Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I asked my brother tonight if our Dad had a heart attack. He said that, yes, that's what they consider it.

It hadn't really occurred to me today when I was talking with my mom and sister that he had a heart attack. I didn't even ask. Somehow I just thought it was chest pains. But chest pains don't require non-invasive surgeries and stents. Heart attacks do.

I guess I'm a little bit freaked out and scattered by this whole thing. My Dad is going to be fine, thankfully. There's little to no damage to his heart muscle because of this incident. He's in the hospital, where he watched the State of the Union tonight.

It's just hard to be 1,596 miles (but who's counting?) from home when things go sideways with your family or friends. Except for blogging about it this morning I didn't tell anyone today. I feel comfortable writing about it, but I just don't want to talk about it.

Today: 60 minutes on the bike
Wednesday: 60 minutes on treadmill

Tuesday morning nervous energy

My laundry is done. My dishes are washed and put away. My living room is picked up and organized.

I've been up since 9. I could hear my phone vibrating as I was waking up. When I finally looked at the display it read: 7 missed messages.
My brother left me two messages saying our dad had been hospitalized and had a "procedure" to unblock one of the arteries near his heart. Apparently he had 100 percent blockage in the artery. He complained about some pain at 8 p.m. yesterday, but then it went away. He woke up at 2 a.m. today and my mom drove him to the emergency room.

So, my family is at the St. Cloud hospital right now. Dad's finished with the procedure and just resting. They are conducting tests and making sure things are okay. He might be able to walk tomorrow, and possibly go home in a few days, according to my mom.

I promised myself when I started this blog that it wouldn't be an open diary for my friends and family. I didn't want to air my dirty laundry or share all my secrets and thoughts with anyone with a computer and my blog address. But I decided I needed to share this.

(Left to right in the photo: my cousin Kyle, me, Dad. Snapped a week ago.)

Yesterday: 60 minutes on the stationary bike
Today: 60 minutes more on the bike
Tomorrow: 60 minutes on the treadmill

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Create your own Simpsons character


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Linkety link link

I am tired, and my legs are sore, but I got it done today.

-Got up at 6:30 a.m.
-Ran eight miles with the training group in Olympia
-Had cellphone chats with four people I hadn't spoke with in a while
-Ate lunch with Twin Cities friend, and Seattle resident, Kate. We hadn't seen each other since June or July. Too long, dammit! (I've added her blog -- and others -- to the links on the side.)
-Bought the new Gossip record. So far, so good. Looking forward to seeing them in Olympia and/or Tacoma next weekend
-Big plans to stay in tonight and watch whatever's on On-Demand

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tacoma, looking east

I wish it was sunny here more often because this is what it looks like. My apartment is two blocks south of the the high-rise farthest to the right.

Mount Rainier sort of looms like the Death Star on clear days here. Take that, Seattle.

(Note: This photo is from 1984, but mountains don't change much in 20 years. Thanks, Google Images!)

Lessons learned today:
1. There are no good record stores in Tacoma. Seriously. I can't find the new Gossip record ... and they're on the Olympia-based Kill Rock Stars label. C'mon!
2. If I have the option, I need to run when it isn't raining instead of waiting until later in the day. It always rains when I do this.

Today: 4-mile run outside
Tomorrow: 8-mile run with the group in Olympia

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Family Ties

This is my great-aunt Alice, one of the relatives I saw on my brief L.A. visit last weekend. She's 93 or 94 (I can't remember) and still lives on her own in Burbank. The first time I met her in my adult life, five years ago, she drove from her house all the way to her daughter's place in L.A. On those crazy freeways.
She worked for the L.A. Times for a long time, which we talked about a little bit at our lunch Saturday.
I hadn't given much thought to this side of my mom's family (the McNichols/Dorans) before I connected with them in January 2001. I knew most of the family lived in southern California, and that I had met them before I was old enough to remember it.
My grandma, Alice's sister, died 10 years ago today. Jan. 26, 1996. Rita Brinkman was like a second mom to me. I never lived more than five miles away from her my entire life. She hated tomatoes, but didn't mind day old coffee. She watched Meet the Press, Face the Nation and the McLaughlin Group. She thought Ronald Reagan was a bad actor, and an even worse president.
All of this must have rubbed off on me.
She was all about family and togetherness, and I think she would have been really pleased about the relationships I've forged with our California family.
I know I am.

