Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hit and run

Just for fun, I’m going to veer from the usual and start this post off with something a little bit different: a poll. Ready? OK, here goes:

Have you ever witnessed a motor vehicle accident?

Note: When I first wrote this, I was under the assumption that I could embed an actual poll question— with results computation and everything—into the body of this post. However, I am apparently too technologically inept to crack the code (pun intended) on Internet polls, which I find slightly worrisome considering that I work in digital media. Hopefully I did not list “Internet poll administration” as a skill on my resume. I must make a note to confirm that. Anyway, I’m too committed to this intro to revise it now, so let’s just think of this as a rhetorical poll. But feel free to write down your answer or say it out loud or even leave it as a comment.

My follow-up question to that inquiry would be: Have you ever witnessed a motor vehicle accident 4.8 miles into a 5-mile run in 100-degree heat? What’s that? You haven’t? I didn’t think so. I win. (Yes, in my ultra-competitive world, you can win at polls.)

I had been running for approximately 35 minutes when it happened. As you might imagine, I was extremely sweaty and even more extremely thirsty. I only had another two blocks to go when I approached the last intersection before my apartment. The light was green and the walk sign was illuminated, so I picked up the pace to make sure I got through the crosswalk before the light changed. (Remember, I was sweaty, thirsty, and definitely in no mood to stop for an entire light cycle.)

Just as I was about to step into the street, I noticed that there was a vehicle in the left turn lane. It was creeping into the oncoming lane of traffic, and I wasn’t entirely certain that the driver saw me. So, despite being in a fire-ass hurry to get across the street—and I say that in a completely non-figurative sense, because it was 100 degrees out and my ass was quite literally on fire—I jolted to a stop to let the driver execute her turn.

Just as I came to a halt, she saw me and slammed on her brakes—at which point a car in the oncoming lane zoomed through the light and smacked right into her driver’s side headlight, smashing it to smithereens and sending a confetti of automotive shrapnel flying through the air. I drew my sweat-covered hands to my sweat-covered face and gasped.

Here is what went through my head in the first few seconds after the wreck:

  1. Holy shit!
  2. I hope no one is hurt.
  3. What do I do?
At that point, another witness to the accident pulled up to the sidewalk next to me and got out of his car.

“Did you see it too?” he asked.

I nodded, still in shock. He then sprung into action, checking to make sure both drivers were OK and offering to help in any way he could. I just stood there like a dumb-dumb.

In my defense, I was incredibly dehydrated and a little light-headed. I noticed goosebumps forming on my arms and legs—a sure sign of heat stress. Still, despite clearly being in the early stages of heat exhaustion, I knew I had to stick around to give a statement because I’m a good citizen and it was the right thing to do. On a more selfish note, I knew this story was going to make for a super entertaining blog post.

By the time we had established that no one was injured, my dizziness had subsided and I started to get my wits about me. My mind raced with thoughts, questions, and concerns—many of them slightly inappropriate in the context of the situation at hand. Here are the highlights:

  1. Are those firemen ever going to offer me some water? (They did not.)
  2. Oh my god, I ran through two giant gnat swarms and I probably have insect carcasses plastered all over my disgusting, sweaty face.
  3. What if I have to give a statement to the police? What if they send a really good-looking cop and he’s totally grossed out by my disgusting dead-bug face? What if I smell? (At this point, I performed a discreet armpit check and discovered that I only smelled a little.)
The cop who did show up was not only inexcusably late to the scene (it took him about 40 minutes to get there), but also inexcusably dickish. As he took the left-turner’s statement, she indicated that she couldn’t recall all of the details and that he should probably ask me about it because I had the whole thing recorded in my memory in perfect slow motion. We’re talking iPhone 5s-quality.

So, I launched into a very animated, incredibly accurate account of what had occurred, and this cop—who, by the way, looked like the goddamn missing link in human evolution—put up his hand and cut me off mid-sentence with, “We’ll get to you. Let her finish talking.”

I wish with all my heart that I had come up with a clever retort right on the spot—something like, “OK, right after I let you finish evolving, Officer Cro-Magnon!”—but instead, I simply raised my insect-dotted eyebrows and shot him the most disapproving glare I could muster. I cannot be sure if he saw said glare; it is possible that his field of vision was obscured by his frighteningly prominent brow line.

After talking to both drivers, he retired to his air-conditioned cruiser to spend 20 additional minutes entering the information into his computer. We continued to stand in the hot sun. He did not seem the least bit concerned about this.

