Former 2:24 marathoner, now pushing 50 and reduced to a pitiable spastic shuffle • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on distance running since 1999; mostly a crank since approximately 2016 and possibly long before • Coach and adviser of less pessimistic perambulators • Dobie-mix owner Sentence-fragment impresario

Friday, April 26, 2019

Road trip or roving relocation?

Last year, having bought a used MINI Cooper over the winter from a friend at a fair price, I made a road trip across the country starting on March 31. Along the way, I stopped and saw friends in Columbus, Ohio, but was intent on getting to my destination of Concord, N.H. apace, because I wanted to make it there in time for the April 3 birthday party held at the home of the couple I always stay with in my hometown.

I did in fact arrive in time for that gathering, meaning that I completed the trip in about four and a half days. I was still almost three months away from adopting Rosie and I was also, in theory, still training to compete in running races. I was also planning to station myself at the 23-mile mark of the Boston Marathon for the fourth straight year, which I did (and the weather was so abysmal last year that I practically had Beacon Street to myself). I didn't run any races while I was there, although on the way back, I accompanied a friend to a 64-something at the Broad Street 10-Miler in Philadelphia. I stopped to see friends in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, and after surviving the desolation of Nebraska and northeastern Colorado -- which is not as soul-crushing as the strip of I-70 that crosses eastern Colorado and Kansas -- I made it home around May 10.

















This year, I'm making a similar trip in terms of its timing (I left Boulder on March 21) and its general eastward direction. Running is playing a supporting, not starring, role. I hope to never be at the Boston Marathon again, and having confirmed that "masters racing" is an especially ugly and embarrassing form of being graded on a curve, I shitcanned the idea of goal-oriented running about six months ago. But I'm still an eager jogger, and since June I've had have a companion who loves both trotting with me and riding shotgun in the car to wherever we decide to jog when we don't start from our home in East(ish) Boulder. I also have a much more enjoyable and lucrative source of primary income than I did a year ago, which is the sort of thing that tends to happen when you have low-to-modest career aspirations (to me, not having to be around other humans while I work is not a perk but a requirement), have stopped pouring booze into the anus in the middle of your face, and have a have a decent flair for marketing whatever professional skills you've managed to develop and retain despite routinely applying a flamethrower to your own efforts.

When I set out on this journey, I did not have a fixed itinerary, with the only confirmed stops being the house of the same friend in Indiana on the way east and the house of same buddy in Iowa on the way back west. I was strongly considering swinging through Roanoke, Virginia, where I lived for a couple of years and enjoyed some great running circa 2003, and heading either north or south from there before starting the return leg. But the one-two punch of multiple automotive troubles resulting from the same incident and an off-putting experience in Indiana in the final days of March made even uglier by those car woes had me thinking while I was still in Bloomington that I'd be headed back to Boulder as soon as I got my headlight fixed. Boulder can be a maddening place even for someone who is untroubled by the fact that American society even on its best day is an irredeemable shambles, but it's my home now, and Rosie's as well, and the more I imagined motoring through a bunch of uninviting land-patches mostly for the sake of motoring, the more alluring the notion of lounging around on the Front Range became.

As it happened, I kept driving east after I got the headlight replaced, which cost me a modest $149. That was on March 5, and I'm still in Virginia, in no hurry to get home, though when the time comes I won't be thrilled to have to drive across the country's flabby, shit-encrusted midsection again.

Monday, April 22, 2019

I have favorite things

Alert readers may have noticed that I use this blog mainly to complain -- about me, you and whatever garbage lies between. I've made every effort to eviscerate myself and my own pitiful endeavors in the same unflinching, corrosive language I've devoted to other broken and failed people, places and institutions. This a challenging balance to strike, because many of my targets have proven so dismal that I struggle to find instances in which I -- even at my most malicious, ignorant and incompetent -- have performed as badly as they have.

Part of my silence lately is owed to having a discouragingly low quantity of irritants in my midst. Car issues made the long drive to the Appalachians stressful, but I got that stuff taken care of and am now ready to drive in a fully damaging way again, and burn as much gas as I can in the process.

As a result, while I continue to add to a post to sum up my road trip with Rosie (we're on day 33, happily winding up the Virginia leg of the journey at my cousins' place), I feel as if this is a good time to emphasize some things in the running world I like a great deal, or at least did back when I was misguided enough to consider anything in the running world important enough to actually rank on quality lists.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Outside invoice clock is ticking

It appears that remarking on the continued passivity of the most unprofessional editor I've ever worked with was sufficient to accomplish what my initial series of complaints about my dealings with Outside could not: I finally got a direct response. At the end of the day on Friday, the traditional time for cowards to do things they desperately wish they could ignore altogether, she sent me this e-mail:

Hi Kevin,

I wanted to circle back here and let you know that we've decided to kill this piece. As I mentioned in my previous emails, it still needs more work in order to be publishable for us, and given the emails I've received from you in recent months I'm not convinced we'll be able to work together on the necessary edits to get there. I never take the decision to kill a story lightly, and I completely understand that the long wait time on this piece was frustrating. If you send me an invoice for 1/3 of the original rate (our standard kill fee), I'll submit for your payment, and you can feel free to take the story elsewhere if you like.


Where to even start? I guess my response to her is as good a place to circle back to as any.

Hi Molly,

Rather than waste more time litigating every dishonest observation and presumption you managed to pack into a one-paragraph e-mail, I'll settle for being relieved that this fiasco is officially over. Besides, you've taken zero responsibility for your assorted screw-ups with up this project, so I wouldn't expect you to start now, and I doubt you do more than scan my messages at this point since you already know how you'll respond.

My invoice is attached, although given your accounting department's reputation and the fact that I'm 49, I'll probably be dead before the check arrives (not that the money was ever an important aspect of this).

As you can see, she didn't admit that she had already seen me take the story off the table and describe in florid and irrefutable detail the events that had compelled me to do this, which I would bet any amount of money is true. So I didn't either, taking this as permission to keep it up. But if she had merely told me, "We've decided not to run the piece" and left it at that, without even offering a kill fee, I would not be writing this. But trying to pin the blame for this on me was a bad idea. So here goes.