Thursday, March 25, 2004

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Remember A Flock of Seagulls? I saw them last night at a warmup run for The Nike Run Hit Wonder. The band performed at the Third Street Promenade to promote the 10K/5K.

I got there too late to get some freebies Nike was giving out, but others were wearing "Groupie" dri-fit T-shirts, and "Flock" wigs – hairpieces in that whacky '80s style.

To quote the VH1 show, I love the '80s. Maybe it was because I was young and the world seemed full of possibilities. And I liked everything about the pop culture – the clothes, the movies, the TV, and the music. Sure, some things seemed cheesy, but that's what made it fun.

Like A Flock of Seagulls. They'll be playing at the race.

They played at last year's race, too. I can tell you, hearing their appropriately-titled hit, "I Ran" while you're dashing along is great.

But -- hearing it while you're standing around on a crowded street, waiting to run, as it's getting colder and darker… not so great. Maybe the sound system was bad, maybe it was because they were older and less whacky-looking, maybe it was me getting old and cranky, or maybe one basic fact was unavoidable: A Flock of Seagulls flockin' sucks.

OK, maybe not, but... I realized I never really liked them that much twenty years ago. In the early '80s, I was listening to Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard and The Clash. There was an occasional New Wave tune that I appreciated. To me, "Let's Go to Bed" was the only tolerable song by The Cure.

Should I feel bad for not enjoying the Flock's free gig? And that lead singer dude – how many times does he have to play that song? Is he happy to celebrate his one-hit wonder as exactly that? Many questions ran through my head as my group ran through Santa Monica.

Still I'm looking forward to the race, and hope I won't be similarly disappointed by the headliner, Devo. Last night, I had a good time hanging out, chatting with my runner friends during the concert and after the run. One thing I'm fairly sure about: I'll think this was all pretty cool twenty years from now.

Nostalgia will be even better then.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Today's advice:

#1: Don't answer the phone during Survivor, even if you're taping it. If you're like me, you'll keep watching while you're talking, and not give your full attention anywhere. You could rewind the tape, but once you've seen who's voted off, who cares?

#2: Pay attention to when Survivor is airing. If you're like me, you'll miss an episode when they move it to a different night because of March Madness or whatever.

#3: Please, don't tell me to get TiVo. I'd just end up spending $ and watching more TV. But yes, I know – it would solve my Survivor problems.

#4: Don't discuss politics with the personal trainers at the gym. They tend to be former military guys – hence extremely conservative – and muscleheads – hence, well, stupid. Keep the conversation about fitness. At least that's an area they know what they're talking about. But more importantly, if they were to take a disagreement too personally, they could easily kick your ass.

#5: Don't order a chicken curry salad at Solley's Deli. Trust me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Pinch me.

Not because I'm dreaming. It's because I forgot to wear green on St. Patrick's Day. I have three changes of clothes with me, and I don't think there's any jade, olive or kerry in the whole wardrobe.

Why do I have so much clothes, you ask? Well, since I didn't feel like doing anything yesterday, I'm doing it all today.

I got up at 5:30AM, and grabbed briefcase and my two gymbags of clothes – one has my work attire, the other my running gear. I left the house in a T-shirt and shorts, and got to the Starbucks by 6:15. I read a little (Da Vinci Code – very good so far) as I waited for my Red Eye to kick in. (That's a large coffee with a few shots of espresso in it. Since they don't sell nitroglycerin to get my heart started, it's the next best thing.) Then I got some good writing done (love my new laptop) for an hour and a half, and only quit because I had to feed the meter at 8AM (not to mention go to the bathroom by then). So I swung over to the gym, and pumped some iron for an hour. (They played that '80s song "AEIOU Sometimes Y" on the stereo. Remember that one?) Then I showered and changed into my greenless garb and took off to work.

Then I do some mindless sheeite for 8 hours or so… I'm supposed to be sending out some agreement, but I'm writing this instead. Whatta slacker.

Tonight, I'll rush back to Santa Monica, changing in the car during the traffic stops. (When the lights turn green, my clothes still won't be.) Then I'll join the group from Niketown and do a 5 mile run. I'll try to keep up with the 8-minute mile crew, but the pace leaders will probably get us back in like 37 minutes. I would explain some simple multiplication to them, that 5 times 8 doesn't equal… ahh, forget it. I'm too out of breath to say anything.

They do these runs on Wednesdays at Yankee Doodles where they have some snacky bar food and free drinks. So I'll probably get a head start on St. Patty's boozing there, before meeting up with some friends. (I'll probably change back into my work clothes, if I don't get to go home and shower again. So yes, I'll be stinking even before I'm stinking drunk.) Throwing back a few after a run is great, because the alcohol hits me hard and early, rather than just slog in my cells and slur my speech all night.

But still, I’m expecting to get very tired very quickly. People wonder why I'm so exhausted – I do this kind of regiment several days a week. That's why I walk around like a zombie half the time. (But not the flesh-eating zombies in the new "Dawn of the Dead" – I saw that the other night. Scary stuff, man!)

So if you see me this St. Patrick's Day, feel free to punish me for my lack of Irish attire.

Please, pinch me. I need to stay awake.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I didn't feel like doing anything today.

Didn't feel like running, working out, writing, reading, having breakfast, picking up my cleaning, calling back my friends. Didn't even feel like sleeping.

I didn't really feel like blogging anything either.

But now the day's not a total waste.

Friday, March 05, 2004

The L.A. Marathon is this Sunday. I'm not running it.

