Saturday, October 29, 2011


Well, I knew that knocking on wood wasn’t going to last forever. Eventually, my knuckles would get sore. Or I would get injured.

I am happy to report that all of my hand joints are in tip-top condition. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my left Achilles tendon.

What really grinds my gears is that I’m pretty sure I didn’t hurt it running. It’s been almost a year since my college career—a.k.a. five years of walking a string-thin tightrope between peak fitness and serious injury—went off the air, and I have definitely dialed back both the quantity and quality of my mileage.

The last few weeks have been particularly jog-tastic, as I find it difficult to coax my legs into moving quickly when it’s dark and 21 degrees outside. (For real ya’ll—could I get some daylight savings up in here?)

So, as a mature, responsible adult who appreciates the values of character and integrity, I have decided to pawn the blame off on someone else. And that someone is TSA.

That’s right, folks—the Transportation Security Administration has it out for fit, active individuals like you and me.

Imagine the following scenario: You’re in line at airport security. You have all of your liquids organized and safely zipped inside of a one-quart plastic bag. You have your laptop out of its case and ready for examination. You even remembered to wear pants that don’t require a belt, just to speed up the process so you can hurry up and wait in line some more.

Of course, airports are big, and you anticipated having to walk a fair distance once you arrive at your destination. So in the interest of comfort, you wore your running shoes. Big mistake.

Now you’re jamming up the line as you scramble to untie your double-knotted laces. The man behind you sighs loudly in an attempt to inform you of the inconvenience you have caused him, as it has now been close to 30 seconds since he removed his Denver Broncos Crocs, and he still hasn’t gone through the metal detector thingy yet.

The TSA agent rolls his eyes at you as you carefully place your prized pair of Asics Cumulus on the belt. When you collect your footwear and the rest of your possessions on the other side of the Wand Squad, you cause yet another logjam as you bend over to put your shoes back on and re-tie the laces. You’re pretty sure Croc guy gave you the finger as he huffed off to the C gates with his backpack on wheels.

And to think, all of this could have been avoided by wearing a simpler—albeit less supportive—pair of shoes.

So guess what? That’s what I did. I wore a pair of flimsy canvas flats through the entire Las Vegas airport. Then I wore them through a giant Las Vegas shopping mall. And when I cruised up and down the strip with the rest of the drunken tourists? Yep, I wore them then too.

But Brooke—you might ask—why didn’t you just wear your running shoes once you got to Vegas?

Because I’m already a pasty-ass Montanan who has no business wearing shorts in a town full of fake tans and, well, other fake things. So I wasn’t about to make myself even more of an aesthetic misfit by tromping around in a pair of dirty sneakers.

Well, then why didn’t you just pack another pair of cuter, more supportive shoes?

Because I had to cram everything I wanted to take into a tiny carry-on bag, since I’m cheap and I refused to pay $40 to have the airlines accidentally fly my bag to India (again). Supportive shoes tend to be more bulky, which is why they didn’t make the cut.

So, by way of deductive reasoning, airport security is 100 percent responsible for the stinging pain I feel at the base of my heel bone every time something—including the back of a shoe—touches it.

Are you happy now, TSA? You got your way—now I can’t wear any shoes with straps, buckles or laces. I am confined to clogs and Ugg boots, which severely limits my workout options (last time I checked, my gym didn’t offer any Irish clogging classes).

I’m stuck in the pool until further notice, which, among other things, means I will have bad hair until further notice. Stand by.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vegas vexation

You know how that famous scene from Chariots of Fire makes beach running seem like the epitome of fitness fun, when in reality it just gives you Achilles tendonitis and makes you smell like sweaty fish?

My weekend in Las Vegas was kind of like that.

Like many things in life, my Sin City experience didn’t exactly live up to all of the Hollywood hype.

I didn’t win a car. I didn’t get a suntan. I didn’t meet anyone famous (not even Criss Angel, Mindfreak). Wayne Newton didn’t invite me to ride horses at his sprawling desert retreat. I didn’t even get roofied or wake up with a jungle cat in the bathroom.

What I did do was:

(a) wander aimlessly down the strip, breathing in an ever-present vapor of cheap cologne and cigarette smoke.

(b) pay $12 for one freaking Mimosa, which I sipped while lounging on an upholstered poolside Chaise lounge that reeked of cheap cologne and cigarette smoke.

(c) run on a treadmill—despite the fact that it was 75 degrees outside—in a hotel fitness room that smelled like cheap cologne and cigarette smoke.

Why, you might wonder, would I resort to working out in such a respiratorily hostile environment, surrounded by greasy, hungover dudes in cutoff t-shirts?

Because if I had braved the streets of Vegas, I would not have gotten anywhere without running into:

(a) a horde of intoxicated tourists.

(b) a neighborhood where all of the buildings have metal bars over the doors and windows.

(c) Carrot Top.

To drive home my point, I have created the following chart. Do with it what you will.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Runner up

Forget all of that mental B.S. from my last post—after years and years of racing, I have finally found the key to motivation. It has nothing to do with state of mind and everything to do with tiny hands.

Last weekend, I let myself get roped into running another road race. OK, so I kind of wanted to do it anyway, mostly because I now have some sort of post-career complex that can only be mitigated by periodic racing ventures that prove I’ve “still got it.”

Since my last racing expedition was over two months ago, I figured I was sufficiently recovered and ready to go out there again and show everyone (read: no one who gives a good gosh darn) that I am still a formidable competitor.

Not to ruin it for you, but I ended up having my ass handed to me by over a minute. (The winner was a former teammate of mine and a nationally ranked track and field athlete, so I didn’t feel too bad. But still.)

Anyway, that is beside the point. Normally, I probably would have been crushed to suffer a loss by such an embarrassing margin. And normally, the time that I ended up posting—18:31 for 5K—would have required a fair amount of pain and suffering.

As I navigated the twists and turns of a rather hodge-podge course, however, I couldn’t help but smile. Yes, you read that correctly—smile.

The race was run in conjunction with the college homecoming parade. The gun went off just a few minutes before the line of floats, trucks and farm animals made its way down the spectator-lined streets.

I have to admit, at first I was a little nervous about having such a massive audience. In most of the road races I have run, the only people watching are course monitors and aid station volunteers speckled along the course at sporadic intervals.

But with this race, there were people everywhere. Cheering. Clapping. Foam-finger waving. Every now and then, a group of kids would step off of the curb and line up, arms outstretched, in hopes of getting high-fives from the runners. Hence, my smiling—I felt like a total rock star. Who cares if most of my fans were under the age of 10? They thought I was cool, and that was enough for me.

I didn’t even realize how fast I was running as I slapped hands with my droves of preadolescent fans, feeling like a slightly more feminine version of Justin Bieber.

Before I knew it, I was sprinting across the finish line and having a $50 gift card (hells yeah!) thrust into my sweaty hands as a reward for my amazing second-place performance.

Yep, still got it.