Wednesday: Ran 60 minutes on a treadmill
Thursday: 60-90 power walk

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

IT Band 2: My knee is healed! Sort of.

When I finished running eight miles on a treadmill the other day I noticed right away that something was wrong. Or rather I noticed right away that something wasn't wrong: my left knee felt fine.

I've been running outside on concrete and asphalt since July, and I've had the IT band problems since September. This treadmill development is welcome.

I can use the exercise room at work anytime I want, but unfortunately it means more work than just getting out of bed and running from my front door. It means driving and showing a badge and punching a pass code and running/looking like I'm in extreme pain in the presence of people I work with.

But if I can use the treadmill on Wednesdays, that means running only once a week (!) outside in the Saturday group runs. And that means my knee might hold up for the marathon.

I just realized this post is very boring. Deal with it.

Today: 45 minutes of cycling.
Tomorrow: 60 minutes of running, possibly on a treadmill

Monday, January 23, 2006

Random over analyzation of Spin magazine. Or, can you tell I flew today?

I'm back in T-Town. I flew out of L.A. this morning, took a shower when I got home and went straight to work.

I am very tired, and I'm probably going to fall asleep as soon as Leno's done with Headlines. (Yes, I watch Leno. Only on Mondays for about 10 minutes as he reads crazy headlines, etc. Otherwise, it's one of the most consistently unwatchable shows on TV. Especially the monologue.)

I picked up the new issue of Spin, the one with the Strokes on the cover. Dan left me a message saying there was a little blurb on Paul Westerberg talking about how he bought a guitar at Wal-Mart because it's "cheap, loud and flashy, just like rock 'n roll ought to be." I guess that was worth the $3.99, plus tax.

But what the hell happened to this magazine? Ten years ago it was full of long-ish pieces on rock and related stuff like Scandanavian death metal and the war on drugs. There were a ton of record reviews, and many of them were also pretty long.

Now, it's physically smaller, and all the articles are short and have boxes with fun facts(!!). The writing is sorta ho-hum, and the subject matter seems kind of stale. A Fiona Apple live review? A (very) brief oral history of the Beastie Boys tour with Madonna? I dunno, it's like Spin has become Mojo-lite: fun to look at, but reinforcing all your long-standing musical likes and beliefs. Cat Power? Brilliant. Any mainstream rock recorded between 1997 and 2001? Bad.

And what is the deal with gaunt, sleeve-less guy in the Strokes? He's looks like some anonymous "rock" guy who plays in a Guns and Roses cover band (but also covers Buckcherry because, you know, that one song is totally awesome). I guess I haven't been paying attention for the past five years, but I just don't remember him. Does he play guitar? Did he just wander into the photo shoot?

One thing I do like about the "new" Spin: Chuck Klosterman's writing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I am in Los Angeles, Calif.

I'm sitting in a 11th-story hotel room in Culver City watching traffic on the 405. I can see downtown L.A., what I think is Westwood and the Hollywood Hills. I can't see any clouds, and it's 64 degrees.

Hell yes.

I'm here until early Monday morning with my parents. We're visiting my great-aunt and cousins, who live in and around the city, this weekend. My parents have some sort of business conference in Newport Beach this week. Yep, the same Newport Beach on The O.C. (By the way, the O.C. on Thursday seemed kind of desperate bringing in Marissa's jailbait little sister. Desperate but awesome. Also, the episode had the best part of all good O.C. episodes: a big party by somebody's pool. It wasn't quite as surreal as Melrose Place, but it was as close to that fine, fine show as the O.C. has been in a while.)

