Friday, July 29, 2011

Maggot Zero: How Not to Run

Big Changes are afoot in my professional life, and they are sucking up all of my time. Not a move but a major redirection, and I’ve been struggling with a) do I want this opportunity (that was a big yes) and b) how do I make it happen without disappointing too many people and killing myself in the transition (that was a big HAHAHA, good luck with that!).

I have a couple of balls in the air here at the blog, and they will have to stay suspended for the time being. Instead, I am bringing you a real treat: A special guest post from the best blogger who doesn’t blog, Maggot Zero! She was the person who inspired my very first Maggot post, and she has been running ever since — while ignoring half of my advice. I present her to you as a combination precautionary/inspiring success story (her whole life is kind of like that, in fact).

How Not to Run
by Maggot Zero
You know the scene in every war movie where the hard-nosed drill sergeant informs his recruits that they’re “the worst goddamned group of sorry-ass maggots I’ve ever seen”? I usually roll my eyes and think, “Dude, you probably say that to EVERY group of recruits. Statistically speaking, most new recruits are probably of a comparable level of sorry-ass-itude!” (Yes, I can suck the fun out of a movie like the last few drops of Dr Pepper from an $8 soda.)
When it comes to running, though, I AM the worst goddamned sorry-ass maggot that Sarge has ever seen. I am the sneaker-clad equivalent of the guy who somehow manages to discharge an M16 into the base commander’s Jeep during the second week of basic training. But if my long, colorful history of running mishaps is good for anything — other than delighting my friends, family and people who happen to be driving by as I accidentally inhale gnats and stagger into shrubs — it is as a cautionary tale for YOU, dear Maggots. For the benefit of freshly-minted runners throughout the blogosphere, I present: How NOT to Run.
  • Go Too Fast. Completely ignore DoctorMama’s wise, oft-stated advice to begin running at an embarrassingly slow pace — surely that maxim does not apply to YOU! (Spoiler alert: oh, yes it does.) Despite having no prior athletic experience, rip up and down the streets like a rocket-propelled blancmange. Develop excruciating shin splints. Treat said shin splints by alternating between sprinting and hobbling. Surely THAT is every bit as valid a running technique as “slow and steady,” right? ... right?

  • Refuse to Accept Constructive Criticism. Let’s say you’re a bit ... ungainly. You fall up stairs. You walk into parked cars. You may be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul, but someone ELSE is the captain of your body, and they have a drinking problem and/or some neurological issues. Nonetheless, assume that you know EXACTLY how you should be running. When your friends and family attempt to provide feedback (“I never realized that running looked like ... that”), become extremely hurt and offended. Reschedule your runs for 11:00 PM, when there are fewer souls present to witness your spastic lurching. Several years later, realize that everyone was right. Accept that you have spent years not “running,” per se, but “doing a rapid, horizontally-mobile version of The Robot.” Cry.

  • Don’t Watch Where You’re Going. Run when it’s dark out. On cracked and buckled sidewalks. Adjust your MP3 player constantly. Get distracted by interesting [foliage/constellations/toads]. At least once per week, snag your toe on something, lose your balance and find yourself in a sudden, bloody embrace with the concrete.

  • Don’t Dress Appropriately. Wear all-cotton clothing ... as the commercials say, Cotton is the Fabric of Our Lives. The hot, thick, chafing, poorly-breathable, sweat-accumulating, non-drying fabric. Spend your entire run tugging various folds of sweat-soaked cotton off and/or out of your body’s various nooks and crannies. Between that, the spastic lurching and your impressive collection of road rash scabs, you are TOTALLY HAWT.

  • Don’t Stay Hydrated. Drink nothing the day of your run. Fifteen minutes prior to the run itself, chug a can of warm diet root beer, or possibly a spoonful of icing from the half-empty can in the fridge if no root beer is available.

  • You Know What Might Make a Good Pre-Run Snack? A Dozen Spicy Chicken Wings! Because while there are many reasons to run — for fun, for sport, for your physical and/or mental health — none of them are quite as compelling as “because you’re one agonizing gut-cramp away from accidentally fertilizing your neighbor’s hyacinths.”
The morals I draw from this story?
  1. Listen to me, damn it.
  2. If Maggot Zero is still running after five years of this nonsense, you can run too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Buy This Book!

More than two years ago, one of my dearest friends was at a critical point in the writing of her second novel: she needed readers to critique it. Do I have some articulate readers for you! I said. I put up a request here, got an avalanche of offers, hooked her up with many of them, and now:

Buy this book, not least because you helped write it (the “anonymous readers at” are acknowledged in it!).
It’s also a fantastic book.
Christina was my very first running partner. We have over the years shared spectacular runs in Eastern Europe, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, the Catskills — and many runs that were unremarkable except in that they gave us a precious chance to talk. Christina is the sort of friend who can say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. When I was fretting over whether I should be seeing TH — was I supposed to fool around with someone six years younger who was not looking for marriage? She said, “Forget about what other people think you should do. Have fun.” So if not for her … And Christina is another battle-scarred veteran of the infertility wars; she helped me through that process. Then when HB was a newborn, I recall sitting in bed sobbing, failing miserably at nursing this wailing alien, and Christina called. She efficiently diagnosed the problem and gently reassured me that I was neither insane nor a failure. She was and is a lifeline.
Children and work, and my dislike of the phone, have kept us from hanging out in recent years, and one of my post-small-child fantasies is that I will spend a lot more time sitting in her kitchen drinking one of her ubiquitous cups of tea.
Coming up: an interview with the author! Anything in particular you’d like me to ask her?