Don’t Be Fueled By Anything Less

I had no idea how serious these runnerds are about their equipment.

Sure, I knew you needed to have good running shoes. They’ve got those special shirts that wick away moisture, whatever that means, and those rib-high shorts made from tissue paper. A nice light pair of parachute pants and a windbreaker help make running bearable when the weather gets cold. I know about all these fashion to-do’s. What I didn’t know about the runnerd culture is the veritable plethora of energy foods and, dare I call them, candy items available.

Long gone are the days of choking down Power Bars and munching on granola washed down with Gatorade. Now you’ve got your energy chews, gels, brews…Heck, I even saw an energy waffle in the store today. Know what else they have? Sport Beans. Not the green or yellow garden-variety beans; that’s another blog altogether. I’m talking about jelly beans with a boost! Can you just imagine your small children on Easter Sunday with a basket full of chocolate and caffeinated jelly beans? If it’s not too much trouble, please videotape that scene for me. Maybe invite the whole neighborhood over for an Easter egg hunt. I bet America’s Funniest Videos sends you a self-addressed stamped envelope to make sure that one gets into their hands as quickly as possible.

I bought a whole slew of this stuff today. I’m going to try them out one at a time, and see if the difference is noticeable. A cursory glance at the labels tells me some of these are for the pre-run, some for during a run itself, and others for after a run is complete. Seems to me if I use them all at their proper intervals, I should be able to go for days without sleeping. What they won’t be able to do for me…what no amount of candy-coated stimulant can provide…is the motivation to get out there and run. That remains my biggest obstacle.

Then again, maybe I’ll go ahead and try them all at once. Watch for me in your neighborhood. I’ll be the one with the Forrest Gump beard who hasn’t stopped for days, carrying the pumpkin-shaped trick-or-treat bucket full of candergy.

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Imelda Marcos I Ain’t

I buy shoes every 4 or 5 years, whether I need them or not. These are my latest. They may also be the most important, in quite some time. That’s only one of them; the other is practically a mirror image.

It was definitely time to replace the shoes I bought for running who-knows-how long ago. While not approaching Air Jordan figures, these are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever purchased. I headed out to Universal Sole, a store catering to runners. I read a few articles on the interwebs that explained how people who know shoes determine which type to look for, be it stability, support, etc. I expected a small battery of tests. Instead, the woman at US had me do one exercise; stand on one leg and squat down. The left leg was awkward; when I did the right-legged squat, I looked across the store to see where my knee would end up. It was one of the most difficult movements I’ve ever tried, and she needed to see no more. I needed a stability shoe, and soon.

They have a treadmill in the store so customers can take a test drive before buying. Having never been on a treadmill in my life, I never let go of the handrail and couldn’t get much a feel for the first shoe. Fortunately, they also let you wear the shoes outside and take a quick jog up and down the block.I tried four pairs of shoes that way; the Nikes were hands-down the best-feeling shoe of the lot. Now, Nike has never signed me to a contract, but I have always been a Nike guy.  The first 3 pairs were non-Nikes, but I’d like to think I chose these shoes based solely on their comfort and stability. I also had no idea what the price of any of the shoes were, so I couldn’t let that factor into my decision. In the end, I’m happy I bought the shoes I bought. After the first 8 miles, they feel good. I’ve got no blistering, no foot pain, and no additional muscle pain outside of the tightness I’ve already been experiencing. A good start.

My lesson has been learned. I’ll never again buy the coolest looking running shoes off the sale rack at Foot Locker or the remnant shelf at the outlet mall. Running is hard on the body, and until I can buy the latest and most innovative human feet on eBay, I’ll keep shopping for a good pair of kicks as soon as the current ones need replacing.

I’m still thinking about getting some 2011 calves though.

Should I Be Able To Bend This?

Flexibility matters. And I ain’t got none. I can’t even keep my knees straight when I try to stretch out my hamstrings. Even in my high school athletic days, I was never one for stretching. The summer before my senior year, I spent half an hour everyday stretching in my sweltering attic bedroom. Hot yoga before it was cool, if you will. But by the time basketball season lagged into track, I was back to my old unbending ways. I’ve thrown myself down on the floor a few times lately, but I’m easily frustrated with what appears to be the early onset of rigor mortis in my lower extremities. Plus, it hurts.

What do I do to slowly get some pliability back in these old muscles? My running is going fairly well, but I know I’m not spending nearly enough time before and after getting my legs stretched out. Are there clinics that will put you under anesthesia and bend you up all pretzel-like, the way the dentist does? (Not the bending part; I mean when you they knock you out to do dental work, silly) I wouldn’t mind waking and feeling everything all loosened up for me. Then I’d really be ready for a run. I’d be willing to take a few free yoga classes, or something similar, just to learn some techniques. Yes, free is important.

BTW, I got in 4.5 miles today after doing 3.5 yesterday evening. May have been a little too close together, as I feel especially rigid now. But I got new shoes on Saturday, and I needed to give them a try. Maybe I should have paid a little extra and splurged on some new calves instead?

Even Moths Take Hollidays

It drew a lot of chuckles, but what happened to the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Holliday this week was no laughing matter. A moth flew into his ear, and he had to leave the game to have it taken out.

This exact same thing happened to me once, and no, it wasn’t funny at all.

Except is wasn’t a moth, it was a bee.

And it didn’t fly into my ear; it was my can of Pepsi.

Come to think of it, I didn’t even get stung.

Ugh, I should delete this one too…

Blame It On Xerox

After all, didn’t they invent copying?

