This Is What Democracy Looks Like

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No idea who that chick is, but her sign made me LOL. Plus, Pussy Hats.

As I sit down to write this, I am both exhausted and exhilarated. You wouldn’t think that a 60-hour trip, in which 28 of those hours involved sitting on your ass on a bus along with zero seconds of running (nod to running! in a running blog!), would be taxing. But you would be wrong. And I’m not complaining.

The trip began in a lovely K-Mart parking lot in scenic Donelson at 7:00 a.m. where the 55 “Nashville Nasties Go to Washington” group would pile on a bus and take off for D.C. There was already a moderate number of women in hand-knitted Pussy Hats gathered around some reporters from Channel 5 when we arrived. Honestly, the reporters looked kind of cranky and baffled. When I walked over they were pointing their cameras, mostly, at a young boy holding a sign reading, “I Vote in 2024, and I’m Watching.” I guess that seemed more innocuous to them than attempting to talk to highly-caffeinated adult women about issues (but, in reality, it’s not).

The drive from Nashville to D.C., one I made more times than I can count back in my strident hippy folk singer days, is truly beautiful the entire way: through rolling farmland, then the Smokies, and on into the Shenandoah Valley. It was a remarkable backdrop for hours of conversation, music, and vague naps. Around lunchtime, we were somewhere near Bristol, TN, a well-known hotbed of liberalism and political watchdogs (lolz). Everyone went to different restaurants, and somehow Cheryl and I and several other women ended up in one that had one thousand TVs tuned in to Fox and the inauguration.

Certain visuals  did not help with digestion:

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Others jettisoned beverages through nostrils:

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Just as we were finishing up, the Fox “News” “reporters” suddenly became super-verbose about all the “many, many” rioters near the parade route. Film of trash can fires, tear gas, and hipsters running around waving their phones in the air was shown over and over. This was a little unsettling, particularly as the reporters, nearly urinating themselves with excitement, kept wondering aloud, in tones of dire concern, how bad the riots might be the next day at that women’s gathering. FFS, Fox.

The miles flew on by with a Meryl Streep (overrated, Hillary flunky, SAD!) movie and the discovery that there was far more boxed wine on board than originally imagined. Things deteriorated a tad when the trip ended up taking about 3 hours longer than planned, and we didn’t get to our rooms until about midnight, with a 5:15 wake-up call in the wings. I told Cheryl that I thought I might be too excited to fall asleep, and then instantly began snoring. Attractive.

The metro ride to the Capitol the next morning was an event all to itself. Every car was packed to the gills with women (and men) carrying signs, wearing pink hats, and already breaking into spontaneous chants. As we approached the RFK Stadium stop, hundreds of buses jammed the lots, and thousands of women headed to the metro looked up at all of us squeezed into the cars and roared in approval. The driver blared the horn in response, and everyone inside waved and yelled back. All fatigue evaporated.

At the Federal Center stop, where we all got off, it looked like this:

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The protest/march was already underway beneath the city. It may have taken 45 minutes just to file out of the metro and up the two escalators, but it was a blast. And once we got out on the streets, an amazing thing was happening: the people just kept coming. A constant wave of thousands and thousands, filling up block after block, and eventually filling the march route solid so that the march would eventually have to be “called off.” (Which only meant that everyone marched everywhere in groups of thousands. I mean, how do you cancel something that is already happening?)

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Cheryl and I slowly made our way through people to somewhere. I have absolutely no idea where we were or where we were headed. We just moved long like inside of a tidal wave. A friendly, energizing, cheering, like-minded, tidal wave. Every 10 minutes or so, we would hear a roar rise up somewhere far away and move closer and closer until we were swept up in it, shouting whatever chant had been passed along. Chants ranged from “This Is What Democracy Looks Like!” to “Hands Too Small! Can’t Build a Wall!” to “My Body, My Choice!” with the men echoing “Her Body, Her Choice!” to “He’s Orange! He’s Gross! He Lost the Popular Vote!”  (a personal fave) to, simply, “SAD! SAD! SAD!”

Somehow, we ended up near one of the loudspeakers that carried the voices of the speakers  who were on the stage about half a mile away. Through some bare trees we could see one of the many screens. Sort of. We could sometimes get a glimpse of a flailing hand or an ear or someone standing behind the speaker chewing gum. But it was all good. Michael Moore was urging everyone to, basically, get off their asses and DO SOMETHING when Ashley Judd  grabbed the microphone and repeated a poem written by a 19-year-old woman from Franklin, TN. It was a performance that, apparently, has made some conservatives completely and utterly lose their minds. I mean, HOW DARE a woman mention period blood and vaginas in public?  Never mind that every single damn day, women have to sit through untold numbers of super-dramatic commercials about men’s ineffective schlongs.  Preach it, Ashley! I loved it. However, just a day after the march, big sis Wynonna referred to the performance as “toxic,” and added that she “doesn’t do politics.” Except for when she, you know, does do politics by referring to a feminist poetic performance as toxic. Sigh.

We also got to hear a snippet of Gloria Steinem’s speech, Maryum Ali, Tammy Duckworth (awesome), a bunch of people whose intros we missed, and poet Aja Monet recite her poem, “My Mother was a Freedom Fighter.” Her performance  was so emotional and raw that everyone was in or on the verge of tears. Standing next to me was a woman about my age with her two grown daughters, one of them transgender. As the woman pulled off her sunglasses to wipe her eyes, her daughters both put their arms around her. I imagine that mother is something of a freedom fighter. You go, Mother.

The crowd began getting restless and chanting March! March! March! when it was 30 minutes past march time (and about the time the event was being “canceled” hahaha). At the very moment Cheryl and I began thinking of shuffling on toward a river of moving people within the tidal wave, the crowd around us suddenly parted, and a string of speakers passed through right next to us, including Ashley Judd who was waving, smiling, and hurling pussy hats out to people at lightning speed. Surreal. In the next moment, Alicia Keys was onstage belting out, This Girls is On FIIIIIRE!  OMG. Somehow in the tumultuous roar and movement of it all, we missed Madonna’s comments (another cataclysmic event of horror for “My Poor Ears!!” conservatives). I do regret not getting in on dancing to “Express Yourself” with half a million other people.

