Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Friday, April 6, 2018

A solid example of why this blog should be repealed and run through a shredder

In a recent four-day span, I drove about two-thirds of the way across the country, leaving Colorado last Friday morning and arriving in Concord, N.H. on Tuesday afternoon. In theory, my two primary purposes here are visiting my family and friends and being at the Boston Marathon in the services of a couple of athletes who inexplicably trust me to advise them.  Just as appealing, though, was the idea of spending a lot of time by myself, free of the self-imposed lunacy of social-media engagement and other Internet bullshit, which is the main reason I drove instead of flying.

The most interesting, or at least distinctive, thing in the Jayhawk State.

On Friday afternoon, I stopped in a nowhere town in Kansas off I-70 and ran 3.3 miles. It was fairly unpleasant, in part because of the wind but mostly because almost every time I run these days, even for just a few steps, I am fighting the biological tide. The fact that my legs, knees, hips, and arms work with sufficient synchronicity to permit me to move in a mostly straight line at about 10 miles per hour for short spells doesn't imply that it's wise, fun, or remotely useful to do this. When I was younger, I could make a weak case for the amount of time I spent trying to be proficient at distance running to the exclusion of pursuing more productive and beneficial things. Today, however, the only defensible justification that I can offer for running every day is that I have irrevocably failed at everything that was once important to me, and I'd like to navigate the rest of my life free of both harmful mood-altering drugs and the insistent desire to destroy myself. Running doesn't induce physical pain (well, my knee sometimes sings) so much as remind me of my overwhelming purposelessness and the futility of continuing to do very basic and necessary things such as consume food, drink fluids, and draw breath. I mean really, why even take steps to maintain this unsightly bag of decaying cells? Yet I insist on bumblefucking my way along toward a long-overdue but natural demise, and physical activity, even as it ratchets up my demand for food and water and oxygen and drives home the fact of how much less capable I am at various things than I once was, is the most reliable means at my disposal to keep the noises driving me toward ruthlessly maladaptive behaviors to a comparative minimum.

I stayed in a Rodeway Inn in Columbia, Missouri on Friday evening, arriving just after midnight after about 650 miles of driving that day. The desk clerk had a difficult time communicating with me when I arrived, largely because he declined to terminate the angry cell-phone conversation he was involved in when I was checking in but also because he had some kind of unfortunate growth inside his mouth that I at first mistook for a large plug of tobacco before I took more careful stock of the situation. The bed in my room had a sheet on the mattress, but comforter. I decided not to ask for more bedding because of the high perceived risk of phthiris pubis or some such parasitic mayhem.

The next evening, I arrived in Columbus, Ohio, having driven 550 or so miles from Missouri. The utter bleakness of the southern Illinois/Indiana shitscape in between, with its endless shabby billboards advertising the services of Jesus H. Christ, Esq. and visibly defeated citizenry, is best deferred to another post or, better yet, no post at all, as is my description of the convoluted course of I-70 through both St. Louis or Kansas City. That I had announced a couple of days earlier that I was aiming for Columbus by Saturday at dusk was fortuitous; this had caught the attention of a couple of Facebook friends I had "known" from an old message board for many years, and I wound up meeting both of them. One was a biomedical engineer whose description of being one of about three women in a workplace of a few hundred people was quite entertaining, and the other was a sales manager at a Marriott who finagled a sharply discounted rate for me at "her" hotel despite the presence of the NCAA Women's Final Four in Columbus that weekend.

It was windy and dark by the time I set out to run, which was at around 11 p.m. I therefore decided to run on the Marriott treadmill. Trust me, it wasn't that windy (although it was in  fact dark, as often happens in many parts of the world close to the vernal equinox at midnight approaches) but these days, anything short of perfect weather has me considering either running indoors or skipping running altogether. At this point, I remain invested in protecting my "no missed days in 2018" streak even if I don't care so much about running per se, so I put in three more miles.


My default expression these days. Seriously.

Dublin on Easter morning. Dubliners love this holiday.

On Sunday, I intended to do a light track workout before leaving Columbus. Through one of the countless wonders of Google Maps' satellite view, I found a track at a school close to my breakfast spot, a Panera Bread that had graciously remained open despite this being yet one more day humans devote to worshiping sky-faeries and other childish nonsense aimed at making life more bearable. I ran three miles in the vicinity of this track before realizing that, contrary to my first visual impression, the gate to the track was locked. Fifteen years ago this would have inspired a great deal of angst; instead I was somewhat relieved, even though I felt decent for a change.


I returned to my car and resumed driving, not yet sure if I would take I-90 through New York State or I-80 across Pennsylvania once I reached the outskirts of metro Cleveland. I decided crossing Pennsylvania would be better; this would add about 20 miles but allow me to avoid the tolls of the New York Thruway and the Mass Pike as well as, in theory, offer incrementally warmer weather. I stopped in a place called Brookville and stayed at a Motel 8. That may well be the same of a country song. I forgot to mention earlier that I was astonished at the number of Christian radio stations between western Colorado and eastern Pennsylvania, which faced competition from other genres only in St. Louis, Kansas City and portions of Ohio. These channels were about equally split between talk radio and Christian music, with the former being just slightly more soul-scorching than the latter. I guess I have an inkling of how the cross-waving brigade feels whenever they hear rap, except that rap can, without question, be uplifting to listen to -- especially to runners -- no matter your musical tastes because of the insistent beat. Christian music, like country, is abysmal even exclusive of the inane lyrics. Christians should be hitting their knees and thanking not God but the FCC for even  allowing all of this shit to be flung electronically around this broken country with such profligate disregard for decency and taste.

