Ruminations on the Prime of My Life (The Marathon Chronicles, Part III)

01.29.2010 | 12:10 pm

A Final “Vote for Me” Note from Fatty: This is the last time I’m gonna ask (mainly because voting closes this Sunday): Go vote for me for the 2010 Bloggies. I’m nominated in the Best Sports Blog, the Best Writing, and the Blog of the Year categories, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t have even the hope of a wish of the notion of a prayer in any category but the Best Sports Blog.


Well, because in the Best Writing and Blog of the Year categories, I’m up against blogs which have crossed what I call The Professional Threshold — blogs where people either do or could make a living with their blogs (I, on the other hand, make just enough money with my blog to be a nuisance at tax time). For Blog of the Year, I’m against Pioneer Woman – which gets my monthly traffic, cubed, every single day. I’m also against The Huffington Post, which has an actual staff. Please vote for Pioneer Woman, because, honestly, she really does have the blog of the year. If not decade.

For the Best Writing category, I’m pitched against Pioneer Woman (again!), as well as Bike Snob NYC. I’d like you to vote for Bike Snob for this one, for a couple of reasons. First, he’s a genuinely good writer. Second, because it will make me feel better about myself when I ask you to vote for me (instead of him) for the Best Sports Blog category.

For the Best Sports category, I’m up against two friends: Bike Snob and Jill. Instead of being all humble and aw-shucks about it, I’m going to be honest: I really want you to vote for me. And so does my hero, Johan Bruyneel. That should be enough reason for anyone (Thanks, Johan!).

Click here to go to the Bloggies site, select your choices, do the ridonkulus captcha verification thingy, and then don’t forget to validate your vote when the email comes.


One Week From Tomorrow

Next Saturday — February 6 — I will attempt the Death Valley Trail Marathon, after training for it just six weeks.

To my surprise, I feel pretty good about my chances.

Part of my optimism comes from the fact that last weekend, The Runner and I did a 15-mile run, from my house to about half a mile past the four-way stop at the top of Suncrest, and then back home. For those of you who aren’t locals, that means that after a three mile mostly-flat warmup, we climbed 1500 feet in 4.5 miles, then turned around and ran home. I had to walk for a minute during the last three miles, but only once, and only for a minute (during which The Runner peeled off to the side of the road and scooped a bunch of snow into her mouth).

Even with that big climb, we averaged almost exactly ten-minute miles. And the next day, though tired, I was not sore. Anywhere.

Tomorrow (Saturday) — a week from the marathon itself — we will run 18 miles, but this time it will be on mostly flat pavement.

I know, I know. The runners among you all know this is not advisable. That we’re not tapering here. But it will accomplish something much more important than a taper for me: running 18 miles on pavement, at high altitude, will give me confidence that I can run a trail marathon at low altitude.

The next part of my optimism comes from a pretty serious incentive I’ve rashly given myself: I have made $3902 worth of bets that I will beat my previous time (4:39, seven years ago) at this race.

Basically, if I run a good race, a bunch of you will have to donate around $3900 to my LiveStrong Challenge. If I fail or bail, then I need to come up with that $3900 myself.

I should point out here that when The Runner read about the bet I had just made in The Marathon Chronicles, Part II, she was not super-thrilled. “You know,” she said, “We had agreed that we were just going to cruise this thing. Run when we feel like it, walk when we feel like it. And now you’ve gone and made a hundred or so bets that you’re going to be fast.”

I shrugged and gave her a charming, apologetic smile. It was all I had to offer, defense-wise.

Ladies, please take a moment to sympathize for and pity The Runner. It cannot be easy to be in a relationship with a guy who makes pretty much everything he does into a public bet, a spectacle, or a farce.

My Ace in the Hole

The real reason I think I’ll do fine in the marathon next week is: I’m middle-aged.

Seriously, being middle-aged is a huge bonus in endurance events, whether you’re on a bike or on foot.

There are some important reasons why.