And then we were marching. I’d marched in protests before, but this was something new, a feeling I’d never experienced. As one of the speakers had pointed out, this wasn’t a party, a parade, or a concert. We were here, all of us, millions worldwide (SORRY TRUMP) to express our anger, frustration, disgust over our new president’s and his cabinet’s attitudes toward women’s rights, human rights, civil rights, you know–anyone’s rights other than rich, straight, white people’s. There’s no need to reiterate the details of those piggish attitudes. Unless you’ve been enjoying life under a hefty boulder, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Since November 8th, I have felt the same chill fog of disbelief, shame for our country, and helplessness that so many have felt. Often  I had that dreaded sense of isolation.

But here we all were. EVERYWHERE. A continuous roar of disdain, power, and unity rose up from drums, voices, chanting, shouting, cheering, singing, laughter, air horns, cowbells, and a million footfalls. Here we all were. As I looked around, I felt something I’ve never really felt before. It was beyond pride and patriotism. It was the true sense of We the People. It was surely a sensation 400 years old. It felt that deep and that true.

I have nary an idea of where we actually marched, but I’m pretty certain it was in the exact opposite direction of the planned route. A little diversion for, oh, 20,000 of us. Even the cops were happy. One was wearing a pussy hat. A delivery truck driver gave up and honked his horn in rhythm with the drums, waving out his window with a broad grin.  A National Guardsman stood on his Humvee clapping. To be fair, I realize that hardly anyone in D.C. voted for Trump, but still.

Just today, I read an article about how expressing the same contempt toward Trump that he expresses toward women, minorities, the disabled, or anyone who criticizes him won’t, ultimately, be effective in any way. I know that’s true. Still, it felt good to carry a sign that mocked his hairdo on one side:

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This sign got photographed maybe 200 times. Particularly when Cheryl carried it. Bitch. 

And presented a pissed off pussy on the flipside:

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Above my lovely hand-drawn cat cartoon is “Not Up for Grabs!!” I don’t know what I’m doing in this picture. Possibly nodding off.
I think this protest was a bit of an anomaly in its widespread use of humor. It’s just that Trump is so fucking mockable and, let’s face it, his astoundingly thin skin and tendency to have a tantrum when he perceives the slightest slight makes mocking him (and much of his proposed administration) irresistible. Some of my fave signs:
I Know Signs. I Make the Best Signs. They’re Terrific. Everyone Agrees.
OMG GOP!! WTF?
YUGE Mistake!
Nobody Likes You
 Tinkle Tinkle, Little Czar! Putin Put You Where You Are!
I Fart in Your General Direction, Donald
Melania! Blink Twice if You’re Being Held Hostage! … [lolz]
Tillerson Could Use Some Crest Whitestrips
Shut Up Trump and Make Me a Sandwich
And here’s my oldest niece’s boyfriend protesting in Italy with a truly top-notch sign:
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 And one that really just about sums it up:
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 After the March to Who Knows Where But Who Cares!, Cheryl and I wandered over to the Capitol Mall where some frenetic dude from the BBC rushed over and interviewed me with a string of remarkably ridiculous questions. One was: “So do you think there’s some level of disrespect from a portion of Americans for President Trump?”
Um, Yeah, dude. There may be some barely-discernible lack of respect present.
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Please note the the infamous “never been used before except when they had been used before” white panels that mysteriously reduce the appearance of crowd size.

As a fun side item, just to the left in the above picture was a massive (yuuuge, really) line of port-a-potties. The brand name, brazenly displayed on every door, was “Don’s Johns.” Don’s Johns!! I’m dying!! Stuck to at least 100 of these doors was a stickie with “Trump Hotel” or “Trump Tower” written on it. In the Don’s John (STILL LAUGHING) that I used, the toilet paper dispenser had a stickie with “Trump’s Tax Returns” written on it.  But, no, Mr. BBC Man. I’m not sensing any real disrespect.

That evening, we went out for dinner and bevs with roughly one zillion other protesters and then sat up watching CNN (fake) and MSNBC (SAD!) way too late. Everyone was a little loopy on the long bus ride back to Nashville the next day, but it seemed to go by quickly. Midway through, someone put on “Norma Rae,”  which, of course, everyone had seen before, but still seemed like a good choice. When it was over, the bus was dead quiet. Suddenly, a loud voice in the back shouted, “Norma Rae was SUCH A NAAASTY WOMAN!”  It was the voice of one of the bus organizers who is also the vice chair for the Davidson County Democratic Party. She proceeded to take the mic at the front of the bus and tell us what happens next.

Because now shit just got real. As more than one speaker at the march pointed out, this march needs to be a movement, not a moment. If it was just a moment, just a march, it will amount to less than a blip. It, in turn, will then be mockable. So, I hope for anyone reading this who gives even the very smallest of fucks, you will do something. Make phone calls, attend meetings, support like-minded candidates, resolve to do 10 Actions for the First 100 Days. And for the love of Pete’s sake, at the very least, vote in the midterm elections! If you can’t even get off your ass and vote, you seriously need to STFU any second now.

Personally, I’m gratified to see so many friends intending to do something. I hope the intentions become actions, habits, voices. As Maryum Ali pointed out in her speech at the march, borrowing from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Now the real work begins, friends. Be heard!!

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Getting on the Bus

Well, in 48 hours, Cheryl and I will be on a bus with 55 other women, en route to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. With any luck, at this point (4 p.m.) we’ll be roughly 4 hours from the hotel near the BWI airport, but I have my doubts. I’ve driven from Nashville to Baltimore a zillion times, and it always takes longer than expected. But what do I care? The ride promises to be quite the experience in itself (I hope. I mean let’s face it. A busload of righteous chicks eating snacks, listening to protest music, watching Norma Rae, and wearing Pussy Hats. What’s not to love?).

The Women’s March organizers emphasize that this is not a protest march, but, rather, a mass gathering supporting the idea that women’s rights are human rights–and that those rights, along with the rights of nearly every minority (aside from bald men with psoriasis) are being threatened by the new super-craptastic administration and its Cheeto Leader, Twitler.

