Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Secret Language of Runners

On Friday night, my cousin Emily and her on-again/off-again boyfriend Stephen came down. We all ran a 5K road race on Saturday morning. Emily & I used to run all the time, and now every few months we'll get really excited about some race, talk about signing up, and then find 100 reasons to justify why we can't run it. When we do find a race and actually run it, more often than not we'll get misty eyed with nostalgia and vow that we're going to start running religiously once again. That feeling wears off by the time we've eaten our fifth post-race bagel. Part of what we like about running road races isn't the running at all, but everything else that is a part of that subculture.

Like most subcultures, running has its own language. You know you're a serious runner when you can say "fartlek" without giggling. In addition to sharing the language, we also share a lot of the pre-race rituals. My favorite ritual has to be the pre-race dump. That's right, taking a dump. Having a poo. Dropping the kids off at the pool. It's not really the act itself that I find so rewarding, but it's the moments between the dump and the firing of the start gun that I feel a sort of nirvana, confident that I will not shit my pants at mile 2. That sort of thing works for Uta Pippig when she's winning the Boston Marathon, but doesn't get met with the same sort of social acceptance when a 200 pound back-of-the-packer does it during a measly 3 mile race.

At the race yesterday, about 20 minutes prior to the start, Emily & I were lined up at the port-a-potties. A girl came out of one of the stalls, walked up to her friends, gave them a defeated shrug and said, "I got nothing." Emily and I stifled our laughter and shook our heads. Doesn't she know we all speak the same language here? Hey lady, we just cracked your code! Then it was my turn, the last big push before the start of the race, literally. Sadly, just like our friend announced moments before, I got nothing. I walked over to Emily & Stephen and told them I thought I just did more harm than good. "What do you mean?" they said, to which I replied, "I just moved it to the starting line and left it there." Now, that, my friends, is proper code.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

On Blogging

Before I had a blog, I pretty much agreed with this guy:


Exercise Superhero

Sometimes when I exercise, I get motivated by pretending I'm a superhero. I don't try to do this, but rather, I think the adrenaline creates a false sense of importance in my brain. I like when this happens, because it's like a free movie staring ME! and it also takes my mind off the act of exercising.

This morning I wasn't so much of a superhero as I was Dance Champion of the World. The weather's been crappy lately, zapping any and all motivation I have for going outside to exercise. So, I dusted off my Dance Dance Revolution pad and played DDRMAX on the Playstation. For those that don't know what this is, it's a dancing game where you step on arrows on a pad (think Nintendo Power Pad) that correspond to the arrows that are shown on the screen. If you're good, it looks like you're dancing. If you're bad, you look like your leg fell asleep and you're trying to stomp on an ant hill. After about 10 minutes of stomping around ("Thank God you don't have downstairs neighbors", says my cousin Emily) the adrenaline starts pumping and suddenly I'm in an arcade, battling it out in a head-to-head DDR match with some young whippersnapper. There is a crowd around us, people have been watching for hours. When I first accepted the challenge to battle the DDR King of the Arcade, people gasped. Others stiffled an embarrassed laughter. Fat women in the crowd shouted, "You go Girl!" Now I'm dancing my way to victory and this 16-year old pimple-faced twerp is crying for mercy. Inevitably, people carry me out of the arcade on their shoulders, shouting my name and throwing roses at me.

My superhero fantasy happens when I run. I used to run along the Charles River in Cambridge. As I approached the Mass Ave. bridge, I'd envision an infant being flung over the rail into the dirty water below. My instincts would kick in and I would do a perfect swan dive into the raging river and surface triumphantly with the infant. Sometimes the infant would cry out, alerting his frantic mother above above that he was ok. Other times, he wouldn't respond, and then I'd have to swim to shore, holding the infant over my head, and then perform CPR on him, ultimately saving his life. Inevitably, people would carry me down Memorial Drive on their shoulders, shouting my name, and throwing roses at me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Oops, I'm a slut.

I thought I'd kick off my blog with one of my favorite stories. Throughout my college years, I worked at JP Licks, an ice cream shop in Coolidge Corner. During the frigid winter months, there was barely enough work to keep one person busy, so I was often there working alone. If someone had told me when I was 12 that I'd be spending 8 hours a day alone in an ice cream shop, I would have peed my pants with glee, but somehow it just wasn't that exciting when it came to be. Anyway, that's not the story. The story is that one cold, lonely day, I was working by myself. A couple came in and ordered a frappe. We had this metal cup of water that we used to clean the frappe machine. In my haste to clean the frappe machine and deliver this frappe to them in a timely manner, I accidentally knocked over the metal cup that was holding the grungy frappe water. They were the only two people in the store, and clearly all eyes were on me at this point. Already embarrassed by making a mess, I tried to make light of the situation by making a little joke. Now, I don't know if it was being alone in the ice cream shop all day, or if it was just my general social awkwardness, but something got screwed up between my brain and my lips. I was thinking of saying "I'm a slob" or "I'm such a clutz" since both were appropriate, but what came out was, "I'm such a slut." The couple looked at me blankfaced and I stood there staring back like a deer in headlights, wondering if I really just told this couple that I was slut, completely out of context. The next thing out of my mouth wasn't supposed to be funny, but now that I look back, I think this part's funny too. The next thing I said to them was, "$3.95 please." Not only am I a slut, but apparantly I'm a cheap slut too.