Then, much to our relief, an angelic Mexican woman who lived in the apartment complex immediately adjacent to the scene of the accident yelled down to us from her balcony: “Would you like some water?”

“Yes! Please! Por favor!” we shouted from below.

She proceeded to drop several ice-cold bottles of water into our hands, thus restoring my faith in humanity.

Around this time, the driver of the other vehicle struck up a friendly conversation with me. As we talked, I took stock of his nice teeth and his toned, muscular physique. He was very attractive and very personable. When he asked me for my phone number “for insurance purposes,” I briefly fantasized that he actually intended to use it “for cocktail invitation purposes.” Later, after returning home and discovering the true gravity of my dead bug situation, it became indubitably clear that he would do nothing more with my digits than pass them along to his Allstate agent.

When Deputy D-bag finally emerged from his climate-controlled environment, he half-heartedly asked for my “version of events.” Was this guy serious? What I was about to describe was not my “version” of what happened—it was what fucking happened! What in Tim Tebow's name would I gain from distorting the truth? Furthermore, I had just spent the last hour of my life standing on a street corner in a sweaty sports bra while making small talk with total strangers and completely sabotaging my weeks-long effort to even out my tan lines in preparation for an upcoming wedding.

I gritted my teeth and somehow managed to keep my composure. I gave him a detailed play-by-play, speaking slowly and using small words so as not to confuse him. And then, thankfully, I was dismissed to return home—which meant recruiting my stiff, electrolyte-depleted muscles to plow through another quarter-mile.

Still, despite the inconvenience, I took pride in my good citizenry. Don’t worry, I won’t let my heroic exploits go to my head—although I might wear a cape for a couple of days.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How to increase your training motivation in one easy step

Let’s face it: finding the motivation to hit the road can be a tall order for even the most dedicated runners—especially when they are forced to choose between a grueling training session and a leisurely social engagement. Are you going to tell me that Paula Radcliffe has never been tempted to ditch a mile repeats in favor of getting bloody right bladdered with her best mates? Bollocks!

But, as any experienced dieter will tell you, the best way to stay on track with a plan is to eliminate the temptation to stray from it. If there is no Nutella in the cupboard, there is no chance that you will spoon-shovel the entire jar of said Nutella into that vacuum of self-control you call a mouth, thus completely sabotaging the four ounces of lean protein and steamed vegetables you just choked down.

Similarly, if you eliminate the opportunity to go out, you will significantly reduce your chances of abandoning a run to barhop with your pals. And the best way to do that—the titular “one easy step,” if you will—is to completely isolate yourself from anyone with whom you have friendly relations. If you live upwards of 30 minutes away from your nearest friend, you’ll be much less likely to give into the urge to get your party on, which in turn makes you much more likely to resort to filling your free time with a nice, long run instead.  

Like, let’s say—hypothetically, of course—that a casual Internet search for nearby live music shows reveals that the “valley’s best Tom Petty cover band” will be playing at a bar less than two blocks away from your apartment—tonight! This piques your interest because Tom Petty—one of the greatest classic rock musicians of the last quarter century—is one of your favorite musical artists of all time, and the next best thing to seeing Tom Petty live and in concert is seeing the valley’s best Tom Petty cover band live and in concert.

However, further research on the concert venue—in the form of several exceptionally eloquent Yelp reviews—yields a slightly unsettling consensus: it’s a “total dive biker bar.” Unsure of what to do, you again turn to the Internet for advice because hey, you’re a blogger, and you know what you’re talking about at least 40 percent of the time. So there has to be someone out there with some insightful advice on the subject of young women frequenting drinking establishments alone. You enter the query “can women go out to bars alone” into the Google search field and hit enter. Upon perusing the results, you make the shocking discovery that when a woman goes into a bar alone, she’s sometimes assumed to be—get ready for this—a prostitute!   

And just like that, your dreams of rocking along to “Won’t Back Down” are dead in the proverbial water because—ironically—when it comes to prostitution (or even the semblance of prostitution), you will back down. On the plus side—there’s always a silver lining, folks!—once the option of going out is wiped off the table, running becomes a viable form of evening entertainment. More than viable, actually. As illustrated by the charts below, it is in fact the preferred choice.



Plus, depending on the intensity level of your workout, the end result could be very similar to what you might experience after a night of heavy drinking. You’ll feel tired, dehydrated, dizzy, and possibly even a bit nauseous. The only difference is that you won’t wake up with a hangover the next morning (yep, there’s that silver lining again!).