It snowed on Sunday night, so instead of hitting the clubs in Brookville, I stayed inside and learned "Tainted Love" on my keyboard. (What was that about scorning other people's taste in music?) I don't want to give too much away, but this is not a complicated piece of music. G, B-flat, E-flat,  C, and repeat until you're fucking tired of the noise. The extended version includes a cover of "Where Did Our Love Go?" by the Supremes (a damned good question) and that part cycles through G, Dm, C, Dm, and C.

This photo, taken across the street from the hotel, encapsulates towns like these nicely.

Given the popularity of porn, if the warning were true, the U.S. would be a nation of 
mindless, soulless people with decrepit bodies. Wait...

In theory I could have made it to Concord by late Monday night, but I really didn't feel like driving that far. I elected to stop in Newburgh, New York, where I stayed at a Howard Johnson. Once again considering doing a track workout, I went to a school neighboring Cornwall, but the track there was an ugly reddish color, so I opted to do a 7.5-mile early-evening run in the area instead. This actually felt decent, but it should have, given the  pitiful pace at which I ran. Coincidentally, someone fast graduated from this high school not that long ago before going on to enjoy a solid career at everyone's safety school. Stanford University.


Tuesday's drive was both the shortest and most miserable of the trip. It poured the whole time. I also don't like driving anywhere near Worcester, Mass., because it has become increasingly evident over the years that nearly everyone born in or associated with that place is stricken with moderate-to-extreme moral, intellectual, or mental inadequacies. This isn't shocking, given what the city looks and smells like. Maybe the water is even more toxic than Flint's.

I waited until after my friend and host Troy's birthday party in  East Concord to get in my streak-preserving three miles. I grew up close to this neighborhood and am no stranger to running  here, and although the area hasn't undergone Boulder-scale population growth, it is always depressing to consider that areas that were once uninhabited or very-low-traffic are now residential neighborhoods. Things like this wouldn't matter as much if I hadn't plunged from mere cynicism into toxic misanthropy over the past couple of years (staying sober comes at the price of living in reality, and the reality is that most people are frightfully stupid and self-serving and no fun to deal with at all).

I should be at least a little pleased that I got here in one piece, managed to keep up with my workload, did at least some running every day, and even behaved in a pro-social manner along the way. But with a few important exceptions, I don't care much for the things this world presents. In an effort to allay some of my scorn, I deactivated my social-media accounts with the exception of Instagram, which can only be so bad from my perspective because it doesn't include hordes of ignorant cross-eyed fuckwads bellowing confidently about things they know absolutely nothing about. (I could claim that the current uproar about Facebook's selling of personal data to anyone willing to pay for it -- and its likely role in helping install a shit-encrusted special-needs adult in the West Wing -- is a factor, but that would be a lie. Sentient beings have know of the company's skullduggery for a solid decade, and my general contempt for the masses reaches back even further and has never been under wraps.) I am also not going to get any closer to finishing an important long-term project if I spend hours a day fighting with people whose over level of neurological functioning is somewhere between that of a typical barnyard animal and the material that falls out of the assholes of those animals at regular intervals.

Along these lines, and in acknowledgement of how listless my running is, I'm skipping a local 5K tomorrow that I have trotted through a couple of times in recent years and won on three occasions back when I was at least somewhat respectable at this silly activity. If I want to achieve the same psycho-emotional state that encountering other runners and struggling to a shitty time would produce, I can  just repeatedly punch myself in the dick until either my crotch or my hand gets tired.

Finally, I recently pointed out that I'm tired of comments from nutjobs, and, in no small part owing to the fact that the howling dumbfucks of America elected a howling dumbfuck to the presidency, of the presence of nutjobs in the world in general. In response to the recent surge in chatter about America's gun violence, some psychologist somewhere pointed out that most mentally disturbed people are not violent and that most violent people don't qualify as mentally disturbed. As heartwarming as this is, the undeniable truth is that mentally disturbed people are uniformly annoying. If they weren't, we wouldn't label them "disturbed" in the first place, because what they are more than anything else is disturbing. Thanks in no small part to the relentless shitshow this person's pointless life represents, and also thanks to the presence of people like this, whatever sympathy I once mustered for people with fucked-up brain chemistry is gone, and the fact that they can't help it doesn't matter to me at all. I'm obviously no stranger to psychological unrest, but for whatever reason I've never systematically focused my fucktardation (not a clinical term and not one that's bound to earn me kudos from SJWs, but I'm not on the Internet to make friends or even a favorable impression) on dragging other people into the mud. My most eager commenter, whose mental disorders have caused real problems in other people's lives, recently crossed a line here, so I'm not publishing what he wrote or any of his comments anymore (this makes me perhaps the 61st blogger to take this step). I'm leaving the existing ones up owing to a combination of laziness and morbid fascination. I know that psych drugs are no panacea, but if the caregivers of those nettlesome and intrusive whackos refuse to step in and do everything they can to sedate them, tough shit. My blog is not going to serve as substrate for the differently challenged to act out their weirdness.

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