Yesterday: walked on the beach in Santa Monica for about an hour and half
Today: ran eight miles on a treadmill in the hotel's "fitness center" while watching City Slickers

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It's an entire city surrounded by reality, you know

It's funny how much an unexpected phone call can make your afternoon.

My phone rang about five minutes after I arrived at work today.

Caller: Hi Paul. This is Mary in Washington.
Me: (Silent)
Caller: D.C.
Me: Oh, hi!

I worked with Mary at my last job. She's the office manager and den mother to a group of brilliant, frazzled men and women. She watches Young and the Restless and Oprah everyday on a 4-inch TV that sits on her desk. She reads every inch of the New York tabloids. She's proud of her son, who moved back to D.C. from Chicago last year. And she loves American Idol.

A lot.

We used to discuss it with great intensity. We sat near each other, but we'd usually stand by her desk or my office door and talk about who we were rooting for and why and how she hated Simon. It was awesome.

I lose steam when the judges whittle the show down to 16 people, and then tune again in when it's down to eight or four or whatever. Mary keeps on going, following her favorite. (Last year it was Scott, the rotund Ohioan who sported some thin, angular facial hair.)

Anyway, she called today to ask if I had turned in the access key to the office. I told her that I had. We talked about the rainy weather and the marathon, and that was it. But it made me really happy for a few hours.

This morning: ran six miles
Right now: waiting for my dryer cycle to finish
Tomorrow: walk 60-90 minutes

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sixteen minutes with Paul. Or, I am magic!

Sounds like a few a you are familiar with the IT band pains, including a "Michelle" who left a comment on my last post. If you're the Michelle of Albany High School fame -- the same one whose machine shed we used to drink in during post-prom and post-graduation parties -- please, please, please post another comment and let me know. And if you're not that Michelle, well, welcome to the blog. I'm Paul.

I'm watching the premiere of Love Monkey on CBS. It's kind of weak. It has that dude from Ed, and so far he's name checked the Clash, Aretha Franklin and Dylan. (It's like a lame-o, TV-ready High Fidelity, I guess.) He was just hanging out in CBGBs with some other guy, playing guitar. Do we really need another show about a confused, lovelorn guy with a cute (okay, super cute) blond best friend, who we all know he'll eventually fall in love with? Not really. Why am I even writing about this? What do you guys think?

The power walking that I've been doing for my cross training has been kind of awesome. My legs are sore because I've been walking down the hill to old town Tacoma, by the water (think Duluth's lake walk) and then back up the hill. It's nice to be outside, moving, and not be completely sweaty and spent when I'm done.

I've got Sunday off from work. I'm using my "wellness" day that the company gives employees who use less than six hours of sick time in the preceding six months. Anyway, I'm going on a little adventure, and I hope to take the Inspiron and use my travel companions' camera to post some pictures.

Tomorrow: 60 minutes of running, and probably a little bit of laundry after work.

Monday, January 16, 2006

This has been a pretty good day off

I've accomplished only one thing today on my mental list of stuff to do, but this has been a pretty good day off. I think I'm most excited to have my computer back. It might sound bratty, but I'm a little bit scattered without it to check the news, write emails, etc. Let's hope it stays fixed.

I don't get up much before 9:30 or 10 a.m. most days because I don't work until the afternoon. So, I was a tired and unshowered for the first marathon training session, which started at 8:30 a.m. 30 miles away in Olympia. It was held at some sort of community center for old folks, and the brief introductory lecture was given in the building's tiny little gym -- complete with kick balls stuck in the rafters.

Most people were chatty beforehand, asking things like, "Have you ever run a marathon before?" and "What's the farthest you've ever run?" But many had sort of a grim look when the running store owner, who's sponsoring the five months of training, started talking.

Prepare to run or cross-train six days a week, he said.
Be here promptly at 8 a.m. every Saturday until mid-May, he said.
Get ready for some *long* runs like April 29's 22-mile barn burner, he said.

I'm probably the youngest person in the training group, so the pressure is on. If the 60-year-old dude with the full head of gray hair can hang with the training, I sure as hell should, too.