At a recent poster-making gathering of some of the women who will be on our bus, the idea that positive messages on posters are more effective than negative messages was discussed. I believe the comment, “Asking for what you want is better than complaining about what you don’t want,” was made. I can’t really disagree with this. I mean, in the 1960s, civil rights marchers held signs that said: I Am a Man, First Class Citizenship Now!, Justice for All, and Power to the People. No one, for example, carried a sign that read, George Wallace Has a Big Nose, or Damn, Honkies! WTF? or even I Seriously Do NOT Enjoy Alabama.

I’m all for positivism, being civil, and humming some Helen Reddy. Still, this is the sign I’ll be carrying:

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Damn, I wish that showed up bigger here. It is truly a sight to behold at 18 x 22, bitches. On the blank backside, I’m drawing a massive cartoon cat head saying “Oh, HELL No!” If I remember, and if the sign doesn’t bite the dust at some point on this trip, I’ll take a picture of it for your viewing pleasure.

As the poster-making frenzy died down that evening (I would just like to mention that stencils are from hell) and boxed wine and Snickers made an appearance, the conversation became a thing of beauty. Every woman there was quite different. Ages ranged from 12 to 67, hair from pink to gray, and jobs from student to  lawyer to director of a non-profit for gun control to waitress to something that sounded like “barnacle,” but I’m pretty sure that’s not a career path.

And yet, there was a real common bond/similar thread thing happening. I’m not just talking about everyone sitting around and bemoaning, “OMG! That Trump! Oh, how so very dreadful!” The thread had to do with that common experience of being on the outside looking in. And, as a result, seeing things that others either might not see or refuse to see. I don’t mean to say that it was a roomful of women who had experienced astounding discrimination and had super-crazy stories about it. I just mean that they were aware, watching, awake. Everyone agreed that these are unusual, unprecedented, and urgent times we’re in right now. There was the common itching desire to do something. Getting on the bus is a start. Most of the women had never been to a march/protest before, and certainly not one of this magnitude in the shadow of the mothereffing United States Capitol. Some admitted to being afraid.

I still see the posts on Facebook (gah) and hear people saying things along the lines of, “Well, now is the time for all of us to accept our next president and work on getting along, because that is what we do as Americans.”

I’d like to take a moment here and say BULLSHIT. I don’t know what country you live in, but when a dangerous, mentally ill, racist, admitted sex offender becomes president, I think what we should “do as Americans” is protest, revolt, write, vote, gather, read, talk, rise up, be patriots, and show a little love for this country. Maybe even get on a damned bus and eat some Doritos for 12 hours.

 

 

2016. Lolz.

2016 will always be the year that I will  remember having said, “Are you FUCKING kidding me?” or “What is WRONG with people?” or “This can’t be happening,” or quite simply “Shit,” more times than I could count. That being said, it was not a bad year (I mean, until it was) overall.

In the running spectrum, I never even attempted to reach that 23:00-24:00 5K I blathered on about at the beginning of 2016. I think I did some speed work for a while, had a few laughs at my splits, vaguely considered another 5K, and then it got hot. Instead, Cheryl and I signed up for a late summer half Marion in Utah, another of the downhill Revel series. The Cottonwood race is one of their steepest races, and while a downhill marathon has a serious point of diminishing returns (i.e. destroyed quads for the final 3 miles), I wondered if a half might actually be somewhat faster than it would be on a regular course.

It was. My goal pace was about an 8:47 pace, which would put me in at NYC Marathon qualifying time. And please calm down, because I’m still totes Oh Hell the Fuck No to marathons. It was just a goal to shoot for. My training plan was mostly just moderate miles and consistency and trying not to become a pig and some downhill runs on the treadmill. The TMs at our gym can do a 3% (or whatever) downhill, so I built up to 9 miles within 15-20 seconds goal pace.

As with all the Revel races, it was stunningly beautiful, chilly, and somewhat surreal. Partial sunrise/stars at the start, remote silent mountaintop, a moose grazing at mile 4 (IKR?!), tailwind, downhill, and zilch spectators with cowbells or YOU CAN DO IT sunshine-up-the-ass signs until the last couple miles. The half did not seem to have any point of diminishing returns. I was able to maintain an 8:25 pace all the way to 11.5, at which point the course flattened out and I was pooped and slowed down to about 8:45. In general, I think the downhill course gave me about 15 seconds a mile, given that my overall pace was 8:32. (And there is no way I would have done that otherwise. NO WAY.)

So that was a YAY! race. Afterwards, Cheryl and I went into Salt Lake City to see Temple Square which was oddly relaxing in a kind of sterile, ornate, Osmond family kind of way. After that, we were starving and in serious need of a beer and could not for the life of us find a restaurant with a bar ANYWHERE. That, in comparative contrast, was aggravating in a sterile, tsk tsk, Osmond family kind of way.

Anyway, that trip also included 3 days at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Earlier in the year, we had also visited Acadia N.P. in Maine. Any national park deserves its own extensive blog, so I’ll just say that if you haven’t made a point to visit our national parks, you really oughter. I’ve been to maybe 20 of the parks, and there isn’t one that I haven’t been stunned by with the exception of Congaree Swamp which, naturally, is about 20 minutes from where I grew up in SC (GO COCKS). However, if you like swarming black flies, a squishy boardwalk through swamp water, and spectacular wildlife in the form of squirrels, this is the park for you.

Other highlights of 2016 included my oldest niece’s graduation from Vassar, camping weekends at 3 state parks, meeting up with a crazy woman in Gatlinburg as she passed through while hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, and a Run Bitches/SOBs trip to Des Moines, Iowa, for a race. Des Moines was unexpectedly pleasant, and in stark contrast to Salt Lake City, there was a bar every 15 feet. Thanks to Crazy Woman, we were advised to visit the High Life Lounge where one can enjoy a Schlitz while perusing binders of Playboy magazines from the 60s. Heavenly.

And then came November. Gah. Like a number of people I know, I was physically sick the night of the election and spent the following week in a state of zombie-like tearfulness/anger/disbelief/horror/beverage intake. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about the election of this racist, self-serving, proudly sexual-assaulting, pompous, misogynistic, bullying, hateful fascist? I generally try to see both sides of most political debates, but I, like so many Americans, am at an utter impasse with Trump. How anyone with even a dwindling sense of common decency could have either voted for this pig of a man or abstained from voting against such a horror is beyond me.

