Friday, April 29, 2011

Rebrand repeat

On the advice of Tracy, whose blog I read and enjoy on a regular basis, I have made the executive decision to produce a sequel to my Photoshop-tastic blog entry on rebranding everyday products to make them more appealing to runners.

So here it is: running rebrand, take two. There’s (possibly) more where that came from, depending on how my carpel tunnel is feeling. Using a laptop finger pad to produce several poorly edited images has put a lot of stress on my wrist and hand joints of late.

Please enjoy the ridiculous, and hopefully hilarious, fruits of my labor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't forget the lyrics

I am so over winter.

I know it is exasperatingly passé to complain about the weather, but everyone else is doing it, so I will too: spring, you have really outdone yourself this year. I’m used to surprise hailstorms here and there, but you usually tease me with a few warm, sunny days in between. This year, you’ve been stingy even with your mild 50-degree days, and for that, you suck. Seriously.

OK, now that I’ve gotten that out, I’m going to move on to something even more exasperating. Endless Winter 2011 has forced me to spend more time exercising inside than I would prefer, but excess elliptical training is not the main source of my frustration.

As any routine gym user will tell you, indoor exercise can get really, really boring. Electronic devices like built-in TVs and iPods are effective sources of entertainment—to a point. But there comes a time in every regular gym-goer’s life when he or she simply cannot fathom the thought of sweating through one more episode of Dancing With the Stars.

Somewhere over the course of my many years as a runner living in the Arctic tundra of western Montana, I developed something I like to call Silent Gym Karaoke. As you might surmise from the title, this activity involves soundlessly mouthing the words to your favorite songs as you listen to them on your personal music device.

My favorite variation of this game was inspired by the popular television program Don’t Forget the Lyrics! It involves randomly pressing the pause button on my iPod and trying to correctly complete the next verse of whatever song I’m listening to.

My second favorite variation of this game involves pretending that I’m Steven Tyler and the gym is the stage at an Aerosmith concert. This version allows for a good deal of creativity with facial expressions and microphone stand stunts.

Here’s the problem: based on observable reactions from my peers, I get the feeling that my rock star miming routine is annoying—possibly even frightening—to the general population of gym users.

The other day, for example, I was cruising along on the elliptical to the beat of one of my favorite songs, “Fergalicious.” It is common knowledge that I know every single word to every single Fergie song, so I was (silently, of course) rocking pretty dang hard—especially when I got to the line about being “up in the gym just working on my fitness.” (Because hello—I was actually up in the gym working on my fitness.)

I was having such a good time that it took me awhile to notice the grumpy old dude—er, ill-tempered elderly gentleman—glaring at me from across the room. He stood motionless next to a stationary bike with one hand resting on the seat, as if to say, “I cannot possibly continue with my planned leisurely bike ride/AARP The Magazine reading session until you have ceased behaving like a complete idiot.”

The moment I realized his menacing gaze was directed at me, I closed my mouth and cast my eyes downward in embarrassment. I stared blankly at my machine’s electronic screen for roughly three minutes—enough time for Mr. Blister to start his workout and become distracted by a riveting exposé on denture adhesive.

When I was sure he was sufficiently occupied, I cranked the volume on my iPod, skipped ahead to “Glamorous”—another Fergie fave—and karaoked like a champ. And no, I did not forget the lyrics.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bad egg

In honor of the Easter holiday, and also in honor of the fact that I will be spending it in Butte, Montana with some of my more…um…rambunctious family members, I would like to share with you all an Easter story that still haunts me to this day. And no, it has nothing to do with the creepy bunny from this childhood photo:

It was Easter weekend 1997. My mom and her sisters decided to take all of us cousins to the park for the big Easter egg hunt. I was excited, because I had a pretty solid history in the competitive egg-hunting department.

My secret was my speed. I knew that if I could get a clean, quick start off of the line, the other kids didn’t have a prayer. I had considerable practice with this technique, as I used it on a daily basis to snag one of the coveted playground swings at recess.

When we arrived at the hunt site, I was a little taken aback by the turnout. There were kids everywhere—so many, in fact, that the field was divided into age groups. I was assigned to the third through fifth grade group—a bit unnerving, as I was at the bottom of the age range. Still, I was confident of my ability to outsprint an 11-year-old on any given day, especially when there were candy-filled plastic eggs on the line.