  • You’ve accepted pain and repetitive drudgery as an aspect of your life. Probably, you’ve even embraced it as an indicator that you are in fact still alive. And if you’re really messed up, you even start seeking out pain and repetitive drudgery because you somehow have gotten it confused with feeling more alive. And by “you,” I of course actually mean “me.”
  • It temporarily makes you feel less old. When I was a kid, I would — on impulse — sometimes run or ride my bike around the block, over and over, just for fun. Just because it felt great to be in motion. In general, I no longer have that impulse. I am quite content to sit for hours on end. However, once I get myself in motion, I find that I still like it, and that while it doesn’t make me feel like a kid, it at least makes me feel like less of an old fart.
  • It’s the only way you’re going to beat the kids. A couple days ago, one of my daughters, knowing that I have been running lately, brought over one of her friends — a tiny, wiry little girl. And told me I had to race her. To the house across the street and back. OK, fine. I found, right there and then, that I am not able to run an impromptu sprint — by the end of the run my back hurt, and the kid beat me by about twenty feet. But I promise you that if we had made the run ten miles, I would have demolished that seven-year-old.
  • You’re happy to discover you can still do something. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: when I said that, after my big crash at Leadville last year, I came away uninjured, I think I was probably wrong. As it turns out, six months later my left sitbone still hurts if I sit in a chair for more than half an hour. And when I run, my left foot lands flat, with a “slap” sound. And of course, I have other aches and pains. But when I do the repetitive motion of running or riding, I’m able to circumvent these aches and pains by using careful, pre-planned motions. Kind of like walking a minefield you’ve walked a hundred times before.

In short, endurance sports let me simulate athleticism in spite of being a creaky and achy old man. And that is why I will totally kick butt at the marathon next week.

Except I’m not entirely certain my list did much in the way of convincing myself.


  1. Comment by Philly Jen | 01.29.2010 | 12:15 pm


  2. Comment by Jo | 01.29.2010 | 12:17 pm

    Good luck!

  3. Comment by Philly Jen | 01.29.2010 | 12:20 pm

    (Well, that temporarily made me feel less old.)

    I’m running my first half-marathon (just outside Savannah) the same morning you take on Death Valley. So, with any luck, I will feel only half as old as you.

    Team Fatty, coast-to-coast!

  4. Comment by Papa Bradstein | 01.29.2010 | 12:24 pm

    By your reasoning, I should be the first to finish the Pan Mass Challenge this year then…except that I think most of the riders will also be as middle aged as I am.

    RE: pain and drudgery…it is nice to know that all these years in the cube farm do pay off in the real world.

  5. Comment by robert orler | 01.29.2010 | 12:32 pm

    Funny thing is in two weeks I do my first marathon ever and later this year I turn 40. Fatty you are so right when you say it makes you feel young. last year i did a couple tri’s and everytime I past a youngin I would yell out “come on young buck, I am an old man” this somehow made me feel like the “Stud in my dreams”. By the way that is a sharp lookin guy in the banner pick wearing exclusive pink fatty shirt

  6. Comment by Claire | 01.29.2010 | 12:44 pm

    I totally believe you. Oh the amusement I got from your girls bringing home a kid for you to race. I hope they keep this up and bring home more things for your to compete against. Next doors dog, random teenager, a bunny rabbit…they could then plot out where you fall on the speed scale “Fatty faster than a rabbit, slower than wiry kid down the street”

    Come on it’s fun AND educational!!

  7. Comment by Heidi Swift - Grit and Glimmer | 01.29.2010 | 12:50 pm

    Beating kids is not to be underestimated!
    Never did I feel more dominating than last year when I took my 11-year-old nephew out for a bike ride and ran him into the ground.
    Playground tactics, man. Pick the little ones to crush.
    I dig.
    Good luck, Fatty.
    We’re looking forward to some toasty-posty funny goodness when you return.

  8. Comment by Superstantial | 01.29.2010 | 12:53 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, if Fatty wins best sports blog this year, that makes three – which puts him in the Hall of Fame.
    This blog is awesome, but I’m voting for him out of pure self-interest – if he wins this year, I’ll never have to vote for him in this category again.