I was never over-the-top about Hillz, but I certainly never saw her as the dangerous, utterly incompetent, hateful, sexual predator we now have as president-elect (vomit). My sense is that she could have been a good, even great, president in spite of the mistakes she’s made in her , hello, 30 years of public service, much of it helping children and young people.

But congratulations, dumbed-down America! We now have a bloated and bombastic tangerine with tiny hands as our wannabe dictator.

Anyway, the horror was somewhat assuaged by an emergency gathering of like-minded friends the weekend after the election. Wine and pizza and a serious overuse of ridiculous superlatives and expletives always helps put any unpleasant event into perspective. Sort of. Not really. But that evening solidified the fact that righteous indignation does, in fact, enjoy company. We enjoyed it so much that several of us will be going to Washington, D.C., next month for the Women’s March on Washington. There’s this overwhelming sense of helplessness right now, and I know it’s just getting on the bus, riding to D.C., and walking from Independence Avenue to the Capitol, but it’s something, you know?

Which reminds me of one of the other best parts of 2016. Last month, two weeks after the election, we got the chance to go hear John Lewis speak when he accepted the Nashville Public Library Foundation Award. It was hands down the best speech imaginable at one of the worst times possible. In fact, he may have been the best and most inspirational speaker I have ever heard.

“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it! Get out there and push, and stand up, and speak out, and get in the way the same as my generation got in the way. Get in trouble–Good trouble. Necessary trouble.”

So here’s to 2017. I have a feeling it’s going to be a weird and rocky year, but with any luck we’ll get into some good and necessary trouble along the way.

 

 

Hate Crime

In the hours following the Orlando Massacre, I was stunned, overwhelmed, and uncontrollably sad. Cheryl and I were in the gym on treadmills when the Breaking News! filled every television in front of us. About 15 minutes into all of it, the media revealed that the attack had been on a gay nightclub. About 10 minutes after that, I had to stop running because I kind of felt like I couldn’t breathe mainly because I felt like I needed to cry. We went out to the parking lot and sat in the car and cried for a while and went home.

I spent a lot of that day looking around and feeling like, Don’t you fucking know what just happened?? At the pool, people sat around in all their layers of fat, shoveling Fritos into their mouths and bitching about the cost of bridesmaid dresses, cable providers, and bad manicures. That evening, we drove downtown to attend a vigil amidst the final blowout evening of the CMA Fest in Nashville, a dually wonderful/icky yearly event that celebrates awesome music (sometimes), partying, guns, boots, and country.

I can’t say I was surprised, but I was, as always, disappointed to see that something that involved gay people (even a goddamned mass shooting) was acknowledged nearly exclusively by just the gay community. I mean, if this had been the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and it had taken place in, say, a shopping mall or a bowling alley, vigils nationwide would have been diverse and massive. Anyway, at least our super-awesome mayor gave a great and thoughtful speech, doing what she could to assure the gathered crowd that gay people are both protected and supported in Nashville. (True to some extent. And certainly by the mayor.)

Other speakers included a Muslim leader, the TN Equality Project director, and a minister who pointed out that, “It is so important right now to be visible, open, yourself. Let people know you are gay, you are married, you are in this world, you are happy. Hold hands in public, kiss, be who you are.”

I’ve heard this many times, and I know it’s true. But it is hard to describe to those who don’t think twice about putting their arms around their husbands, wives, etc. in public just how uncomfortable this still, STILL, is for nearly all gay people, even for lifelong openly gay homos like yours truly. Cheryl and I walked down 2nd Ave. after the vigil holding hands amidst some not-that-discreet stares and a few people enjoying self-induced whiplash to get another gander.

The massacre made me really, really sad. In a natural flow, then, I began to get angry. The obvious void of anyone but The Gays at the vigil made me angry. The stares from rednecks on 2nd Ave. made me angry. In general, I’m not one to boo-hoo, whine about persecution and discrimination, or try to dredge attention and pity in my direction for being gay. So simply feeling this way, in a bitter twist, makes me angry. Gah!

Basically, most of my gay friends and Cheryl and I all go along day to day living like anyone else and doing all the mundane, exciting, tedious, amazing, ridiculous, and incredible things that get rolled together to create Living. Every now and then we talk about how much things have changed in the past 30 or 40 years since we realized we were gay in the little bumfuck towns we grew up in. Because things have changed. But when something like Orlando happens, there are those jarring disorienting feelings of: Not Nearly Enough. Still A Long Way To Go. We’re Kidding Ourselves.

America can be a weird place. I know a lot of Americans are all self-congratulatory and patting themselves on the back about OMGZ! Gay marriage is legal! Look how awesome and cool we all are! In one online debate about how gay people shouldn’t be personally worried/upset about Orlando because, nationally, gays really aren’t discriminated against or hated anymore, some doof used the fact that today 55 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. “Things are really changing!”

In other words, nearly half of Americans still would like to deny us a basic human right and would be all for a law that instantly dissolved thousands of marriages.

In many parts of the country (like where I live), most straight people would prefer to pretend we don’t exist, deny us most rights, and be generally horrible. All to say, I think many Americans (and this includes plenty of gay people) are living in a fantasy world if they think homophobia and hate are no longer a real problem or threat. As always, laws change, but people don’t. That fact is how Trump has tapped into a ginormous cesspool of American racism and hatred. It’s been there all along in spite of 50 years of “progress.” I think even Trump has been surprised at how many millions of Americans are racist assholes (or in his words: “Just really really great, so great, Americans. Just really.”).

The Orlando murderer was a mentally ill violent psychopath who had a major problem with gay men. Increasingly, it appears that his problem may have been that he couldn’t reconcile his gay tendencies with how his religion condemned homosexuality. His own father taught him that gay people were headed to hell. I know that there are many people who would really prefer to insist that this was a terrorist attack, particularly those who, um, use their religion to condemn homosexuality. Yes, it’s that that awkward moment when right-wing “Christians” realize they share and spew the same views as a supposed Isis terrorist. It would feel a lot more patriotic to claim that the attack was random, not a “gay thing.” Then everyone could feel a heck of a lot more comfortable at, say, a vigil for 49 murdered Americans.