When I got to my group’s starting area, I staked out a spot near the front. Even at the tender age of nine, I knew enough about race strategy to avoid getting boxed in by slower runners. I did a quick warm-up of easy plyo jumps and light stretching. As the starter walked to the center of the field, I lowered into a starting stance, left foot forward and basket tucked beneath my right elbow. It’s go time, I thought.

In lieu of an actual starting gun, the race starter raised a can of Silly String in the air, yelling, “Three, two, one, HUNT!!!” I barely caught a glimpse of the ribbons of neon pink and orange exploding into the sky as I launched myself forward.

I immediately spotted a purple egg nestled beside a small fir tree about thirty yards away. I kicked it into high gear, smiling to myself and thinking this would be the first of many eggs on the day.

I saw a flash of red in my peripheral field of vision a split-second before I hit the ground. I looked up, stunned and covered in mud, as a chubby boy in a red ski jacket speed-waddled to the tree and stole my purple egg. After placing it safely in his basket, he turned back and flashed me an evil smile between his pudgy cheeks. Then he waddled off, presumably to tackle and rob more unsuspecting nine-year-old girls.

By the time I finally collected my wits and stood up, I knew my situation was hopeless. All of the eggs in my immediate vicinity had been harvested, and I was way too far behind to catch up. Even if I had started sprinting, the hunt would have been over by the time I reached the other side of the park.

With my hopes of egg-hunt glory dashed against the rocks, I trudged back to the starting area, feeling despondent, dejected, and a bit foolish for underestimating the dirty tactics of the hardened school kids of Butte.

I don’t plan to participate in any Butte egg hunts on this lovely Easter Sunday. But if I did, you better believe there’d be some chubby fifth-graders in the mud—and lots of eggs in my basket—by the time I was done.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Precip prescrip

April showers bring May flowers.

As much as I would like to believe in the promise offered by this little gem of a nursery rhyme, I’ve lived through enough Montana springs to know that the showers don’t end in April. Or May. Or June. And flowers? Pshh. I don't plan on seeing any of those until mid-August.

Unlike the steady downpours of notoriously wet locations like Seattle or Portland, Montana precipitation is a sample platter of points that fall along the water-to-ice spectrum.

While some varieties of moisture are essentially harmless, others are potentially hazardous or even life threatening. I have compiled the following pocket guide to running in spring precipitation, complete with an illustrated danger scale and protective gear recommendations.

1.) Mist – A very fine, almost vaporous rain. Gives air a humid, coastal quality. Warm temperatures feel warmer, cold temperatures feel colder. Hair styling products rendered ineffective.

Variations: Icy mist (in winter-like conditions, e.g. Montana spring)

Recommendations: Wear layers and peel away when saturated. Pin back bangs to prevent unsightly frizz/forehead discomfort.

2.) Drizzle – A steady, medium-paced rain typically occurring in cool, overcast conditions.

Variations: Windy drizzle (a.k.a. wrizzle)

Recommendations: Wear waterproof outer shell. Avoid cotton garments (unless you plan to use your soaked hoodie sweatshirt as a form of weight resistance training). Post-run, use hot shower, electric blanket and/or tea to raise core temperature and fight onset of hypothermia. (Simultaneous use of hot shower and electric blanket not recommended.)

3.) Cloudburst – A sudden, forceful explosion of rainfall that makes you wonder what the ground did to deserve such violent abuse.

Variations: Horizontal cloudburst (a.k.a. hurricane)

Recommendations: Avoid loose-fitting clothing in favor of spandex, swimwear, or full-body wetsuit. In extreme cases, swimming goggles and galoshes may be necessary.

4.) Sleet – Half-frozen precipitation with the consistency of a 7-Eleven Slurpee. (Less delicious than a 7-Eleven Slurpee.)

Variations: Hard sleet (more than 50% frozen), soft sleet (less than 50% frozen)

Recommendations: Wear long, thick tights to better absorb impact and moisture. Brimmed hat (e.g. Souvenir Mexican sombrero, because what else are you going to use that for?) may help deflect sleet globs away from face.

5.) Graupel – Small, spherical pellets of hardened snow. Often mistaken for vanilla Dippin’ Dots. (Less delicious than vanilla Dippin’ Dots.)

