Friday, May 26, 2006

To the faithful departed

This blog is now dead. Thanks for reading.

I've launched a new blog at There's nothing on it yet, but there should be real soon.


Monday, May 22, 2006

And finally ...

Jeremy and I made the front page today of The Olympian, Olympia's newspaper. We're in the center left. I'm in white, and Jeremy's in the blue.

Thanks to Kristina for cropping the photo.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Against All Odds: I Ran a Marathon Today Edition

So, I ran the marathon. My right knee hurt so badly that I can barely walk stairs today, but I made it.

My time was 5:10. Jeremy and I started really strong, running 9:30-10 minute miles for the first 10 miles or so. But then the wheels came off. At mile 15-16, it felt like someone was stabbing my knee with a knife. And Jeremy became dehydrated. The next 10 miles were hard fought, but we made it. We walked a lot, and took our time. And we finished.

My family ran with us around mile 22, and my sister, Angie, came with us all the way to the finish line. I'm really appreciated that.

I got a FINISHER shirt, a medal and a bum knee. Now, I'm a marathoner.

Thanks to everyone for reading, and posting comments and sending me postive emails. Now it's your turn to run a marathon or do something that you think you can't do.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Against All Odds: I am number 262 Edition

Less Than 12 hours Until Start -- I picked up my race number today. It's 262. It was part of my race packet, which included a little black piece of plastic that my dad attached to my shoe. It will record my official start time and finish time. Way more high tech than I ever expected.

My parents and sister flew in yesterday morning, and we've been taking in Tacoma and Olympia. It's been great to have them here, and the weather's cooperated, for the most part.

I'm feeling fairly nervous about the race. My knee is feeling a bit better, but my right leg still aches. Only one more day until I can rest it for a good long while. That's what it needs to repair it for the long haul.

I'm glad the training group required me to run 22 miles a few weeks back. It makes running 26.2 miles seem doable. A while ago, a friend told me the longest she ran was 18 miles before she attempted the big race. She said it was a big mistake.

So, by the time many of you read this, I will be running in Olympia, finished and holding my medal or laying in the back of a racing ambulance. Just kidding on that last one. Well, maybe.

Today: Walk
Tomorrow: I will run a marathon.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Against All Odds: Soul Asylum Edition

Three Days Out -- It's the sound of a band back from the brink.

The two songs posted on Soul Asylum's MySpace page are great, but they reek of survival, in a good way.

I guess that's what happens when one of your founding members dies of cancer after he lays down his tracks for your first album in eight years.

And everyone counts your band out, even though you've been going strong for 25 years, and could still beat the pants off any new "it" band.

And you're the one of the best Minnesota bands of all time, but all most people can talk about is Runaway Train and Winona Ryder.

If they have to play clubs instead of stadiums, they will. They already made their money, played Bubba's presidential inaugural ball and dated starlets.

Nothing can stop this band, and that is awesome beyond words.

Today: icing my leg
Tommorow: short walk

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Against All Odds: Oprah Interview Edition

Four Days Out --

HARPO Productions, Inc. transcript from Show #36,237, Air date 5/17/2006


(Oprah enters to thunderous, sustained applause. She takes her seat on a tastefully decorated set.)

Oprah: My guest today is a Washington man who decided to turn his
ambition of running a marathon into a blog. One year ago, he was a
dough-y Midwesterner, who never packed his own lunch and drank Jack
and Cokes every chance he could. Now, in less than a week, he'll
run 26.2 miles and try to beat *my* marathon time of 4:29:16 -- but
who's counting right?

(Thunderous laughter, sustained applause)

O: Please welcome Paaaaaaaullllllllllllllllllll.

(Wild clapping, women leaping up to get a glimpse of Paul)

(Paul walks triumphantly onto the stage. He is dressed in a blue
sportcoat, casual striped shirt, jeans and beat-up New Balance
sneakers, displaying the last remnants of his indie rock

Paul: Thanks for having me on the show, Oprah.

O: You're welcome. Tell me. How do you feel?

P: I feel good, both physically and mentally. It's actually kind of
hard to believe, considering I've been exercising harder and more
often than ever before for the past six months.

O: You wrote a sarcastic FAQ for your blog as your introductory post.
In it you wrote that you wanted to run a marathon because you were
bored. Is that true?

P: Yes, at least partially. I mean, I could have just taken up reading
more books, or collecting insects, or keeping my apartment constantly
clean. I wanted something deeper though. Something more. I wanted to
do something physical, because, at that point, it seemed unthinkable
to do something really monumental that had to do with physical strength and mental toughness.

The part that I left out of the FAQ is that I really like to do stuff
that people think I can't do. I sort of get off on it. Well, at first
I get really pissed, and then I figure out how I'm going to do it. And
then I figure out how I'll subtlely rub their faces in it.

