Monday, October 26, 2015

The 12 Half-Marathon Training Tips THEY Don't Want You to Hear

I’m going to be running my first-ever half marathon on Saturday. I’ve been preparing for this for quite some time – longer even then I’ve been preparing for Halloween if you can believe it. During my months and months of rigorous training, I’ve sweated, I’ve bled and I’ve learned a few things about distance running which I would like to share with you.  
Now sure, a quick Googling will turn up a few hundred million websites all purporting to offer the best and most valuable tips for surviving – and even thriving during – your half marathon. All of those things are great. Who doesn’t want to survive and thrive? However, I’ve noticed there are a few things they, the running literati, won’t tell you. While they may not be on the tips of anyone’s tongue, these things are just as important to survival.
I will impart this wisdom to you now in the form of a bulleted list:

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Adventures Doing the Exact Opposite of 'Speed'

I’m a slow driver. Some have said I drive the way old people make love – often using much more colorful terminology to do so. Usually, I retort with something along the line of “Yes, carefully and with years of experience.” It’s not a mic drop moment, it’s barely even a place the mic slowly back into the storage closet at the end of the night, sign it a lullaby and put on its Chris Rock nightlight moment. Still, it usually gets a chuckle and life goes on.
                I mean, I’m not going to argue. I am a slow a driver. I have been since the days when I carefully pushed my Matchbox cars around fake cityscapes, following what my 8-year-old brain understood to be “The rules of the road.” It ain’t going to change – well, not for the better anyway. Pack on 10-20 years and I’m going to be in danger of being thoroughly lapped by children on big wheels.
                I – and the drivers in between my place of business and my place of residence – got a sampling this past week of just what he future entails for me as a motorist.   
                First, a little backstory. I was finishing up my business at a local gas station the other morning. I needed to turn myself around in the lot, so I attempted to execute one of those three-point turns. It was empty so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. I pulled forward and though “Huh, I might make this in one go.” Naturally, the second I thought that, I heard the thing everyone who has ever thought that hears: the sound of tires or plastic or something scraping on something else. In this case, it was my tire and a curb. I sighed. The thing was, it didn’t sound that bad. It sounded like I was just sort of very lightly grazing it. I did what anyone would do, I dumbly pushed through it. My car didn’t flip, soon the scraping noise stopped. I made my way to the gym and that was that.
                But that wasn’t that. If that was that, this wouldn’t be a blog post. It would be a story I tell my wife when she asks me how my day was and I blank on the hours between 7-5. 
                A few hours later I exited the gym (No car cats, by the way) and found my tire, the one I scraped, mostly flat. I wasn’t totally surprised by this. I noticed it was looking a little light the day before and had, lazily, decided to let it go. I thought it must have been on its way to flat and then the incident from earlier in the day had pushed it along the rest of the way.
                It wasn’t so flat that I couldn’t drive it, so I made my way to the same gas station from earlier to get air. The air pump was broken. I went to a different gas station, slightly less nearby, and proceeded to refill the tire. While I was doing this, I noticed a slight tear on the side wall of the tire in the middle of an uneven, bubbly bit. Knowing that probably wasn’t a good thing, I finished the short rest of the trip to work.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Camping: How to Show Your Ancestors Who's Boss
Recently the wife and I ventured into the cold, dark heart of nature in order to prove to our long-gone ancestors that we are capable of surviving as they did, in harsh and angry world devoid of modern comforts. Just as they did, we spent our days walking and our nights under the stars. We cooked our food over a roaring fire and raised a toasted marshmallow in tribute to those who came before us.
                Oh and also like our ancestors, we kept a car close by. You know, to keep us and our food safe from marauding bears and to drive in case we wanted to go somewhere that was really far away and we didn’t feel like walking.    
                Alright fine, so maybe our ancestors wouldn’t exactly have been bowled over by our definition of roughin’ it, but still, we did survive a weekend spent predominantly outdoors. That has to count for something. Get off my back, ancestors.
                Probably the most important part of any camping trip, after the tent, a knife and finding a cool walking stick, is the fire. Without a fire, you got nothing. No s’mores, no light, no warmth. (Editor’s Note: These things are listed in order of importance from most important to least important.)
As I’ve found out from past camping experiences, lighting a fire without the benefit of electricity or propane or what have you can be trying. Very trying. You got to find the right blend of large and small bits of wood, you need something to get it going with, be it matches or flint, etc. So this time, I planned ahead. On the way home from work on the day we were set to depart, I stopped at a local grocery store and picked up two Duraflame logs. Duraflame logs are amazing. They’re what Prometheus got busted stealing from the gods. At my wife’s suggestion we also packed a bunch of wood that’s been collecting in our backyard. We had prepackaged corporate/Ancient Greek fire and we had lumber. We were set.