Variations: Mega-graupel (Think giant Dippin’ Dots. Still no resemblance in taste.)

Recommendations: Barring unusually strong gusts of wind, graupel is relatively harmless and can be treated as regular snow. Dress accordingly.

6.) Hail – Small bits of ice that vary in size and shape; the most volatile and unpredictable of all types of spring precipitation. Famous for causing headaches, both directly (e.g. runners hit repeatedly in the face and head) and indirectly (e.g. car insurance agents bombarded with claims following a particularly violent storm).

Variations: Miniature hail (think uncooked rice), giant hail (size ranges from golf ball to grapefruit)

Recommendations: Avoid outdoor activity if possible. If you are a diehard crazy who must run, consider wearing leather chaps, helmet and/or protective face shield.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Drugs are bad, mmmkay

When you’re a college athlete, you get used to peeing in cups. There’s the glucose/protein test, the glucose protein re-test (because the smarties in athletic training used expired testing strips the first time around), random athletic department drug tests, and of course, random NCAA drug tests.

In my case, the word “random” actually meant “mandatory,” because I could pretty much count on being selected. Just as my backpack full of camera equipment usually leads to my “random” selection to have my personal space invaded by an electronic wand at airport security, my mediocre cross country and track performances obviously aroused suspicion amongst the performance-enhancing drug police.

I recently became employed (yay!) by a company that requires pre-employment drug screening (ugh), which meant I would have to attend yet another involuntary-urine-sample extravaganza.

The difference with this pee party, though, was that instead of testing for things like anabolic steroids, HGH and Claritin D (that’s not a typo—being “Claritin clear” can get you banned from NCAA competition), the nice folks at Occupational Health Services would be screening for substances like marijuana and cocaine.

I wasn’t too worried—I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not a meth head. To be on the safe side, I abstained from taking any allergy medication in the hours leading up to my appointment.

When I arrived, I was immediately aware that this test was unlike any other I’d been subjected to. There would be no Dixie cups, no pubic restrooms, no sophomore athletic training students giggling each time they read the instruction sheet out loud.

This test was serious. It was administered by a real medical professional in a real medical office. I had to wait 35 minutes in a real waiting room, where I read an issue of Highlights and got a real headache from Hidden Pictures.

By the time the nurse finally called me back, I knew I would have no problem providing enough milliliters of, um, sampling material. She gave me a ten-minute spiel about how to handle the test cup and reminded me several times not to flush the toilet in the testing restroom. (Yes, there was a bathroom specifically designated for drug tests. The faucet didn’t even work, which led me to believe that at some point in the past, someone had mixed up some Crystal Light in an attempt to outsmart the system.) I nodded and robotically muttered “OK” several times, half-listening and trying to speed up the process because I really had to go.

When I walked into the bathroom, the first thing I noticed was the huge, bright orange sign on the toilet that said, “DO NOT FLUSH” in dark capital letters. The toilet handle was also taped. I suspected they’d had some serious problems with reactionary flushing. I wondered why anyone would even need to flush the toilet. Wasn’t the whole point to pee into the cup?

After I had done my business, I hurried back to the nurse’s office to collect my things, assuming I was good to go. But you know what they say about assuming…

She told me to have a seat while she retrieved the sample. She returned with my pee cup in her latex-gloved hands. I was then required to watch her pour my urine into two separate plastic canisters—one “A” sample, one “B” sample.

This is getting kind of sick and twisted, I thought, just as the nurse handed me the two sealed containers and instructed me to initial the labels. As I held the bottles, I noticed my pee was still warm. Weird.

I half expected her to pull out an ink pad and make me put my finger prints on the labels too, but much to my relief, she abruptly pulled off her gloves and said, “Thank you, you’re dismissed. Results by next week.”

And before I could get in a reply, she was gone, presumably to administer another test. On the bright side, a busy pre-employment drug-testing clinic must be a sign of an economic pick-up.

Also on the bright side, no calls yet, which means I’m probably not a meth head. Probably.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


This is a humor blog, and its main objective is to be funny. We’ve shared a lot of laughs over the weeks (at least I hope I’m not the only one laughing), but today we need to address something very serious. And that something is muffin-top.

Imagine yourself in the following scenario: you are getting ready to go work out at your local exercise facility. You haven’t been to the gym in, um, awhile, and as a result, those cute stretch pants you bought last January (you know, right after you made that New Year’s resolution to go to the gym every day) are a bit tighter than you remember.