I probably run enough to do it, even finish in a fairly respectable time, maybe even under 4 and a half hours. But I don't wanna.

I like running. I like the exercise, the fresh air, the feeling of getting stronger and faster and watching the scenery in the fancy homes of Beverly Hills or the weirdos at Venice Beach. Yeah, I really like running. For up to two hours. Then it just sucks.

I trained for the Chicago Marathon last fall. I was determined to do better than the LA Marathon which I had run two years in a row, several years ago. I figured the only reason I shouldn't do as well in Chicago was that I was a few years older. Otherwise, I was stronger, faster, lighter, and had trained longer and smarter. Also, Chicago is completely flat; in L.A., we ran several miles north toward Hollywood… on foot you realize why the street is called Highland Avenue.

So I did Chicago in 3:56, beating my four-hour LA time. Sure, that's great, but… only four minutes faster? I was hoping to do 3:45, or better. I felt proud of my accomplishment and all, but I just don't know if I'd do it again.

What happened was the same thing that happened both times in LA. I was cruising along, going fast but pacing myself, not letting my heart rate go to high. And then, around mile 20, my legs turned to concrete. I expected to "hit the wall", but I was hoping it wouldn't happen 'til later. When you've got 2 or 3 miles left, you can push past the pain. When you've got another 7 miles – which takes about an hour to run, when you're feeling good – that's a really hard wall to bust through. It was like a battle within my body. The upper half was fine. My heart, lungs and brain were yelling, "Let's go!" But my legs said, "Screw you, pal."

Through sheer will-power I finished in a decent time, but it was hardly a happy stroll through Chi-town. I remember how at mile 7, they were playing the theme from "Pulp Fiction" on a loudspeaker and the music spurred me on. At mile 23, I heard another inspirational song and thought, "Oh the theme from 'Rocky'. Anyway…. Ow, my quads are killing me." The last mile took me 12 minutes to run. If I had crawled, I think it would've been faster.

I've been running shorter distances, and having a lot more success at it. 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons. My times have been getting better and better, often to my surprise. Y'know how for years, people thought the 4-minute mile was unbeatable, until Roger Bannister came along? Well, I'm like that… only twice as slow. I'm finding I can do sub-8 minute miles, maybe even sub-7 someday… for a 10K.

Perhaps in another post, I'll tell some stories of these competitions, like the schmuck who hit me in the middle of the run, and made me determined to kick his ass… at least in the race. In the meantime, I tried to paste a table of my geeky listing of the last ten races I've done. But I'm not enough of a geek to know how to get the table to format legibly in this blog, so forget it for now. Trust me, I'm getting faster.

Many of my running friends are getting ready for LA, and I'm a little jealous I'm not doing it. I asked a few experienced runners how to prevent the cramping I get after 2 hours, and they offered several suggestions, but one piece of advice was unanimous: run more. Like, double my mileage.

I don't have the time or energy for that. I'm doing well at these races, I'm in shape… why kill myself? Because of guilt-inducing articles like this? (Don't know if that link will work. But I know the guy in the picture; Tyrone's a pace leader at the Niketown runs. And he's fast.)

Maybe as the weather gets better, maybe if I have more free time, I'll start training for the Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego this June, or the New York Marathon in November, or the Chicago Marathon again. For now, I'm just planning to do the Run Hit Wonder and Santa Anita Derby Day races again.

And maybe this Sunday, I'll root some of my friends on as they race 26.2 miles through Hollywood and Downtown L.A. Or maybe I'll just be sleeping in.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Today's hype:

Elmore Leonard and J.K. Rowling

I just finished each of their latest books and man, they're good. After last night's Oscar hoopla —with a buncha movies I didn't see nor am particularly interested in – thank goodness there's still enjoyable books out there. (Yes, yes, Lord of the Rings was based on that beloved tome. But while at the Academy it made a sweep, at the theatre, it'd make me sleep. So maybe I'll read Tolkien someday, but I'm still steering clear of watching Viggo and Orlando prancing through precious New Zealand.)

"Mr. Paradise", Elmore's newest, isn't his best (I've read about 15 of his 40 novels), but it still was fun. The story features a cop investigating a double homicide, the murder of an old man and his escort who dresses up as a cheerleader while he watches tapes of University of Michigan football games. That's the selling point of the book, but I loved the dim police informant who thinks the two hit men looking to wrap up loose ends are cops working the beat. And the defense attorney who moonlights as an agent for hired killers. I've never been to Detroit, but based on EL's stuff, there must be a lot of humor to cull from gritty Motown.

And the Harry Potter books get better each time. OK, actually, I think the first, third and fifth are the best. So following that pattern, the seventh and last installment's gonna be amazing. And probably 2000 pages. I know the kids ate up "HP and the Order of the Phoenix" when it came out last summer, but it took me a while. Not only because it was so long, but I was reluctant to lug around this bowling-ball of a book. Now that I have, all I can say is wow. The world she's set up is so complex and yet completely relatable. There's a deepness to all the characters, and poor Harry, going through all the rage and hormonal confusion of being fifteen, plus the extra burden of Lord Voldemort out to destroy him and threaten the wizarding world.

Anyway, I was never any good at book reports – just thought I'd mention this. People everywhere strike up conversations when they see me w/my Leonard books ("Oh, he wrote 'Get Shorty'? I loved that!"), and especially Harry Potter. So if you wanna make some friends, or at least get in some good reading, pick up one of these.

Next is The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. Everyone's read that one.

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