The other thing is, I wasn't really happy with how I looked and I
thought about how your body only goes downhill, if you don't do
something about it. I had a vision of myself in my late 30s with a
beergut and a double chin on my Charlie Brown-like head, and it made
me shiver.

O: Oh, my God. You poor thing.

P: Thanks, Oprah. Anyway, I also just wanted to get some good exercise
habits going. Or, at the very least, someday when I am overweight, I
can think about the times that I wasn't overweight. Plus, I'll have a
sweet marathon medal and FINISHER shirt.

O: So, you've said you feel great. What's changed since you started training?

P: It'd be a shorter list to compile what hasn't changed, Oprah.

(Audible smattering of laughs and clapping)

First, all the obvious stuff: my diet has completely changed for the
better. I actually cook now, and spend more and more time at the
grocery store. I worry about my sleep now. I exercise five to six
times a week.

There's lots of less obvious consequences from training for this race.
I feel much more confident. I feel like I can do almost anything, and
that many things are possibly.

I feel like a legitimate athelete for the first time in my life, and
it's kind of weird. Beyond that, people are treating me like an
athlete. A runner. *A marathoner.* I don't know how to react when
people are in awe of the distances that I run. I feel like a brand new
person -- I better person in some respects.

My dad's heart attack in January scared the shit out of me -- can I
say shit on syndicated afternoon TV, Oprah?

O: No, I'm sorry we'll have to bleep it out.

P: Sorry, anyway, it scared me and reminded me of how tenuous and
short life really is. You've got to head towards your goals sooner
rather than later because you don't know what's going to happen to you
or someone important to you five minutes from now or tomorrow or next
week. I'm certainly not advocating recklessness or rash decisions, but you've got to be honest with yourself and take some chances and live your life in a way you won't regret someday.

O: Mm-hmm.

P: Back to my point about proving everyone wrong -- I also wanted to
prove that an out-of-shape former slacker could run a marathon, and
that it isn't out of reach for many, if not most, people. Not to sound
like a Hallmark card, but I thought maybe I could inspire other people
to greatness, or at least goodness or betterness. Whether it was
running a marathon, or just walking a little bit every day. I wanted
to prove it was possible, even though I had no idea if it would
actually work out, or if it even was possible. It's odd, I know.

O: So, what about the blog? Will it continue after the race? Will you
recast it's focus, or will you dump it and never blog again?

P: The marathon blog will end shortly after the race, May 21. It was
just an experiment. I never meant for it to stay beyond the marathon.
I'll likely keep it up for a while, but then delete it.

Will I ever blog again? Probably, but I'm just not sure how. I think
it's easier to have a blog that's centered around a specific theme,
idea, etc. It leads to more focused writing and urgency. Plus, it's
not so damn boring and meandering.

Maybe I'll try to guest blog, or I'll just write short essays about
rock records that saved my life and email them to a couple of friends.
I'm not sure.

O: Well, thank you for being here! Paauulllll!!!!!!!

(Ridiculous, ear-splitting applause)


Today: 20-minute run
Tomorrow: nothing

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Against All Odds: Gu v. Powerbar Edition

Five Days Out -- Several months ago I pledged allegiance on this blog to Gu, the odd protein-packed gelatinous goop that runners eat during long runs. Recently, however, I tried the more solid Powerbar, and it's replaced my beloved Gu. For the most part.

The bar felt like it stayed with me longer than the a Gu packet, which I could eat one after another during a run if I had to.

My plan for the marathon is to bring two Powerbars and three Gu packets. The race map says there'll be a couple of Gu stations along the way, but I want to make sure I've got enough to get through it all.

I favor the vanilla bean flavor for the Gu's, and the banana-flavor Powerbars. They actually taste like banana bread. I'm no dummy though; I know both scents/flavors were cooked up in a laboratory somewhere in New Jersey.

Today: icing my knee
Tomorrow: 20-minute run

Monday, May 15, 2006

Against All Odds: Cheese Slicing Implement / Midnight Stroll Edition

Six Days Out -- I will resist the urge to make a "cutting the cheese" joke here, but I do need to talk about the cheese slicer I recently purchased. It's changed my life.

It's not stainless steel like the one in the photograph. (I'd hazard a guess that the only people in American with stainless steel cheese slicers are married, and likely received said slicer as a wedding gift.) Regardless, its ability to slice through the rectangular blocks of Tillamook cheese I buy to put on my egg sandwiches is truly remarkable.

There I said it. I needed to get it off my chest.

