When I was sixteen years old, I worked a summer for my uncle in Wilson, NC, mowing lawns — commercial and residential (one memory I will never ever be able to erase from my mind is the odor of one of my uncle’s clients: a pig rendering plant).
Toward the end of the summer, my uncle took me aside and gave me some advice. “Elden,” he said, “I have never in my life met someone who is as easy to read as you. Everyone always knows what you’re thinking, and what you’re feeling, before you ever say a word.”
He went on to tell me that I needed to learn to present a neutral expression, to be able to look interested when I’m not, to look happy when I’m angry.
I did not take his advice then, and I never really have since, either. Whether in person or when I write, it’s pretty obvious to most everyone how I’m doing.
And judging from the comments I’ve read the past couple days, it’s obvious to a lot of you that I’m seeing someone I’ve referred to as “The Runner.” Furthermore, it’s obvious that I’m pretty darned happy.
So let me introduce her to you a little less obliquely.
First off, The Runner definitely is a runner. She’s run several marathons (3:33 in her most recent one a couple months ago). She runs several times a week, and has for about ten years.
However, calling her “The Runner” because she runs is a horribly misleading nickname. See, she is also a cyclist — both road and mountain. She’s done Lotoja, a popular 200+-mile road race. And — much more importantly (in my mind) — she’s done the Leadville 100…five times. And she just sent in her application for number six.
Here she is, with the bike she’s planning on riding:
Guys, I’d like you to please stop checking her out for a moment, and look at the bike.
Superfly. Singlespeed. Yeah.
So: a hot chick that rides a 29″ singlespeed mountain bike, and loves the race I love.
Gee, what a surprise that I’m attracted to her.
Waitasec, what was I supposed to be talking about here? Oh right, her name. See, between the road biking, the mountain biking, the swimming — more on that in a second — the lifting, and the yoga, nicknaming someone “The Runner” seems kind of limiting. Almost as odd as calling someone “Fatty” just because he’s got a middle-aged gut, even though said Fatty is also a handsome, multiple-award-winning superstar internet cycle blogging megastar celebrity. With his own line of apparel, thank you very much.
OK, I’ve lost my train of thought again. Where was I? Right, her name. It’s Lisa.
But I think I’ll still mostly refer to her as The Runner. Since she calls me “Fatty” in real life. Which isn’t necessarily as flattering as you might think.
The Runner has been a Friend of Fatty since there was ever such a thing. Check it out, she’s got a first-edition Fat Cyclist jersey (only 250 of them in existence) and everything:
I gotta say, though, I like this picture better:
As you can see in this photo, she loves being photographed, repeatedly. She’s not irritated with me here at all.
The truth is, though, she’s been a good friend — both to Susan and me — for about fifteen years. Which means there’s been an — um, interesting — mix of oddness about being in a relationship with a woman who has always been just a good friend, combined with relief that you don’t have to worry about whether the person you’re seeing is actually who they seem to be.
I.e., I already know she’s a smart, funny, hardcore athlete with varied interests and a no-nonsense attitude. She knows I’m a goofy dork who gets fat each winter and never thinks about anything but bicycles.
Gee, I wonder who got the short end of the stick?
The Runner is a nurse, working in the Pain Service team at a local hospital. You would think that would be an incredibly useful skill for me to leverage, but whenever I complain of achiness, she just tells me to take ibuprofen.
Seriously, I have to say that her being a nurse is one of the things I really, really like about Lisa. If the past five years has taught me anything about the medical world, it’s that nurses are its backbone, muscle and heart.
And I am perfectly willing to stand by and defend that mixed metaphor.
Of course, nobody is perfect. And The Runner’s problem is: she’s interested in triathlons. And not just any. She’s currently training, in fact, for the St. George Ironman this May.
Honestly, though, I’m excited for this event — much more excited for it than if I were going to do it myself. It will be fun to be able to sleep comfortably the night before a big race, and then cheer her on, offering useful and practical advice. Such as, “Keep your chin up!” and “Only 14 hours to go!”
Yeah, I know. You’re thinking, “What a lucky gal.”