  9. Comment by Sasha | 01.29.2010 | 1:10 pm

    Dang. I was hoping you’d have to contribute to MY Livestrong account. :) Oh well. Poor Runner! I do sympathize with her. Though, actually, my husband would probably be more sympathetic. I don’t have a blog but I have Twitter (AK_Chick) and I have Facebook so I’m always writing about something. My poor husband. And I’m the one running off and doing events like 2-day 162 mile bike rides and Livestrong events for which I don’t know how I’ll pay for airfare or lodging…or insisting on bringing my bike to Hawaii…and we’ve only rode twice (to be fair, it’s freaking hot here – 84 deg and I’m coming from a state where it’s been UNDER 30 degrees for the past 3 months).

    Anyway, I think you’ll do just fine. I have to say that for the marathons I did, I never ran more than 19 miles in a training run and most of them I usually only ran about 15. I never bonked (well except for the first which was in Hawaii, but I had poor training and hadn’t discovered ibuprofen). Anyhow, I’m ready to pony up $25. :)



  10. Comment by the slow runner | 01.29.2010 | 1:13 pm

    the best preparation for performing well is to sit around and tell people of your past exploits, leadville, kokopelli trail, etc. while drinking chocolate milk. That should be good for the confidence and regeneration.

  11. Comment by km | 01.29.2010 | 1:16 pm

    You got schooled by a 7 yr. old???!!! Why didn’t you just hip check her down claiming incidental contact??? Old age and treachery is what keeps me ahead of my kids. I tell my son I have size/weight advantage until he’s at least 15 then I get to cheat and I’ve been cheating a lot longer than he’ll have been alive. Toughen up Fatty and join the legions of 40-somethings who strive to keep the whipper-snappers in line while systematically destroying their self-esteem! Hey,… therapists have to eat to, if we don’t do our part to give kids inferiority complexes what will all the mental health professionals do in 20 years? Have a heart.

  12. Comment by Isaac | 01.29.2010 | 1:40 pm

    “If You Want to Make an Omelet, You Must Be Willing to Break a Few Eggs.” — Lenin

    Go get ‘em fatty

  13. Comment by AngieG | 01.29.2010 | 1:44 pm

    I tell my kids all the time, you may be younger, but I’m scrappy! I agree, nothing feels better than crushing the younger generation. I know I should be more concerned with their developing egos, but the devastation will make them stronger people.
    I wish we could get the runner to don the helmet cam. Video and a little Chariots of Fire music…Fatty finishing, the drama of the time clock imposed in the upper corner of the screen. Its Oscar worthy material.

    Good Luck, Have fun and know we will all be virtually cheering for you next Saturday.

    KM- a fellow hockey fan, the hip check comment is classic. :-)

  14. Comment by Mike J | 01.29.2010 | 1:50 pm

    Did you end up betting the 7 year old you raced against?

  15. Comment by plum | 01.29.2010 | 2:07 pm

    Good luck FC. I’m OK with your logic. Trail running is a lot more taxing than pavement.

  16. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 01.29.2010 | 2:08 pm

    I don’t think it was the age but the fact that you raced a girl. You’ve been losing to The Runner, so how could you expect to beat a tiny, wiry little girl?

    Girls Rule!

  17. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.29.2010 | 2:16 pm

    “But when I do the repetitive motion of running or riding, I’m able to circumvent these aches and pains…”

    You mean, because EVERYthing hurts?

  18. Comment by Joel P. | 01.29.2010 | 2:37 pm

    I am confident you will do well, mainly because being a few years older than you I have no choice but to embrace your logic. Good luck next weekend. I will be cheering you on while continuing my “I AM NOT DOING AN IRONMAN” training at home.
    Joel P.
    P.S. I too am a fan of a well timed hip check.

  19. Comment by bikemike | 01.29.2010 | 2:59 pm

    Death Valley Trail Marathon, yep, i’d say they named it correctly. They just put the word “Trail” in there to throw us off.

  20. Comment by JB | 01.29.2010 | 3:10 pm

    Fatty, way to take on the 7 year old girl athlete demographic. I’m sure you let her (wink) win.

  21. Comment by Terry in Indiana | 01.29.2010 | 3:10 pm

    Looking forward to hearing about the race…good luck! Can I run the race VICARIOUSLY through you??? I’m hurting just thinking about it…

  22. Comment by Marlys | 01.29.2010 | 3:42 pm

    Good luck Fatty! I just know you are going to blow right past all those other runners – you can do it! Go Fatty Go! Middle-aged rocks!