You decide to wear them anyway because (1) you still feel guilty about how much you spent on them, (2) you’ve convinced yourself that the snugger fit is helping “suck things in” and “smooth things out,” and (3) the lateral accent stripe is the EXACT same shade of pink as your new sports bra. And your iPod Nano. And your Nike cross trainers.

So far, so good. Here’s where things go south: you stop in front of the mirror on your way out the door, giving yourself the once-over to make sure you’ve secured any fly-away hairs and removed any Cheeto residue from your face. You are so distracted by the task of eliminating any VPL (visible panty line) that you completely overlook the much more serious situation occurring in and around your waistband region.

You enter the cardio area smiling, shirtless and completely oblivious to the fact that everyone else in the room suddenly looks like they just watched a Nicholas Cage movie. (Hint: their wide-eyed, jaws-on-the-floor stares have nothing to do with your impeccable color-coordination.)

The disturbing thing is that this little series of unfortunate events, unlike a Nick Cage film, is a nonfiction story that unfolded before my very own eyes just a few short days ago.

Look, I’m not trying to launch a smear campaign against muffin-top. We’ve all been there at one point or another, whether we enjoyed one too many Saturday morning Krispy Kremes or just unintentionally shrunk our pants in the dryer.

I’m simply pointing out the fact that, hey, they make pink shirts too. I understand that to some people, matching workout apparel is of the utmost importance.

I would argue that my mental and emotional wellbeing is of equal or perhaps greater importance. Either way, I think a t-shirt is a pretty fair compromise to this issue.

So before you decide to bare your midriff for all the world to see, stop. Look. Assess. Learn to recognize the signs of muffin-top, and keep an emergency stockpile of wardrobe alternatives to use when necessary. Together, we can eliminate VMT (visible muffin-top) and help make gyms safer and more comfortable for exercisers everywhere.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pool duel

The other day, I read a blog post about aqua jogging that reminded me of an interesting experience I had at the campus pool in college.

I’ve never really been a fan of indoor pools. There’s just something about the hot, muggy, chlorine-saturated air that doesn’t sit well with me. But when you’re an injured college runner at a school that devotes little to none of its athletics budget to track and field, your rehab training options are somewhat limited.

So every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I dragged my grouchy, sleep-deprived self out of bed at 5:45 a.m. so I could make it to the pool by 6:15—the only time our team could be squeezed into the busy pool schedule according to the friendly, helpful people in pool management.

I usually arrived for workouts still half-asleep and severely under-caffeinated. I’m sure I racked up an atrocious number of unseen, and therefore unpunished, traffic violations over the course of my months-long pool running regimen. I vaguely recall missing a red light and then thinking, “Oh well. It’s not like anyone else is out tooling around campus at SIX IN THE DAMN MORNING!” (The capital letters and swearing are for dramatic emphasis only. In truth, I don’t have enough energy to yell curse words at six in the morning.)

One day, I staggered into the locker room in a particularly foul mood. I can’t quite recall why—perhaps I had been up late studying for a test the night before. Or—more likely—maybe I had awoken to discover that I was out of my usual pre-pool breakfast food: Honey Bunches of Oats.

I sluggishly removed my sweats and my Ugg boots, sighing and rolling my eyes at just about everything I saw—from the puddles on the floor to the piles of unguarded clothes and towels on the benches—for no reason other than my strong desire to jump back into my warm, comfy bed instead of a cold, artificial, chlorine-filled hole in the ground.

I walked into the pool area wearing my usual aqua jogging attire: a pair of black spandex shorts and a black sports bra. Many of my teammates wore similar outfits. I definitely didn’t plan on making a habit out of pool running once I was injury-free, so I figured purchasing actual swimwear would be a waste of money. Plus, I hate one-piece swimsuits. Anyone with an abnormally long torso like mine knows exactly what I’m talking about (cough…wedgie…cough).

After grabbing a flotation belt, I made my way to the ladder, where I planned on entering the pool using the Slow-and-Torturous Method. (For some reason, I always thought I could make it through the workout without getting my hair wet, so I never jumped in.) Just as I put my left foot on the top rung, I was approached by the lifeguard on duty.

Bratty Lifeguard: Um, excuse me, is that a swimsuit you’re wearing?