Dating The Runner has broadened my horizons. Sort of. Mainly, as I desperately try to keep up, I’ve discovered that I really like trail running. Enough, in fact, that I have signed up to run a marathon with her in a few months.
Partly because the training gives me a way to spend more time with The Runner, and partly because I just cannot stand another winter of riding the rollers.
This will be my last long post until after the new year. I’m taking my family — along with The Runner and her family — to New York, where we are all going into full-on tourist mode. I plan to take photos and post short notes from time to time, but the truth is, I’ll be in vacation mode and may not post anything at all.
It’s been a helluva year — about as awful of one as I could imagine in some ways, but with some incredible high notes as well. Right now, I’m genuinely happy — I think it shows in this blog — and I owe a lot of that to The Runner.
Thanks for sticking with me through 2009. I hope you have a Merry Christmas (or a good whatever-you-celebrate), and a great start to 2010.
A Plea For Votation from Fatty: As you know, I am an extremely vain man. I have purchased a special high-optic mirror, constructed for its perfect reflection, so that I can see exactly how handsome I am as I stare in that (very expensive) mirror for hours. I go to only the finest salons to have my hair styled. I wear the fanciest clothing REI has to offer.
I shave my legs twice per day.
This kind of vanity doesn’t feed itself. Well, actually it kinda does to an extent, but work with me here, because I’m leading up to a point:
My vanity must be fueled.
By awards. Lots and lots of awards. Acknowledgement that I am not merely awesome, but somehow more awesome than other bloggers. And I cannot do this without you.
It’s absurdly easy to do. Click here to go to the voting page on the site, scroll down to the voting widget, select my blog, and then click the “Cast Your Vote” button.
No registration, captcha nonsense, or anything like that. Easy as pie. And you’ll be able to sleep easy tonight, knowing you’ve done your part to sate the ravenous beast that is my vanity.
For the moment.
What It’s Not Too Late to Put in a Cyclist’s Stocking
Each year, I put together a list of stuff cyclists might like to get as Christmas presents. Ordinarily, I publish this list in plenty of time for you to order online, browse your local bike shops, and otherwise comparison shop.
This time it didn’t work out that way. I’ve been kinda sorta preoccupied with that little “Win a Whole Truckload of Awesomeness and Send Me to Team RadioShack” saga.
But you know what? I think that’s a good thing. Because I’m guessing there are a few of you who haven’t bought gifts for the cyclist in your life. And by “cyclist in your life,” I am of course including yourself.
This year, we’re going to focus on small things — stuff that fits in a stocking. And since it’s a little late to do mail order, we’re also going to keep it down to things that can be bought at your Local Bike Shop.
And they deserve and need your business anyways.
So let’s get started.
And when your cyclist compliments you on your awesome stocking-stuffer prowess, please take all the credit for yourself. That’s my gift to you.
A Riding With the Shack Note from Fatty: The fourth and final episode from my weekend with Team RadioShack has been posted. Check it out here:
It’s the feel-good movie of the Winter!
I should (and am about to) point out that I still have footage from the helmetcam and footage from the Flip camera to go through; I plan to make a homemade video of my own this week.
With rock and roll in the background even! (I am taking soundtrack suggestions now.)
It occurs to me that there might be someone who might want to watch this series together, in order. Here are the links to the episodes, for your convenience.
Again, thank you to everyone who donated and participated in this crazy adventure.
I Am Excellent At Wrapping Presents Up
Ordinarily, I love everything about Christmas except for one thing: wrapping presents. I can’t cut straight lines in the wrapping paper. I can’t seem to get the paper to be the right size for the present and usually wind up patching the bare spots on the box with extra pieces of paper — usually of a different color and pattern. Whenever I tear off a piece of tape it immediately sticks to itself: sticky side to sticky side, a bond so powerful it takes lasers to separate them.
I give myself paper cuts.
That all said, I’m quite pleased with the way I wrapped up the gift I’m giving The Runner (click image for stunning, beautifully larger image detailing my exquisite wrapping and taping technique).
She’s never gonna guess what’s inside.
PS: No, it’s not the Madone.
And at long (OK, not that long) last — here’s the video from the ride itself:
Have a great weekend!