There's one little problem that I haven't mentioned here yet: I've got some sort of weird, seemingly minor, knee injury. It's called Iliotibal Band Syndrome (IT Band for short), and I've been to the doctor for it. Basically, it causes me a dull, aching pain on the outside of my left knee after a couple miles. New shoes have helped, but it still hurts.

I mentioned my IT band problems to the head trainer and he didn't seem too pleased. I've decided to run only twice a week and power walk the other four days. It jibes with the training schedule.

It's sort of a let down to be walking 60-90 minutes four times a week to get in shape to run a marathon, but that's cool if it's the only way I can do it.

Back so soon?

A DHL delivery man just dropped off my repaired laptop. Hurray! It took less than a week for Dell to fix it.

I'll post this afternoon or tonight about Saturday's training session and other cool things.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Please limit your use to 15 minutes while other patrons are waiting.

So, I'm here, live, from Tacoma's central library in the famed Hilltop neighborhood. You might remember it from the Bloods versus the Crips rivalry 1987-1992. Anyway, it's only a couple blocks from the County-City building where the sheriff's office is, so I'm feeling okay about being here. Plus, there's a kick-ass teriyaki place across the street that I dig a lot.

I ran 10 miles this morning. It wasn't raining when I left my apartment, but started about four miles into it. It's day 26, I think, of measurable rain here in western Washington, and I'm just praying for sunshine of any sort. Maybe just a dry day would cheer me up.

I'm going to help my friend John move sometime today, and then I hope to start planning Neil's bachelor party, which will be in March. His wedding is in June. I can't wait.

One last thing before I go: I wanted to write about the James Frey/Million Little Pieces controversy. I was turned onto the book from a positive review in the Onion's AV Club, and was floored after reading it about three years ago. But even though it was billed as a non-fiction memoir, I never quite bought 100 percent of everything that he wrote. I also didn't care if it was 100 percent true. Dave Eggers' first book, a "memoir", changed the way I wrote and the way I thought about things, but I didn't believe all of it. I love Augusten Burroughs books, but I don't believe all of what he writes. Ditto on some Chuck Klosterman stuff.

These authors have partially fictionalized their lives to make them fit the narrative structure they have in their minds. And probably to make their lives seem more interesting. I have no problem with this.

When Oprah picked Frey's book for her book club I was surprised. It's a gritty portrayal of a guy who's really lost his way, screwed up his life and ended up at Minnesota's lovely Halzenden rehab center. I gave her a lot of credit for picking the book and introducing it to a wider audience that likely wouldn't have picked it up -- ever.

So, I'm not upset with Frey because I never believed the book was 100 percent true. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the only reason people care about this is because Oprah's now attached to it.

I'll try not to trip on my soapbox on the way out.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My Inspiron goes to Memphis

I'm sending my laptop to Dell to be repaired -- again. They replaced its motherboard -- yep, I do know how expensive that is -- back in July, but it's up to its old tricks. The Dell customer service guy told me they'd pay for the part, but not the labor or shipping. I whined for a while, and he threatened to hang up on me. Then I demanded to speak to someone else. He put me on hold for about five minutes. Then he told me they'd pick up the whole cost. The moral? Be polite, but whine and demand to talk to someone else.

Anyway, my posts will be less off-the-cuff for the next few weeks. I'll be blogging mainly from the library because I've made a rule about no blogging at work. Plus, I really don't have the time there.

Oh, and, it's still raining here.

Coming soon: 10 miles on Friday, and the inaugural training session (with pancake feed!) Saturday morning.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I'm thinking of building an ark

I went for a run tonight after work. Six miles. In the rain, and in the dark. My fingers were wrinkled like when you wash too many dishes, or stay in the lake too long. It was a weird, meditative hour or so. And it wasn't just the sprinkle-sprinkle rain that just sort of mists and makes everything damp. This was a steady drizzle, the kind that makes you think twice before leaving home without an umbrella. And the kind that makes you wonder if the sun is ever going to shine again in Tacoma. Seriously.