But it wasn’t random. It was a specific hate crime. By a fucking security guard born and raised in America.

What’s the solution to any of my anger, these problems, this rant? I have no idea. But I think it’s time for anyone who gives a shit to become uncomfortable. Our neighbor across the street who won’t wear the engagement ring her girlfriend gave her because her employer “might ask questions” needs to wear the damn ring. Straight people who feel funny about openly supporting and defending gay friends or acknowledging that gay people love each other need to feel funny. Cheryl and I need to hold hands and possibly kiss on 2nd and maybe even Broadway. Even when we’re with our straight friends. (Hi!)

As the minister at the vigil said, it’s critical to be seen and heard. Silence is as dangerous as anything. I know I echo the sentiments of millions of gay Americans when I say that I don’t have solutions, but that in spite of anger and frustration and sadness, I always, ALWAYS, have hope. In the words of Harvey Milk, himself ultimately slaughtered in a hate crime, “Hope will never be silent.”

And now, more than ever, it can’t be.

Today’s Stuff

First of all, I changed my mind about training several weeks ago. So for those of you anxiously awaiting news about my last 5K, here’s the tedious race report: I didn’t run it. For whatever reason, the idea of just doing a boatload of easy running and nothing else for awhile suddenly appealed to me a lot more than 5King myself to death for no reason. Then this old post from Fast Dude reappeared in the Swamp:

See the forest, not the trees. Running a lot means running a lot. It means thinking about your running in terms of weekly, monthly, and yearly mileage totals instead of any single run. The purpose of running a lot is to build the system of capillaries, to awaken the mitochondria, to strengthen the heart, to lose weight, to transform the body into a running machine. This transformation happens over the long haul. These changes are not the result of any single run, but the accumulated effect of months and years of running. Run easy most of the time. If what matters most is the forest, then don’t stress too much about any single “tree.” Running hard too often wears you out, both physically and mentally. 80% of your running (at least) should be comfortable, easy, and fun. If you’re feeling really good, then you might once or twice a week turn an easy run into a spontaneous tempo run. Do your workouts by feel, not by pace. Do not concentrate on making yourself hurt….Spending a month or so doing race-specific work will put the icing on the cake. But it’s the cake that matters. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I did no single training run longer than 14 miles before my most recent 50k. But I had my share of 80-90 mile weeks. Plenty of cake. And I can put on the icing whenever I like. Keep it simple! Keep it fun! Run a lot! Build that base!

It kind of occurred to me that over the past year or so, my base has gone to shit. In other words, someone left the cake out in the rain.* HA HA HA HA!!!! Ahem. Anyway, in November of 2014, I ran a fairly okay marathon which, for all intents and purposes, WAS my last marathon. My training was not great, but I did manage an average of about 40-45 miles per week for the last 8 weeks of training. (I probably would have been better off doing that 16 weeks before the Marion, but oh well.)

After that, I hit the snooze button for training, all the way up to the NYC Marathon this past November. I averaged under 35 miles a week for the entire summer/fall of training. I kind of struggled and flailed through faster runs and couldn’t really figure out what was wrong. I gained 8 pounds. I hardly raced at all.

After New York, I ran a grand total of 64 more miles for the entire month of November , my lowest mileage month in maybe 8 years. Yay me! I mean, in many ways, it was nice to take a break, but in other ways…what the fuck was I taking a break from? It’s not like I had been training that hard.  By January, I was a lethargic pig. I literally could not get through a 5-mile run without walking. Even so, around mid-February, I began adding the “icing” to get ready for spring 5Ks.

And then I couldn’t figure out why the 5K in March was about a minute slower than I thought it should be. Lolz.

So coming across Fast Guy’s old post from 2009 was probably just what I needed. I’m currently only running easy miles until I can get back to a respectable base. I may do this for about 2 more months. In the past 8 years of training, I’ve never focused on base-building exclusively for an extended period of time, so I’ll be interested in seeing what it does for me. I think it’s true that you clearly can’t do the same kind of training in your 50s that you did even in your 40s. The mileage whoring combined with speedwork that pushed me to PRs at 47 would only lead to burnout or shitstorm races now.

But what about being a slight whore with miles for a few months, minus the speedwork? And then back off from the whoredom and do some race-specific icing work? I know this plan is not exactly groundbreaking, and plenty of you are saying, “Tanya, you’re an idiot,” but it would be something different for me.

As I inch toward my late 50s (GAH!!), I know that my training will have to change in some fundamental ways if I want to keep racing at all. I’m not sure what is going to work for me, so stay tuned for me changing my mind again any day now. It’s a conundrum, because I still believe that miles+speed= the best race times, regardless of race distance, but ramping up miles while hurtling myself through track/tempo workouts doesn’t seem to be the key for me anymore.

The good news is that in my month of cake time so far, I’ve lost weight (cake! losing weight!) and my endurance feels exponentially better. Nothing hurts and, major bonus, I’m really enjoying the running.

 

 

* Enjoying your earworm?

 

Let’s Talk About the BATHROOM BILL!

I was going to jot down a few delightful thoughts about the ever-important Bathroom Bill, but realized that the following discourse lifted directly from The Facebooks is truly better than anything I could come up with. The original post was from me as a response to a news story on the WSMV page about Tennessee lawmakers actually considering the bill here in Tennessee. *SIGH*

This is the only time I’ve ever joined in a FB Rednecks vs. Normal People Donnybrook, and even though it was so hilarious that I’m still in tears, it may be the last time. Living in Nashville (overall, a generally liberal and Democratic city), I sometimes forget that hordes of super-spiteful, fearful, “Christian,” uneducated, blunt-brained yahoos are lurking all the time. Generally, they’re not annoying unless they hear about something having to do with sex, welfare, or guns. Then they get mega-inflamed for reasons even they can’t quite understand. Typically, when it has to do with gay sex, the male yahoos become excessively excitable.

Anyway, the Religious Right has come up with some doozies in their day, but this one may well take the cake. If the rest of the world wasn’t already laughing at us because of Trump, they will totes be seriously LOL-ing at us now.