  23. Comment by judi | 01.29.2010 | 4:23 pm

    18 miles a week before the 26.2? you are nuts! maybe you should enter the leadville 50 miler fatty! woooo!

  24. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 01.29.2010 | 5:13 pm

    Well best of Luck. If I can help here you are just creaky and achy. Plenty of us on here are more mature than you age wise but we are not old. You’ve a long way to go before your old and you seem to have the achy and creaky bit covered so it’s all good.

    I may have missed it who or what won the Rasmossen bidon and what was the best use for them other than drinking out of?

  25. Comment by Jeff | 01.29.2010 | 5:15 pm

    When people were doubting you a few weeks ago, I thought “that’s doable, surely Fatty can pull this off.”

    But now, the more I think about it…

    You’re doomed.

  26. Comment by Joel | 01.29.2010 | 6:56 pm

    Good luck. After checking out the race I’ve added the route as a leg for a southwest bike tour I’m looking at doing in the not too distant future.

  27. Comment by Karen | 01.29.2010 | 10:14 pm

    OMG your not tapering?!?!?

    No worries- your not trying to qualify for Boston, PR, or anything else crazy like that. (ok, maybe your trying to PR). Its gona hurt, but you will be fine. Good luck!!

  28. Comment by BionicCyclist | 01.29.2010 | 11:57 pm

    Votes submitted.
    I live in Vegas, so who knows, maybe I`ll make the trip out and cheer for you next weekend.

  29. Comment by DrBryce | 01.30.2010 | 12:06 am

    Uhhh…. “I think I was probably wrong. As it turns out, six months later my left sitbone still hurts if I sit in a chair for more than half an hour. And when I run, my left foot lands flat, with a “slap” sound. And of course, I have other aches and pains. But when I do the repetitive motion of running or riding, I’m able to circumvent these aches and pains by using careful, pre-planned motions.”

    I’d like to change my offer of complimentary diagnostic services ($450) to insure you run with an even balance and gait to avoid injury. Your statement of “foot slap” indicates either nerve damage and loss of control of your dorsi-flexors or a serious misalignment.

    Contact me post-marathon to pay up on the injury payment of $50 we agreed upon, or to collect on the diagnostic services to correct your gait and balance so you’ll be ready to begin the riding season with an even pedal stroke and alignment.

    Good luck next weekend! I really hope your misalignment survives the 26.2 without impact on your riding season and future adventures. Can’t wait for details.

  30. Comment by Grueny | 01.30.2010 | 12:45 am

    Your 4 important reasons have convinved me so much that you’re going to finish, I just donated the first $26.20 to your LS. I’m sure I’ll be donating more after you cross the finish based on your time.

    And I hope I’m not looking for it to be refunded to my son’s charity.

  31. Comment by Tina Z | 01.30.2010 | 7:58 am

    I had to laugh at your logic, I feel the same way as I get older! Elite athletes, young and old, know that at least half the battle is mental. For that reason alone, you will beat that old time.

    And I totally understand why The Runner is slightly upset with you, since you will be doing everything you can to beat that old time! You changed her race strategy for her without asking, you owe her.

  32. Comment by Joanie | 01.30.2010 | 9:27 am

    I voted for you!! Good luck next week….

  33. Comment by Fexy01 | 01.30.2010 | 9:54 am

    18 Today, one week out from the race? Ever heard of a taper?

  34. Comment by MikeL | 01.30.2010 | 10:47 am

    Just remember that without pain how would you know whether you are alive or not.

    Just remember that the treachery part of age works well with seven year olds, for awhile. My son would challenge me to a race to the end of the driveway and back. I would go ten feet and wait. When he reached the end and turned around I would be waiting and ask him what took him so long. I actually got away with that several times before he wised up.

  35. Comment by judi | 01.30.2010 | 1:44 pm

    we want to see more pictures of you and the runner. :)

  36. Comment by Frank | 01.30.2010 | 7:23 pm

    I think you should have someone look at the foot slap. This may indicate nerve damage. Combined with the sit bone pain, it indicates there may be compression in the spinal column. How bad was that crash and where did you hit?