Me: Well, it’s just spandex shorts and a sports bra, so technically, no.

Bratty Lifeguard: [Crossing her arms] Uh huh. The thing is, we have rules here, and all swimmers are required to have regulation swimwear.

Me: [Astonished at Bratty Lifeguard’s blatantly discourteous tone] OK, well I’ve been coming here for several weeks now, and there was never a problem before. And I’m not swimming, I’m pool running.

Bratty Lifeguard: Well if you’re not going to wear the appropriate attire, I’m afraid I’m going to have to remove you from the pool.

Me: [Lowering arms with palms facing outward] This is what I came in today. I don’t have a swimsuit to change into.

Bratty Lifeguard: [Motioning toward the lost and found area] We have a few on hand that you are welcome to borrow.

Me: [Mouth agape in obvious shock and disgust] I’m sorry, am I to understand that you would like me to wear a used swimsuit?

Bratty Lifeguard: If you want to be allowed in the pool today, then yes.

Me: [With an expression that says, “Bitch, are you kah-razy?”] I don’t recall seeing this rule posted anywhere on the premises of this facility, nor did I sign an agreement containing a list of restricted apparel. And I am certainly NOT wearing a used bathing suit. That is just gross.

Bratty Lifeguard: [Backing off as she realizes her little power trip is doomed to failure] Well then…I, um, I guess it’s OK for today. But in the future—

Before she could finish her sentence, I plunged into the pool, cannonball style. I didn’t look back to see if she got hit by my splash. Either way, it was sooooooo worth getting my hair wet.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I never did buy a “regulation swimsuit,” whatever that is.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pining for shining

Dear Mr. Sun,

It has been months since we last saw each other, and I miss you dearly. We spent so many warm, wonderful days together last summer—jogging along the river, jet skiing on the lake, having lunch on the deck.

As the leaves began to turn, you visited less and less often. My once-conspicuous watch tan slowly faded away. Then one day out of the blue, you completely disappeared. You didn’t write. You didn’t call. I cried for months, feeling cold, lonely and abandoned.

Those were the darkest days of my life. The romantic fool in me held onto hope that you might come back, but every time I turned my gaze to the sky, it was in vain. Each cloudy day was grayer and gloomier than the last.

When the snow finally began to melt, my hope of your return was replenished. Whenever I saw you peeking your beautiful golden face through the clouds, I rushed to lace up my trainers so I could meet you for a run. But you always retreated into your vaporous hiding place, leaving me brokenhearted again and again.

At first, I thought it was because you didn’t like me anymore. My friends called you a jerk and told me to get over you. But soon, I started to understand why you were hiding.

People are cruel, and they blame you for all sorts of terrible things, from drought to sunburns to melted ice cream cones. You are tired of their insults, and you resent being cursed for every weather-related problem in the world when all you ever wanted to do was aid in photosynthesis and vitamin D production.

Mr. Sun, I’m begging you: please come back. I can’t stop thinking about you, and I can’t spend another day without you. Forget about everyone else—none of them understand or appreciate you like I do.

I yearn to feel the warmth of your touch and see the brightness in your eyes. I need you to shine down on me.

Love always,


Monday, April 11, 2011

Exercise enterprise

In an economic climate where recent college graduates are more likely to end up living with their parents than living out their dreams (at least I hope I’m not the only one), we’ve got to make money any way we can. If you regularly visit a workout facility—you know, in between your part-time shifts at Orange Julius—just pick one of these ideas, put it into practice, and you’ll be showing Mom and Dad the tail end of a U-Haul in no time.

1.) You know the windshield cleaner guy who hangs out in the parking lots of major shopping and/or sports venues—the one who seems to appear out of nowhere to wipe down your car windows the moment you take the keys out of the ignition? Well, that dude has to be making some serious cash. How do I know this? Because he keeps showing up, and you keep giving him a dollar just to get him to go away. Now, imagine what could happen if you applied the same business model in a gym setting. All you would have to do is stand off to the side, rag and cleaning solution at the ready, and jump unsuspecting gym patrons the moment they step off of their machines. As they stand there, panting and dumbfounded, quickly clean the equipment and then turn to face them with an expectant look on your face. If they’re still not getting it, form your palm into the shape of a tiny cup and hold it out in front of you. Unsure of how else to extricate themselves from this uncomfortable situation, the still-surprised gym user will ultimately reach into their pocket to fish out a dollar bill, which they will slowly place into your handmade (ha ha) tip jar. Cha-ching.