According to Elizabeth M. Gillespie in the AP's Seattle bureau:

After 22 consecutive days of measurable rain, Seattle is closing in on a record so dismal, even forecasters in this city famous for its gray skies are complaining — albeit politely.
With more wet weather predicted over the next several days, Seattle may soon break a record set in 1953, when there 33 consecutive days of measurable precipitation — the most since the local National Weather Service branch started tracking rainfall in 1931.

Well, at least it's not 10 below zero.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Saturday night fever

The laptop is on the fritz again, so blogging will be light for a while. (I'm not pleased with Dell right now.) I'm listening to Valet and waiting for my friend Angie to come over. We're going to watch Team America: World Police, which I've been told that I'll love.

Running: I ran 9 miles yesterday, and had every intention of running 5 or 6 today. Didn't happen. (My apartment is spotless though.) Ten miles is the goal by next Saturday.

That is all, but before I go here's a Slate article from a month ago.

The "Left Behind" Movies
How to end the world on a budget.
By Grady Hendrix
Posted Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005, at 12:51 PM ET

Last month, Christians everywhere were supposedly locked up in their churches watching the most recent apocalyptic movie, Left Behind: World at War. The three "Left Behind" movies, based on the best-selling "Left Behind" books, were produced and written by the Lalonde brothers, two Canadians who have built their careers on faith-based thrillers. The movies have either been released straight to video or, as in the case of Left Behind: World at War, DVDs were mailed to churches, which were encouraged to hold public screenings. The new "Left Behind" movie disturbs me—not because thousands of people are watching a movie that proclaims non-Christians will burn in hell for all eternity—but rather because thousands of people are watching a movie where Toronto stands in for New York, Chicago, and Israel. Also, Washington, D.C. And Egypt. London, too.

The "apocalypse on a shoestring" aesthetic has become the hallmark of the "Left Behind" series. It tells the story of the End Times, the events that, according to fundamentalist Christianity, precede the end of the world. Like all enormous bummers, they're tightly scheduled. First comes the Rapture, when Christians are sucked up to heaven, leaving the unsaved behind. Then the Tribulation begins—the seven years when the United Nations, led by the Antichrist and the Whore of Babylon, take over the planet. The movies star Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains as a member of a resistance movement known as the Tribulation Force. In a nice touch, Cameron's wife, Chelsea Noble, has been cast as the Whore of Babylon. The Antichrist is played by Canadian Gordon Currie.

The first film, Left Behind: The Movie, introduced us to Cameron's character, Buck Williams, an anchorman for GNN news who broadcasts around the world live from an off-the-shelf consumer-model video camera. Melrose Place vet Brad Johnson plays a pilot whose Christian wife ascends into heaven during the Rapture, leaving him with their teenage daughter, Chloe (who, in one of the queasier elements of the series, falls in love with Buck). Things get rocking once the Rapture hits, the Christians go to heaven, and chaos ensues. Planes crash, cars burst into flames, heavy machinery goes unoperated, little old ladies take to the bottle, and everyone freaks out and leaves garbage everywhere.

The Lalonde brothers admit that the first "Left Behind" movie was a major flop, but it sold well on video and so we got a sequel, Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force, which was a pathetic attempt at filmmaking even by the standards of straight-to-video movies. For the third film, Sony Entertainment got involved and signed the checks. While each installment's budget is estimated to be around $17.4 million, I think that number might be off by $16 million or so. In Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force, for example, Kirk Cameron has to take Ben Judah, a respected rabbi, to the Wailing Wall so that he can tell Jews everywhere that Jesus Christ is Lord. Israel is represented by a few stone walls obviously made of plywood, some Christmas-tree lights, and 500 volunteer extras wearing leftover costumes from a Nativity pageant. The Wailing Wall is patrolled by soldiers dressed in World War II army uniforms. The producers have also dubbed in the sound of goats during scenes set in downtown Jerusalem, which leads to the unusual notion that modern-day Israel is populated by WWII re-enactors, nervous-looking people in bathrobes, and goats.