So here we go….!

Me: Obviously, the use of bathrooms by transgender people is not, and never has been, a problem. This moronic bill is simply a mini temper tantrum by the small-brained, fearful, confused segment of Americans who continue to view the concept of equality as a threat to their little, unimportant lives.

Some Dumbass: It has already been reported that perverts are dressing as transgenders and committing heinous acts…I guess its unimportant to you if you have no children. They are sick and attack little girls is bathrooms!!!!

A Cool Chick with Pink Hair: More GOP politicians have been arrested for sexual misconduct in the U.S. than transgenders. Has a transgender person EVER been arrested for bothering someone in a fucking bathroom? Jesus, people.

Some random dude to Dumbass: Can you cite sources, or do you get all your “reported” info on a FB meme?

Me: I’m sorry to have to bludgeon [Dumbass] with logic, but a pedophile disguised as a woman is not the same thing as a transgender person.

An elderly woman whose last name is “Cox” (lolz): Tanya you are absolutely correct, but who is going to police the bathrooms to make sure only for real transgenders enter, and not just pedophiles in skirts.

Me: I have no idea. And, gosh darn it, what if the pedophile lies? I suggest 24-hour lie detector testing coupled with x-ray technology at ALL bathroom facilities throughout the South.

Pink hair chick: “It’s already been reported” may as well be a neon sign that reads “I haven’t bothered to research the topic for myself but I want to sound like an authority on an issue.” Seriously.

Somebody’s response to “Cox”: good grief! Who is policing the restrooms NOW to guard against pedophiles? Or the playgrounds. Or the mall. Or the wherever? Talk about a red herring! You want to protect your children, then accompany them! Who is going to be checking gender at the bathroom door? Look, perverts will find their way to do what they want. This has nothing to do with perverts. This is simply to discriminate.

A fatass from Dickson: There was a man dressed as Woman arrested for spying in Mall Bathrooms. I seen it on the news. We need a law to keep them out weather or not the gays like it.

A groovy dude with an awesome beard: If pedophiles want to get into the bathroom of the opposite sex, what’s stopping them now? It’s certainly not because they couldn’t put on a dress at any time and sneak into the ladies restroom. This bill has nothing to do with that, it’s just a distraction from the discrimination and ignorance certain lawmakers are trying to spread.

A frowning chick named “Don”: Another giant step backwards for the State of Tennessee! They will be making fun of us again on the late night talk shows and Comedy Central. On the good side, it will provide thousands of jobs as every establishment with public restrooms will have to hire at least two full time bathroom monitors to guard the doors and check birth certificates.

Someone who apparently cannot read or write: accept right now it not even illegal for a woman. To uses a men’s bathroom vise versi

A tool from Shelbyville with a profile picture of Cruz and the Confederate flag: Hey libtards…you could just keep it the way it’s always been and let science, biology, common sense, and logic all prevail…..if you were born with a male sex organ, use the man’s bathroom. If you were born with a female sex organ, use the woman’s bathroom. Now, how hard is that? Probly to hard for all you Obama lovers.

Bonehead from Orlinda: Birth certificates are on file in the school office. They need to check them if someone thinks a boy is in a dress.

Frowning Don: So you want a young transgendered child to use the facility that matches his/her genitalia? Wouldn’t sending your eight year old son who identifies as a female into the men’s restroom be as potentially damaging as sending your eight year old daughter into the men’s room?

Me: And let’s not forget that we’re talking about less than one percent of the population. A one percent that, I would imagine, goes out of its way to be considerate, discreet, and not draw attention. This sudden apoplectic panic attack of the nut-job fringe is pathetically laughable.

Another high school-educated wingnut from Dickson: Tanya you really are an idiot.

Me: Thanks!

The Cruz supporter : Tanya, exactly my point! Why are we so willing to pander to a fraction of a percent of the population and telling the other 99%+ to get over it? If it’s such a big deal, then they can push for a transgender bathroom separate from male and female bathrooms, but don’t you dare expect me to subject my children to these sick people who can easily abuse the privilege.

Pink hair’s response to Cruz dude: The answer for you is to accompany your children everywhere to protect them from all the dangers you think this creates. It’s not a matter of what percentage of the population this concerns. Statistically, following your reasoning, a child has a far, far greater chance of being abused by someone who is not transgendered. Protect against that higher risk. This is not pandering (look up the definition, please). This is acknowledging. And just how much out of your pocket are you willing to pay to retro-fit all the buildings?

Has 50 Selfies of herself making ‘come hither’ faces in her car: You people who thinks its okay to have men in girls locker rooms are retarded. Heres facts. Women are objecting to men…strangers…men…professing to feel like a woman ~ now freely entering a womans restroom. And it isnt just about protecting children. To see a man coming out of a stall in a womens restroom and stand there washing his hands next to me makes me want to vomit. And I’ll have a gun with me!

Angry Don to Selfie Woman: a person with dozens of “selfies” should not call people names. Are you even acquainted with any transgendered individuals? And make sure your gun isn’t in the wrong position in your pocket in NC when you’re in the bathroom, or you might get arrested.

Someone I’m going to refer to as Utter Lunatic Man: I just choose to use the correct toilet. No…on the other hand, I believe I’ll get in touch with my feminine side this weekend….maybe some of you girls could help me pick out a good restroom to follow you into…huh?? Tanya or …maybe [pink hair chick]? I’ll just put on a dress and pretend I’m a girl like a trans sicko.

A scowling chick posting from Seattle, FFS: How about a locker room instead? That would be even more exciting…These liberals are nuts!!

Utter Lunatic Man: I can’t believe this rediculous nonsense and these sinners has infiltrated my home state…so disappointed😦😦😦 But I will pray for them.

Seattle Scowler: They won’t stop until they take over the world Its Modern day Sodam and Gomorrah my friend (frown emoticon)

Utter Lunatic Man: Its worse. At least the men of Sodom knew where to use the restroom at.
This just goes beyond all ethics and God is watching. These people need to Fork out the dough for businesses and wherever to build them a special bathroom for their special little selves. But no and they want Force themselves into the wrong bathroom where normal people are trying to do their thing.
I predict you’ll see a lot of people laying unconscious outside the bathroom. Some son, father, or brother has done went in there and knocked them sillier than they already are.
Not to mention what’s going to happen when women started busting up into the men’s restroom. You come in here and you get slammed.
HAH!!!!