2.) If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, memories of your magical tour through the Happiest Place on Earth probably include long lines, sweltering heat, and disgustingly overpriced food and beverages. You sweated to death for 55 minutes so you could ride the Indiana Jones Adventure, but you barely remember your wild trip through the cavernous bowels of the lost temple. What you do remember is purchasing a six-dollar bottle of water from the vendor conveniently placed just a few staggering steps from the exit. The price seems outrageous now, but when you were on the brink of heat stroke, you thought it was fairly reasonable. Think about it: fitness facilities are full of people who are overheated, tired and dehydrated. Do you think that sweat-drenched guy who just stepped off the corner treadmill would turn down the chance to purchase an ice-cold bottle of pure, quality H2O? Not a chance. Is he going to care about the price? Not if you catch him before the post-workout mind fog wears off and normal brain activity resumes. Are you feeling rich yet?

3.) People with stressful jobs and personal lives often use exercise as a form of emotional therapy when their shrink is unavailable, on vacation, or just ignoring their calls. They head to the gym hoping to clear their minds with vigorous exercise, but what they really need is a chance to unload their psychological baggage on an empathetic stranger. You can be that stranger—for a small fee, of course. Look for solo exercisers who appear emotionally unstable and are muttering things like, “Corporate reorganization? I’ll show him corporate reorganization!” Offer to spot them on the bench press and feign interest in their work/family/relationship troubles. As they pour out their heart to you, nod your head, furrow your brow, and throw in the occasional “How does that make you feel?” At some point during the session, casually mention your $30 per-hour rate. Soon, they’ll be seeing less red, and you’ll be seeing more green.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Running rebrand

Ever since I came up with my brilliant VICKtory idea (you’re welcome, Vicks), I’ve been thinking about all the ways that other existing companies could capitalize on the growing niche market of runners.

I mean, this blog averages at least 14 readers a day—clear evidence of a huge untapped consumer base. I’ve been around this sport long enough to know that there are plenty of crazies out there who will do almost anything to gain an edge over the competition, from slathering their legs with stinky bird oil to racing in creepy face masks (I’m talking to you, Galen Rupp).

I have taken the liberty of jumpstarting this new marketing strategy on behalf of several well-known brands. By making a few minor changes to their packaging designs, the companies that produce the following items could broaden their appeal to the running population. This would potentially allow them to advertise in running-specific publications, expand the scope of their retail sales outlets to include specialty running stores, and help them score lucrative sponsorship deals with popular racing events.

Here are a few rough prototypes I’ve come up with:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Rejection sucks.

Just ask any guy who ever had his tender teenage heart broken by his dream high school prom date. But after being turned down by Little Miss Popular, at least he could console himself with the knowledge that she and her blonde highlights were way, way out of his league.

Being rejected for jobs that I am totally qualified for, however, is a completely different story. It’s like being turned down by the girl who heads up the high school bird watching club and doesn’t brush her hair.

I graduated college with lofty expectations of immediately discovering and launching myself into my dream career. Several unreturned messages and a few middle fingers (both given and received) later, my outlook has turned from “Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde” to “Martin Short, Pure Luck.

Forget actual skilled positions—apparently, I’m not even qualified to be a secretary at the companies in my field due to my lack of professional experience with multi-line phones and Microsoft Office.

I’ve been told that I just need to tweak my résumé a bit—you know, buff up my qualifications and experience. In blunter terms, I need to lie.

The problem is, when people lie about work experience, they often get caught. Remember what happened to Al Gore when he claimed to have invented the Internet? I’m just not willing to risk that kind of humiliation. Plus, I’m a horrible liar. Even if I were able to fill my résumé with fake work history, I would almost certainly blow my cover in a face-to-face interview, which, I imagine, would go something like this:

Snooty Interviewer: So, tell me about your background and qualifications.

Me: Well, I graduated college with high honors, completed an undergraduate research project, became fluent in Spanish, and earned 12 varsity athletic letters.

Snooty Interviewer: Hmmm…I see. And tell me, did you acquire any experience using Microsoft Excel during your time as a secretary at…what was the name of the company?