In low-budget movies there are just some things that you can't portray convincingly. The end of the world is one of them, and the spinning wheels of geopolitics is another. In Left Behind: World at War, the world is never depicted at war, but we do get a brief snowmobile battle. Worse, the Lalonde brothers have reduced international diplomacy to its most ham-handed elements. The first thing that the evil Nicolae (aka the Antichrist) does is seize control of the United Nations by executing his opponents on the floor of the General Assembly, gangster style. Then he proclaims, "While nations deal with the chaos within their own borders, the U.N. has taken a leadership role in stabilizing the world." The United Nations can't even take a leadership role in getting rid of its parking tickets, but in the "Left Behind" universe, the U.N. wants nothing more than to disarm the world's armies, eliminate famine, and bring about a global peace. This, confusingly, makes them the bad guys.

Thanks to Sony's money, the third installment is slightly more upscale—it's even got Louis Gossett Jr. as the pistol-packing president of the United States—yet the series still can't shake its low-budget mindset. The president slips out of the White House in the trunk of a hatchback, invades a chemical weapons lab (the nefarious Nicolae has been poisoning Bibles, causing Christians to become sick), takes out the bad guys by surfing down a flight of stairs on their faces, and then sneaks back in to the White House undetected. Once there, he orders the "SS" to launch an attack. I think he means the Secret Service, but I'm not sure whom the president is trying to scare, as we've already seen his Secret Service detail and there are only two guys on it. At the end of the movie, the Christians discover that communion wine can stop the plague, and the president finds God and almost immediately sacrifices himself in a missile strike on Nicolae. A fine effort, but Nicolae emerges from the rubble without even a smudge on his European menswear. Roll credits, start planning sequel.

There's much more to ponder in Left Behind: World at War, not the least of which is: Did Kirk Cameron actually think that sporting 5-o'clock shadow would make him more viable as an action hero? Did the Lalonde brothers really think no one would notice that they've replaced Clarence Gilyard, a black actor who played a resistance minister in both previous movies, with a totally different black actor? Do they think that all black actors look alike? The Lalondes have said that they are not going to report the box office numbers for Left Behind: World at War in terms of money made but in terms of souls saved. Yet watching this movie's nonstop barrage of bargain-basement digital effects, computer displays of missile attacks that look like screen savers, and scenes of a world at war that feature the same sets used over and over, the only thing I could see being saved was money.

Grady Hendrix, a New York writer, runs the New York Asian Film Festival.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2131365/

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Just in case you were wondering

From this week's LA Weekly. It's difficult to tell exactly what the issue is supposed to be, and I'm disappointed in its relative lack of Kate Sullivan, who's one of my favorite writers. But there's a brief section that includes this list of new dog breeds.

20 New Designer Dogs Involving Poodles, and a Few Other Breeds

Boxerdoodle — Boxer/Poodle
Cairnoodle — Cairn Terrier/Poodle
Cockapoo — Cocker Spaniel/Poodle
Doodleman Pinscher — Doberman/Standard Poodle
Eskapoo — American Eskimo Dog/Poodle
Labradoodle — Labrador Retriever/Poodle
Malti-Pom — Maltese/Pomeranian
Peek-A-Pom — Pekingese/Pomeranian
Pekepoo — Pekingese/Poodle
Pomchi — Pomeranian/Chihuahua
Pomapoo — Pomeranian/Poodle
Puggle — Pug/Beagle
Pugapoo — Pug/Poodle Saint
Berdoodle — Saint Bernard/Poodle
Shorkie — Yorkshire Terrier/Shih Tzu
Schnoodle — Schnauzer/Poodle
Scoodle — Scottish Terrier/Poodle
Shepadoodle — German Shepherd/Standard Poodle
Whoodles — Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier/Poodle
Yorktese — Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tomorrow is another day

I have to be honest: I haven't run since Dec. 17.