Me: And there we have it, folks! With the above post, we have come full circle to vibrantly elucidating my original post. Thanks for playing!

Middle Tenn 5K Shootout 3/19

25:37.

This is right at 4 minutes slower than I was running 5Ks 8 years ago and about a minute slower than I thought I might run this race Saturday, but having not raced in nearly a year, I really had nary a shred of an idea about what I might do.

The course for this race is basically straight down the shoulder of a 4-lane highway, a 180-degree turn, and straight back. I wouldn’t exactly call it scenic or delightful, but it’s fast (LOL! 25:37!) and flat and a favorite person of mine who actually convinced me that he sharted a fully-formed turd into his pants when walking around his home one time (he didn’t) is the RD, so how could I not run this race? Plus the Bitches always run it. BONUS.

Anyway, the weather was fairly perfect for the race, aside from a monstrous headwind on the way out. But you can’t really complain about a headwind (well, I mean you can, but you shouldn’t) when it magically turns into an awesome tailwind on the way back. If it were the other way around, I’d still be complaining at this very moment. I almost lost my hat twice on the way out, and my wig was totes busted by the turnaround. Based on the shadow I was casting, I resembled a flailing Medusa for the last mile. Since it’s out and back, you can see everyone in the race, which was grand for bellowing “RUN BITCH!!” at all the Bs and SOBs. A pleasant side note is that the race location is in a kind of, shall we say, rural and TSK! TSK! area about 30 miles outside Nashville. So there were some super-gratifying expressions of alarm when all 6 of us hollered this back and forth to one another.

The main thing about my race effort in this race is that it wasn’t really there. I somehow found myself more interested in not hurting too much and in trying to make Bitch Amy laugh at stupid things I was saying. (She laughed, but then she pulled away in the last half mile, probably just to get away from my yammering, and then beat me. Bitch.) I’m not saying that I didn’t run hard, but it was basically the effort level of a hard interval workout. There was none of the “I am fucking dying” feeling in the final mile, no nausea, no reeling around in a daze after the finish. Essentially, I was lame. I also think I’ve completely fallen out of the race groove, so the good news is that I’m going to race more to try and become groovy again. And by “groovy,” I mean dry heaving at the finish. Always attractive!

Even so, my attempt at sub-24 between now and the end of the summer will probably be more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Taking a minute and 40 seconds off a 5K is pretty huge…I mean, it’s not huge if you’re entirely out of shape or overweight by, say, 20 pounds to begin with. I’m somewhat out of shape and about 8 pounds over my ideal race weight. Sharpening up my fitness and weight might take off a minute….but 100 seconds? GAH!

But I’m still planning on trying. I know sub-24 is in me….I just have to dig it out.

Next 5K looks like Moosic City (full name: “Purity’s Moosic City Dairy Pure Dash.” Good God!) on April 16th. I’ve got a month to become at least somewhat less pathetic. And I look forward to actually, you know, racing in a race at some point.

 

 

Calculator Mania

Upon reaching my 55th birthday (FFS) a couple weeks ago, I decided to dig through some severely ancient age group awards and 5K times I had filed away from when I was about 25-27 and then use an age-graded  race calculator to see what I’d have to run this year to match my old race times.

I sound like a real blast on my birthday, don’t I? Party down!

Generally speaking, in my heyday, my 5k times ranged around 19:15-20:00 with one anomaly race of 18:55ish. That was a nighttime race on a completely flat course, and I was used to running 5Ks almost exclusively in Golden Gate Park where, invariably, the final mile was gradually uphill. So that may have been the difference. Or the course may have been short. *sigh*

Anyway, the equivalent range at 55 would be a range of 23:07 to 24:01 with an anomaly race of 22:43. Basically, it looks like 5K times drop roughly 80 seconds a decade, making my equivalent times now about 4 minutes slower than 30 years ago. Right? (Fuck you, math!)

Amazingly, almost a decade ago, my times were nearly identically equivalent to my mid-20s. My range was right in the 21:25-22:20 zone with an anomaly race at 21:03 (the calculator put the anomaly at 21:04). That race was thanks to JK.   All these years later, I can still picture him glancing over his shoulder at about the 2.5-mile mark, seeing me on his heels, and yelling, “Are you fucking kidding me?” with several impressionable children within earshot. Ah, good times.

So, for me anyway, the calculator times appear to indicate what I should be capable of.  I mean, if I train correctly and don’t lay around in a heap eating Ding Dongs and drinking Schlitz. Right now, I don’t think I’m even in 24:45 shape, but since I haven’t raced a 5K in nearly a year, how the hell should I know?

I don’t tend to post goals a lot in this blog, but it would be nice to at least go under 24 minutes at some point this summer. There are any number of complications and whines that a calculator can’t take into account, but that sounds precariously close to excuse-making, so I won’t focus on all that. And I definitely won’t consider even mentioning how these past 8 years of chasing miles and marathons may have zapped some of my speed. Nope! Nary a word spoken of it.

I’d like to think that once a racing capability is in you, it remains in its equivalent form throughout your life. It stays in you.

We’ll see.

(If you’ve enjoyed this self-absorbed, number-based post, stay tuned! More to come as I flail my way through intervals, run 5Ks, and fully engage in running calculator mania.)

 

 

 

 

ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!

I’d like to take just a sec out of my busy day to ask a sincere, heartfelt, and thought-provoking question:

What in the ever-loving fuck is wrong with cyclists?

I know I have (along with roughly one bazillion other runners) pondered this question before, along with attempts to demystify their flags-o-many-countries spandex costumes and their general super-irritability. I’ve never had much success at pinpointing the root of why so many cyclists are so crabtastic (though if I’m injured and have to resort to a stat bike, by the end of an hour on the bike I  genuinely look forward to the opportunity to lash out unprovoked even at a small child).