Me: Oh, yeah, that was um…Technology Suppliers Unlimit—yeah, actually, I…um…well, I made that up.

To me, it seems entirely absurd that I would have to resort to fabricating experience with Microsoft Excel just to get an entry-level administrative job. No, I haven’t spent the last three years typing numbers into little rectangles, but give me ten minutes—I bet I could figure it out.

In fact, just to prove to myself, my potential employers, and anyone who has nothing better to do than read this blog that I am indeed capable of using Excel in a professional capacity, I have created a series of graphs derived from actual data I entered into an actual Excel spreadsheet. So put that in your chart and wizard it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Not a chance in hail

The UM track and field team hosted its home opener (the Al Manuel Invitational) yesterday in Missoula. I attended the meet and, in true has-been fashion, mingled with fellow spectators and offered them my (usually unsolicited) opinions about the day’s performances. I even used introductory phrases like, “You know, back when I was running for the Griz…” and “Well, in my day…”

I sounded like one of those old-timer track junkies who creep around at local meets, stalk the athletes, and try to talk strategy with them before their races. I’m glad I caught myself before I started rambling about my days of running the 440 on a dirt track.

I had left the house that morning fully expecting to have an emotional breakdown at some point during the day. I pictured myself totally losing it as the mid-distance girls lined up for the 800 meters. And yes, I will admit that my eyes were a little misty when the starting gun was fired. But it was the high-speed, hail-speckled gusts of wind—not lack of emotional control—that caused my eyes to well up involuntarily.

I bumped into my former coaches at several points throughout the meet. When I stopped to chat with the head coach, he asked me if it was hard for me to watch and not compete. I assured him that I was decidedly not jealous of the 800 runners who had to deal with a nasty headwind laced with tiny ice shards as they fought their way down the homestretch.

“Ahh, come on,” he teased. “There’s a little part of you that was just dying to be on that starting line.”

Well, maybe a little, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, Ryan Seacrest-sized part of me. For the most part, though, I was surprisingly content to stay dry and (sort of) warm underneath multiple layers of clothing as I snapped photos for the Montana Grizzlies website.

After scrolling through my shoot this morning, I breathed an audible sigh of relief at not seeing my own agony-distorted face somewhere among my hundreds of race photos. Maybe I’m just trying really hard to cope with the loss of my status as a hail-fighting-renegade-badass. But seriously, would you be dying to trade places with any of the following athletes?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Get in my belly

While perusing the message boards the other day, I stumbled upon an entry that piqued my interest.

Normally, I would hesitate to copy and paste directly from the forum, as the standards of English grammar and punctuation on this particular site tend toward the abysmal. But reading the crap—er, well-informed, valuable insight—consistently found on LetsRun is somewhat entertaining, especially if you can’t afford cable.

The comment in question, however, was refreshingly intelligible:

"I like to read some blogs of higher-level runners, including some females. One thing that strikes me about the female bloggers is how often some of them post pictures of their food. I’m sure it’s just me, but I wonder if some of them have eating issues."

My initial reaction was that the idea of eating food sort of runs contrary to the idea of eating disorders, so Mr. Stir-the-chili-pot really didn’t have much of an argument. My second reaction was that in my meticulous research of the running blogosphere, I had obviously missed this apparently pervasive trend.

I am a female, and I consider myself a higher-level has-been runner, so clearly I should be sharing my dietary choices with the entire online world. I immediately started compiling photo documentation of my daily menu. Here are some of this week’s highlights:

Taco pizza and Corona: a Mexican match made in Heaven. Muy sabroso.

Fritos and bean dip: a classic combination. (Notice the "All Natural" stamp on the bean dip. That means it counts as health food, right?)

Chocolate donut and milk: another timeless twosome.

OK, so it’s not the organic tofu stir-fry or egg white veggie omelette you would expect to find in the blog of a true elite runner. But the optimist in me likes to believe that there is nutritional value in any food, be it fruit salad or Fruit Loops.

Further analysis of my food photo diary led to the discovery of a previously unrecognized trend in my personal culinary preferences: I like eating things in pairs. There’s something very balanced and harmonious about a donut and a glass of milk. And who could deny that Fritos are the undeniable Yin to bean dip’s Yang?

So if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to IHOP. I hear they’re running a special on chicken and waffles.