1. I was back in Minnesota where it's too damn cold to run outside in December.
2. I finally came down with a full-fledged cold after a few weeks of headache-y goodness.
3. I spent new years weekend in Portland going to rock shows, drinking and staying out all night.

But tomorrow is another day.

Anyway, I forgot to include a few critical things in the FAQ.

By the sound of your reactions, a few of you are a little bit disgusted by the bleeding nipples, blackened toenails aspect of running a marathon. Well, here's another pleasant thought: some people have been known to, um, crap themselves whilst running. I don't know how common this is, but it's something that I will ask the Saturday morning training instructors about and report back.

I'm loosely using the book "The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" to prepare for the race. I just glanced at it for the first time in a few months. I now think it will be good for more psychological preparedness than physical training.

Lastly, I am not running the marathon with a specific finish time in mind. My goal is simply to cross the finish line.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Well, this is it. I casually mentioned that I should start a blog to record my marathon training, and certain red-headed friend *insisted* that I do it. In order to save you time, I've created this frequently asked questions, or FAQ as the "kids" call it these days.

Find answers below to your burning questions like "Why the hell are you doing this?" And, "Don't your nipples bleed during marathons and long runs?"

Why are you doing this to yourself?
It started as a way to keep myself occupied when I moved to Washington last summer. Then I thought it would be a good goal to run a marathon. It's turning out to be equal parts of both.

When did you start this?
I began running last July. I could barely run a mile without stopping to catch my breath. As of today, I can manage 9-mile runs.

When and where will you attempt to run the 26.2 miles?
The Capital City Marathon will be held Sunday, May 21st in Olympia, Wash.

Wait, didn't you raise laziness to a whole new level when you lived in Minneapolis?I like to think so. Most of my college days were spent either drinking Hamms at the Turf Club in St. Paul or scotch ale at Town Hall in Minneapolis. I liked to follow that up with a late-night Roseanne marathon on Nick-At-Nite or a Tex-Mex omelette at the Dinkytowner. One thing: when I lived in Duluth in summer 2003 I was tricked into running on the lake walk several times by Emily (of Star Tribune fame). I couldn't even run a mile without panting and wanting to die. Emily, who ran the Twin Cities marathon last fall, was visibly disappointed, but never said so. This was the start of wanting to run a marathon, I think.

Why running and not biking or swimming or something less painful?
I like the simplicity of running. There's isn't much gear besides your shoes and quick-drying clothes and socks. You can just roll out of bed, get dressed and start moving. I really like that. It's almost completely dependent on you.

I'm confused: did you run competitively in high school?
No. In fact, I usually placed near last when we had to run "the mile" in ninth-grade physical education. I mocked people who ran competitively, then sulked off to play in my band, listen to Sonic Youth "Sister" or make snarky comments about my home town.

Won't your nipples bleed and your toenails fall off if you run the marathon?
It's possible. I've been told that you have to grease yourself with petroleum jelly to cut down on any friction. You also have to cut your toenails down to the nub. A good friend told me recently that her fiancee didn't do this and his toenails turned black and fell off. She forced him to wear socks until they were markedly less disgusting. It sounded like a completely reasonable request.

Alright wiseguy, how are you going to train for this marathon?
I'm joining a training group that begins on Jan. 14 in Olympia. It's every Saturday for 16 weeks. The group will do a long run together, then some instructors will talk about preparing for the marathon. I imagine it will be stuff like how to hydrate, stretch and make sure your nipples don't bleed on the big day. In addition to the training group, I'll be running three to four times a week on my own. I've purchased a book that includes a fairly simplistic training schedule that I feel should be easy to complete if I stay focused.

So, about this blog: didn't you try to blog when you lived in D.C.?
Yes, I did. Then I got lazy and stopped doing it. I'm pretty sure my readership was only three people, which made it pretty easy to quit. I've often thought that it would be easier to blog if I had something specific to talk about each day, i.e. the marathon training. Let's hope that's true. I won't post every day because that would be boring for you and me. I plan to post several times a week.