I got back a few minutes ago from a walk around my neighborhood. My work out schedule this week will be as follows: today, 30-minute walk; Wednesday, 20-minute run and Friday, 30-minute walk. The regiment was prescribed by the training guru in my running group. I need to save my energy for Sunday. Plus, I want to make sure I'm not putting any undue strain on my wonky right knee/IT Band.

The weather's been great here the last couple days, and the temperature is still really pleasant tonight. Usually there's a damp bite to the air in Tacoma, but tonight it was gone. It wasn't humid; it just felt perfect. And it reminded me of wandering around my old neighborhood in Southeast Minneapolis where I lived during college. My current neighborhood shares many qualities with that one -- old, well-kept homes, apartment buildings jam-packed with 20-somethings and, generally, safe sidewalks.

I've always liked to walk quiet, lit city streets at night. It's cool to see the blueish glow of TV screens inside the houses. And the night time gives you a chance to really study the buildings without anyone else around.

Today: 30-minute walk
Tomorrow: nothing

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Against All Odds: Why Jim Walsh rules edition

7 Days Out -- If posting this late in the day seems like cheating on my "posting everyday" pledge, you're probably right. I woke up this morning, and left the house for work. This is the first chance I've had to blog. So there.

I've really only talked with Jim Walsh once that I can remember, and it was a strange conversation. We stood next to each other at a Liz Phair show at First Ave. in August 2003 on the left side of the stage and talked about the screen that shields the band from the crowd before they're ready to go on.

For some reason they didn't use the screen or the screen didn't work or something. Jim was mock complaining about it, and I was mock giving it right back to him about being an old man and needing the screen for his experience to be complete. I remember also using air quotes at some point in the conversation. He left before the last encore, and the screen mysteriously began to function. I emailed him the next day to tell him, and he sent back a cheery email.

Jim's a City Pages columnist and blogger. He used to write for the Pioneer Press, and worked at my university's student newpaper -- before my time though. He's pretty much the same age as the guys in the Replacements, Husker Du, et. al.

My first encounter with him was in the summer of 2001. He was writing for the St. Paul paper, and hyping the living shit out of then-unknown Ike Reilly. So, I ended up at the Turf Club with Mark and Brianna, who I also had just recently met. (It was some summer.) And Jim's writing spoke the truth: Ike was fabulous.

After the show Ike played a couple songs for just us three, and in Jim's next column he wrote about it. And I was floored. I was "famous" -- even though I was just one of the "three Minnesota Daily music writers" mentioned in the story. I still have the computer print out of the story.

He's just the perfect taste-maker. He's old enough to be immune to the seduction of hyped pretentious rock music. But he's young enough to still write convincingly and honestly about the power of rock. And he's not jaded. Plus, I heard a rumor he sings back-up on the 'Mats "I Will Dare."

I'm drawn to the unflinching optimism that sometimes pops up in his writing. And I'm grateful that he doesn't use irony as a crutch when he writes. (My theory is this: he learned to write in the pre-irony age.) I like that he's married and has kids, but hasn't given up on the stuff I think he loves, namely new music and writing and going to shows.

Thanks, Jim.

Today: nothing
Tomorrow: quick walk

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Against All Odds: Saturday morning routine edition

8 Days Out -- If cable TV news gets to brand news events with vaguely power catch phrases, I do too. That's why I've decided on "Against All Odds." I feel it really captures the gravity of my situation, and my darkhorse decision to run the marathon. Plus, this week is like May sweeps for my blog.

So, I was going to post this morning after my pre-run gorging, but I was too tired and distracted by VH1 Classic. I've been meaning to write about my Saturday morning routine for some time.

During one of my first training sessions the head trainer mentioned that we should finish eating breakfast three hours before our 8 a.m. Saturday runs. It's to make sure we've digested our food, I think. The only thing is it would mean I'd have to be up around 4:30 a.m. and have completed eating by 5 -- not going to happen.

So, since the beginning of January I've compromised; I'm up by 5:30, and I've finished eating by 6 a.m. I figure two hours is plenty of time to digest two bowls of generic Honey Nut Cheerios, four generic Eggo waffles, 16 ounces of water and one or two bananas.

Between 6 and 7 a.m. is the magic hour. I really shouldn't fall back asleep, so I stretch out my legs and watch all the strange things that are on TV at that hour -- usually VH1 Classic, featuring Dick Cavett episodes and Duran Duran concert footage. I also watch local morning new shows for comedic value.

Since daylight saving time started, I've been able to (partially, very partially) watch the sun rise over the Cascades from my living room window; it's pretty remarkable, and it makes me glad to be up at such an ungodly hour.

I generally leave the hour at 7 a.m. to make the half hour drive to Olympia. I pick up Jeremy along the way, and we're off to make our runs around the city with the group.