I once heard two sportswriters begin a discussion about plagiarism. And while I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on their entire conversation, it got me to thinking about the subject. It seems to me, with everyone and their cat having blogs these days, isn’t it inevitable that we’re going to step on each others toes from time to time? I don’t mean on purpose. I’m talking about pure, unintentional posts, on the same subject, that happen to turn out similar. Especially in the sports world, where everyone is trying to report the same game/event/news/celeb-the-shortstop-is-dating, you’re going to have instances where writers create similar content without any idea someone else just said the same thing.

I ran on in that paragraph to lead you to this: Yesterday I posted on my blog about my increasing misuse of the word “literally”. Well, friend and fellow Cub enthusiast Adam Kellogg (adamkellogg.com) had posted an eerily similar blog, literally, less than a month ago. It happens, I guess. But it seemed like the right thing to do was to take my post down. Adam’s was better than mine anyway. Not that I don’t think two people can have the same thoughts on a subject, but it just looked too suspicious. If you happened to see them both, I’m sure you would have agreed.

My apologies to Adam, though I’m sure he neither expects one nor feels one is necessary. The thoughts on the page were my own. But when someone else does it first, and more eloquently, good judgement wins out. Especially when that blog is linked to your own. Plus, it gave me something to write about today, because I’m not feeling particularly creative 🙂

 

A New Wrigley Seating Chart

I’ve been to four Cub games at Wrigley this year. That’s my all-time high for a season since leaving PNC Park. Unless you’re a stickler for sound fundamentals, it’s tough not to enjoy yourself at the Friendly Confines. Depending on where you sit, of course. It’s time to stop letting fans choose their ticket by location, and give us the option of sitting in groups of peers.

The smoking factor was removed long ago. No more worries about getting caught downwind from the guy with the stogie. Those things can last an entire game.

An alcohol-free zone would be nice for those of us who can manage to make it through nine innings without a beer per. Pretty sure there are ballparks out there with “family friendly” sections, but I’d rather not have to choose between obnoxious drunks and fidgety children.

Set up a few “baseball expert” aisles, so those of us who know that a fastball is faster than a curve ball don’t have to listen to you explain the subtle nuances of the game to your girlfriend. Otherwise, stay home and watch a couple games on TV before you see one live. Bring along your copy of the Baseball Prospectus so she can read what the utility infielder’s high school’s mascot was. The rest of us don’t care, and don’t want to be escorted from the stadium for accidentally spilling six Pepsi’s on you.

Let the people who insist on complaining about their jobs have their own section. There are spectacular views from rock walls on the Lake Michigan shoreline where you can spout off about work for free, and no one else can hear you. You also won’t take the chance that the woman sitting right behind you is the sister of the boss you just tore to shreds because you couldn’t get your cat’s birthday off.

Set up a few seats near the restrooms for people with…medical issues. They always seem to get stuck in the middle or the row. My row.

Most importantly, and maybe the only one necessary, cordon off a section or two for the people who came to actually watch the game. Where the hot dog vendor comes by every half-inning, the outfielders toss baseballs into the stands, and the lights don’t interfere with the ISS passing overhead. That’s not asking too much.

Did I miss anything?

Confessions of a Food Snob

It’s not what you think…

In the rash generalization that is my mind, I think of food snobs as those who demand the best at all times. Joanna Stayton in Overboard insisting on the finest caviar, rather than “fish bait”. French champagne instead of the sparkling wine we pass off for bubbly here in the States. But that’s not the type of food snob I am. I’m much more like your 7-year-old son snob.

Every kid is a picky eater. Not a single dish in culinary history has been placed before a child without a nose immediately turning upwards. It’s what we do. If it’s not the same meal we’ve had the previous 12 lunches, then we don’t want it. The difference between your child and me, however, is that Junior’s taste will eventually, likely, grow up. Mine never did.

To pigeonhole me as a strictly meat-and-potatoes consumer would actually sell me short; I need to know what kind of potatoes they are first. Mashed? That’s a good start, but they aren’t garlic mashed potatoes, right? Because that would be gross. Set them down in front of me, and my head will snap back like a dazed welterweight with fresh smelling salts under his nose. Oh, you’ve substituted mashed parsnips for potatoes? Please cancel my order, I’ve just been paged into surgery.

I’m in my 43rd year of guarding my discerning palate. (I don’t remember the first 3) It has nothing to do with wanting to like something. It’s about my taste buds accepting the taste. I have no more control over my ability to like a flavor than the human body has in deciding to accept or reject a transplanted heart. Either I like it or I don’t. There is no thought process involved.

Sure, in earlier times there was a more cerebral approach to eating. Lasagna is now one of my favorite foods, but as a child I claimed to hate it simply because it looked like it had way too many things going on under that cheese. Basic is better for me. Meat sauce = good. Add chunks of…well, anything really, and it becomes a stew gone horribly wrong that you’ve now decided to heap onto my pasta. Do not challenge me. I’ll sit at your table and pick out every hunk of tomato, mushroom, pepper and onion I can find in there before I can truly enjoy that recipe your grandmother handed down to you. It’s not her. It’s me.

People who know me for any length of time rarely invite me to dinner without telling me what they’re having. It’s nice of them to be concerned, but it’s also embarrassing. Trust me, I’d rather be able to dig into whatever is put on my plate. I’d prefer to order anything off a menu. (I have yet to resort to ordering from the child’s menu, but I’m not above that if everything else looks gross.)  I wish I could try the plethora of international cuisines available is a big city like Chicago. But I can’t, and I won’t. There are just too many yucky things out there.

Still feel like making me dinner this weekend?