  37. Comment by Kathryn | 01.30.2010 | 8:29 pm

    Good luck! I’m a cyclist running my first half-marathon on February 14th – but I didn’t go with the crash training method! You’re brave!

  38. Comment by protoceratops | 01.30.2010 | 9:06 pm

    Hey Fatman

    Left you a wager on 1.17 or thereabouts as a comment under Marathon II but I may have dreamt the whole thing. Didn’t see it there. Anyway, offer is still good.
    You run the DVTM in under 4:39 and I kick in the customary $26.2. If you are slower, or DNF, you come and ride the Death Valley Road Stage Race, an event I put on, and I donate anyway. 6.12-13.2010.

    May see you out there next weekend. I actually fill up the orange and black FC jersey in XL…

  39. Comment by Dobovedo | 01.30.2010 | 11:30 pm

    I would like to propose that Philly Jen, and ONLY Philly Jen, should be allowed to get away with calling out firsties on blog comments. It takes a certain personality.

    Despite a number of injuries/strains, I was doing great in my marathon training, right up to 15 miles, and I did it over 8 months. I cannot WAIT to hear how this one turns out. Best of lucky Fatty! I think you’ll do great because you simply refuse to be aware that you’re not supposed to do great. Delusion can be a wonderful thing. No matter what, it’s gonna be a great read. Kick some a$$!

  40. Comment by Mike Roadie | 01.31.2010 | 7:11 am

    Run, Elden, run!!!

    Think of the coming week off as a taper period!

    You can do it!

    Good luck!

  41. Comment by Philly Jen | 02.1.2010 | 12:39 pm

    (Normally I wouldn’t, but consider it my Valentine to “ant1″ and the BSNYC gang…)

  42. Comment by Born 4Lycra | 02.1.2010 | 9:01 pm

    Number One you are a clown.

  43. Comment by Cindy | 02.1.2010 | 11:21 pm

    Wow, the Pioneer Woman IS amazing and SHOULD get Blog of the Year! I don’t even like Texas and I like her blog a lot. And yes, I’ll vote for you to win Sports Blog of the year.

  44. Comment by Donna | 02.2.2010 | 12:22 am

    lolololol. I see I am not the only fool. In January, with five previous marathons behind me (more than five years ago) I joined my daughter in the Walt Disney World marathon (her first)… me with no running training this time. My medical boot (which I have to wear 24/7 for at least another week) and I are laughing at you, but we do hope you fare better than we did. I died at mile 8 and they took my red face and me back to the hotel. …stretch your calves…

  45. Comment by Donna | 02.2.2010 | 12:23 am

    pee ess: the daughter finished the marathon. She trained.

  46. Comment by MattC | 02.2.2010 | 9:47 am

    “in spite of being a creaky and achy old man.”

    Fatty…I’ll let YOU in on a little secret here: you are what, about to turn 43? Dude…you’ve just BEGUN to feel like a ‘creaky and achy old man’. I turn 50 this year and I can tell you this: all those crashes (and other stupid things you’ve done and thought you got away with uninjured)?? Well, you didn’t. They will ALL come back to haunt you. You WILL pay for them all, and the payments increase with age (so to speak). But hey…good luck this coming weekend…I truly hope it’s not an event you that you will pay for later. Time will tell. Run like the wind Buttercup!

  47. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 02.2.2010 | 4:50 pm

    Thanks for outlining all my reasons so clearly! You do have a lovely way with logic. And words.

  48. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 02.3.2010 | 4:31 am

    Fatty, that offer I made to you (I hesitate to call it a bet) was a one-way deal. I pay when you finish. Period.

    If for some reason you *DON’T* finish, all you owe me is a couple of giggles, guffaws, or belly laughs as I read whatever cock-and-bull story you come up with and post here as to why.


  49. Comment by chrisb | 02.6.2010 | 11:44 pm

    I found it in the old post, IOU $20. Oh and did you run it in exactly my marathon finishing on purpose. No? Well really.


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