Anyway, since it’s the middle of the winter and there are no flashy cycling events on TV and it’s kind of chilly, the cyclists, naturally, have all disappeared. Their bikies are all safely stored away and their costumes await, neatly pressed and stretched out over large wicker frames so that they will not be impossible to fit over bloated bodies come May. This is typically a pleasant time for runs in the park, void of the ear-splitting bellows of confounding instructions from cyclists coming up from behind or the colon-clutch moments of cyclists careening around corners directly toward you at top speed with their heads down. (WHY?)

Nonetheless, if the weather is decent and a new biking toy has been acquired over Christmas and the flab can be packed into the spandex and there is A Resolution to keep, there can often be a flurry of cyclists from about January 1st to, say, January 2nd or so. Then it ends abruptly until May. My experience is that these out-of-season cyclists are something like exhausted and bewildered bears who have accidentally stumbled out of their caves. Nothing good can come of it. And it’s really in everyone’s best interest to give them a super-wide berth and maybe even avert your eyes if they look your way. At no time is it a good idea to provoke the January Cyclist, and I would even recommend playing dead if one directly approaches you. Blowing a shrill whistle, banging pots together, and shouting, “NO! GO AWAY!” at them really doesn’t do much good. I’ve tried.

But, on occasion, The January Cyclist appears out of nowhere and scares the living shit out of you. This happened a few days ago when I was out for an awesome New Year’s Day jog-a-thon in the park with a couple of the Run Bitches, the KOB, and two neighbors who are new to the whole concept of running for “fun.” It was a beautiful morning, and we were all feeling great in spite of mild gin/champagne/something-made-with vodka headaches and a smattering of flatulence as a result of… well, who really knows what. As if we ever need (or ever have) a specific reason. Lolz.

Anyway, there we were jogging away into our final mile down to the Stoned Gates when (and I promise I am not exaggerating the following events AT ALL) The J.C. suddenly came up from behind yelling, “ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT!” One of our neighbor friends, who was about 50 yards behind us, just about jumped out of her skin and rocketed off into the woods, not being familiar or experienced with people who sneak up behind you and scream for no apparent reason.

Within seconds, J.C. wheeled up behind three of us who were running pretty much on the edge of the left-hand side of the road already. Mind you, the entire rest of the road (one-way and rarely traveled by cars) was empty, and any imbecile (like me) would figure that a cyclist would not want you to cross the entire road right in front of him just so that he could pass on your left. Right?

*SIGH*

Astoundingly, this guy continued with the “ONYOURLEFTONYOURLEFTON YOURLEFT” in an increasingly belligerent tone until he was literally (as in literally) right on my heels. In a surreal moment of true what-the-fuckery, January Cyclist crowded around us on the dirt shoulder on the left, all the while lecturing us on The Rules of the Road and how we needed to learn them.  He actually said, “You double your chances of my hitting you if you don’t move out of my way.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Can anyone explain this to me? FFS. Is there a separate set of dumbass rules for people on bikes? Or have cyclists been sitting on those tiny little leather seats for so long that, in a real sense, they have sticks up their asses?

An abrupt shower of obscenities may or may not have been hurled at the January Cyclist’s stupid pinhead as he disappeared down the hill and I might have yelled, “Enjoy your New Year, moron!”

The good news is that it fueled a super-peppy last mile during which the KOB said, “I could probably catch him” (he probably could have) and we all had pleasantly gratifying daydreams of the January Cyclist receiving a throat punch.

Anyway, if anyone out there can explain what is wrong with cyclists (okay, some cyclists), please enlighten me.

Thanks in advance.

‘Prec!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Final 2015 Post

Ha ha ha. I think I may have posted 3 times this year (somebody correct me), so having a “final” post is kind of, well, lolz-esque.  Anyway, I thought I’d pop in for a quick My Year In Running! wrap-up. When I think back on 2015, in running terms, it was the year of Not.

I did not run many races. I did not run the totes arbitrary and baffling 2000 Miles that I’ve run every year for the past 7 years. I did not set a PR or run a BQ. I did not even run a 20-miler in preparation for the NYC Marathon.

On the other hand… I ran New York and gave not nary (back off, grammarians!) a shit about my time. I did not miss stressing the hell out over minutes, miles, and the relatively bland graph in my running log. I did not get injured. I did not feel guilty or worthless. (Although, let’s face it. I may have felt a tad flabalanched at times.) All in all, this was the year that I felt like I mentally said, Back off, Bitch.

For me, I find that the Back Off is really pretty much required, mentally and physically, about every 5-10 years, depending on my level of intensity and freakishness during the preceding time period. It’s hard for me to ramp up and get “back into” running and racing if I don’t allow myself to wallow around in Not Runners World for a space of time. Back in my late 30s, that space of time was about 8 years, during which I got PFDOS* and averaged about 10 miles a week of blob-a-jogging in order to remain a “runner.” The idea of racing back then, even though I had raced constantly in my 20s and early 30s, was both hilarious and ghastly.

Natch, I don’t plan on spending 8 years lollagagging. Somehow, I suspect that  ramping up! and going for it! at 63 would not be as invigorating and attractive as it was at 45. I don’t really have a timeframe in my mind. Like always, I’ll know when I know. After nearly 40 years of running (dear God), my intuition for the ebb and flow is pretty decent even if my intuition for pacing the first mile in a 5K and for when a constant pain is becoming-an-injury-you-idiot is still fairly sketchtastic.

That being said, I plan on remaining consistent, if less anal about piling on miles or having panic attacks over speed work for a while. I’m pretty sure the “getting back into it” would be a tearful event of gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, if I didn’t continue to jog along 30 or so miles a week. I can go back and forth with the latest silver bullet training concepts, entertain quackery approaches, ingest chia seeds, consider an elliptigo, wear negative ion necklaces, bathe my legs in that stinky shit used to rub down horses (WTF, Tanya?), and try any manner of footwear from racing shoes that look like jaunty neon slippers to training shoes that look like motherfucking boats.

But in the end, and over the years, the only thing that has ever (EVER) worked is month after month/year after year of consistency and a whole hell of a lot of miles. Sometimes I wish it weren’t that simple. And that hard. Which is why sometimes I take a break. Sort of.

Happy 2016, Runner Freaks!

 

 

 

*”pretty fucking disgustingly out of shape”—A mikeymike original!