Today: 5-mile run
Tomorrow: nothing, but I will ice my knee

Friday, May 12, 2006

Why this blog has sucked lately. Plus, why it's gonna be *way* better for the next week or so.

First, I was ready to fire off a pithy blog post Wednesday morning before work, but wasn't working. Then, my knee/right leg has been hurting like hell all week, and I didn't want to spread my pain around.

All this leads me to think what you're probably thinking: this blog has sucked lately.

I've come out with a plan to fix that: a 8-day post-a-thon, featuring, you guessed it -- 8 days of blog posts, culminating in a final rumination on running next Sunday, May 21. I'll start tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll finish my laundry and laughing about the barn-shaped restaurant where I ate breakfast this morning near my Honda dealer. All the booths are fenced in with exposed wood so they look like horse stalls -- classy. The food was awesome and cheap though.

Today: 60-minute walk
Tomorrow: 5-mile tempo run in Olympia. Plus, driving the actual marathon course to get a feel for it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

"It's the final countdown"

In less than two weeks I will run the marathon; hopefully my knee will feel better by then. I've got a couple of essays/love letters up my sleeve that I want to get on the blog before the experiment ends.

Stay tuned.

Today: nothing
Tomorrow: walk?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Nevermind the cowbell. Or, the pain of recurrent IT band injuries, and the power of Rock.

First, allow me to apologize for my absence. Since Tuesday, I've run twice, walked several times, eaten a chicken quesadilla entree, washed my dishes and found out my rollover minutes are applied to my anytime minutes; it's been a pretty good week.

This morning I ran 10 miles with Jeremy in Olympia at about a 9-minute mile pace. My right knee began acting up towards the end of the run. It feels like my IT band again, and that sucks. That specific part of my leg hasn't hurt in at least two months. I'm icing it *right now*. I plan to lay off on the training this week.

In other news, I've rediscovered my love for rock. As in, *real* rock. Behold:

* I re-read a good portion of Klosterman's Fargo Rock City. Near the end of the book Chuck writes about his "Jack Factor" -- the amount of money he would have to be paid in order to never listen to a specific record ever again. His most expensive album? GNR's "Appetite for Destruction." He singles out "Night Train" and "Rocket Queen" -- my two personal favorites.

* I've been pumping Sleater-Kinney "All Hands on the Bad One" in the car for the past couple days, and have begun to remember when Olympia seemed like a mythical, indie rock wonderland, and SK was more jagged and more overtly political. I bought this record six years during the first week of May of my high school senior year(here's your opportunity to figure how old I am, for those of you who don't know), and saw and met the band a week later at First Ave.

*I watched part of "School of Rock" on TV last night and reveled in Jack Black's unabashed rock love. (Sample dialogue: "Alright, 8:15 to 10 -- rock history, and theory. 10 to 11 -- rock appreciation. The rest of the day we practice.") Also, Black showing the guitar-playing kid the power stance and how to nod his head slowly with creepy wide, vacant eyes.

*This morning I caught VH1's Ultimate Albums featuring AC/DC's "Back in Black." I watched the whole thing start to finish, a rarity considering my attention span. Anyway, these guys had a *SPECIAL* bell made that said "AC/DC Hell's Bell" to play at the beginning of the album (see above photo). If that's not enough, they'd rolled it onstage to kick off each show of their 60-date U.S. tour. It was awesome. The footage shows the lead singer, the drunken, be-hatted Brian Johnson, smacking the bell and an arena full of rockers losing. Their. Minds. It makes me a little misty-eyed.

*Today I bought GNR's "Use Your Illusion I" -- aka the blue one. Um, OK, where to start on this one... Axl calls out rock critics he hates on "Get in the Ring"; Slash's guitar in "Estranged" is transcendent; "You Could Be Mine" was famously featured in Terminator 2 as Ed Furlong (John Connor) cranked it on a tiny boombox as he sped away on his dirtbike in L.A. (I totally wanted to be him when I was 11 because he had a dirt bike.)

The lesson of all this? If every rock magazine can cavalierly proclaim that "rock is back" every two to three years, so can I.

It's spring in Tacoma, and rock is back.

Today: 10-mile run in Olympia
Tomorrow: icing my right leg

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Five terrible fake David Blaine endurance stunts

From on May 1st, 2006

1. perches atop a Shoney’s salad bar (throughout busy Mother’s Day holiday)
2. wedges deep in Ted Kennedy’s jowl (duration of lengthy filibuster)
3. stands dutifully in line at the DMV (16 weeks)
4. sealed in oversized Ziploc® bag; simply forgotten in back of fridge (2½ years)
5. attends taping of Dr. Phil (60 minutes)

Click this if you're confused.