we should stick to futons, Target/Ikea stuff and camping furniture. Nice, grown-up furniture is over-rated.

September 11, 2004

When do we start?

Seen on a billboard in L.A.

If you had all the money in the world, the rest of us would start using something else.

Hair Scare

I spent over an hour in Supercuts today. The waiting area was small and it was crowded.

I don’t know why, but it’s kind of creepy being in a cramped space with a bunch of shaggy-headed men.

September 9, 2004

Rogue Stove

As we arrived at the check-in kiosk at the campground Friday night, there was a sign that read,

“No camp fires, No charcoal barbecues, Gas Stoves only – Permit required.”

The ranger started the check-in procedure, and our conversation was as follows:

Ranger: Last Name
Me: H****
R: Camp Site
M: #65
R: Do you know your license plate number
M: M483NTD – I see, we can’t have camp fires. We have a gas stove. How do I get a permit
R: From me. What’s the make
M: A Coleman
R: No, I meant the car.
M: Oh, the car! I thought we were still talking about the stove.

Not my greatest conversational moment.

September 2, 2004

Little Bear?

We’re going camping this weekend at a place called Big Bear Lake.

Andrea questioned the wisdom of camping at a place called “BIG” Bear.

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