elvis presley is a bad influence. a photo essay.

Before Elvis:


After Elvis:


Remember kids, if guns are outlawed,
only outlaws will have Elvis.

Don’t be cruel.

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in search of molly seidel

Longtime readers know that Molly Seidel and I have much in common.

■ We have both lost at the New York City Marathon. Yes, I lost by approximately 20,000 more places than she did. But second place is still the first loser.

■ She holds the new record for fastest American woman on the course. I hold the NYC course record for fastest Team Felix member, arguably a loftier standard. Yes, it would be a lengthy argument with much alcohol and monkeys smoking ceegars of questionable origin.

■ She was born on July 12; I was born on July 14. Not quite in the same year, given that I was born during the Roosevelt administration. No, I will not say which Roosevelt.

■ She was once the Gatorade National Female Cross Country Runner of the Year. I have been known to drink too much Gatorade and prance about in a leopard-print dress, although I was not named Cross-Dressing Runner of the Year. Yes, I am bitter.

■ We both are dealing with cracked ribs. Some admittedly are dealing better than others, although she did prompt me to look up the infamous Velominati Rule #5. 

■ She won the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta in 2020. I attended the Olympic marathon in Atlanta in 1996, where I was able to witness approximately 400 meters of the race. This is getting spooky, right? (She did not participate in the 1996 Olympics given that she was  only 2 years old at the time. We also have in common the ability to come up with lame excuses to get out of big races.)

■ She tells people how to pronounce her name by saying it rhymes with “idle,” which happens to be one of my favorite activities. I also enjoyed Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” before it was changed to the more politically correct “Wedding of Indiscriminate Ethnicity.”

■ She is sponsored by Puma. Mo has a pair of beloved Pumas she bought (and I’m not making this up) IN NEW YORK CITY!!!!

■ And WE BOTH LIVE IN ARIZONA!!!!! SHE TRAINS IN FLAGSTAFF!!!! I GOT MARRIED IN FLAGSTAFF!!! Cue the doooooo-weeeeeeeeee-yoooooooo music. Preferably the Billy Idol version.

After last week’s marathon, surely she should be back by now, given that New York has a dearth of tourist attractions and virtually no saguaros. So Mo and I set out today to look up my twinsie and say hello. Small town and an entire day to find her, if 1 p.m. counts as the start of the day. We’re not really morning people. How hard could it be?

Above: We started at Macy’s, the world’s greatest coffeehouse, because a lot of Serious Runners gather there regularly, and mostly because Mo isn’t so good without her morning coffee, which was wearing off. An uncaffeinated Mo is not a Mo you want to be around. As always, the coffee was great. The lemon cranberry muffin Mo chose for me because she is trying to kill me and I have been avoiding the cadmium meat loaf lately, not so much.  But not as much of a disappointment as finding Molly wasn’t there.

Above: So we headed to Buffalo Park, home of a 2-mile dirt loop the Big Kids frequent. We saw one crazy-fast guy, a bunch of mortals, some dogs, and someone who from a distance we thought might be her because of diminutive height. But it turned out to be a 3-year-old boy. Being shy, I did not ask his mom if he happens to hold the 3-year-old age group record for the NYC Marathon. But Molly (yes, we’re on a first-name basis) is  just a few days out from a major marathon effort, so maybe she’s not back in intensive training quite yet.

Above: So possibly she’s hiking during her recovery? We checked the Arizona Trail, given that she lives in Arizona and this is its trail. Duh. But no Molly. There was, however, a metal gate, and Molly won a bronze medal. Coincidence?

Above: Mo went into paparazzi mode, staking out the trail just below Snowbowl in case Molly had switched back to high-altitude training. Arizona legalized pot this year, you know.  Sha’Carri Richardson Syndrome.  No Molly sightings, but I may or may not have seen Bigfoot. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, and Mo has Unusually Large Hokas.

Below: Mo was thinking maybe we should just leaf her alone. HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry. High altitude makes me giddy. (Also, it turns out we were three weeks too late to see the aspens change colors. This was the only leaf we could find.)

Below: And then I realized what I hadn’t realized before I realized it. The perfect enticement for a reclusive runner? BEER!!!!! She loves beer. The interviewer had asked her after NYC what she was doing next and she said, “I hope there’s a beer at the hotel room.” So we went to Beaver Street Brewery, ordered an IPA and a stout, and waited. And waited. We were careful not to drink the beer we were using as bait, until Mo drank them. Mo is not quite as excited about meeting runners as I am. If the ghost of Georgia O’Keeffe ever drops by looking for beer, she will get none from me.

We waited. And waited. And then we gave up.

And then.

As we were preparing to leave in defeat, MOLLY FREAKING SEIDEL WALKED RIGHT PAST US on the sidewalk facing our window. Unbelievable. We were staring through a window at the Olympic bronze medalist, walking casually in front of the dog laundromat with three other people. We could have reached out and touched her, except for the aforementioned glass, the 30-foot distance, and COVID-19 restrictions that may or may not be in effect in a blue city in a slightly purple state. I don’t get out much.

She was disguised as an elderly Amish woman, as were her companions, who may or may not have been her coach and BOTH of the Olsen twins. She was hunched over slightly with a limp, likely the unsavory side effects of running a distance well-known to make your uterus fall out. But it HAD to be her. Female, same height, give or take a foot (hard to see her foot with the long dress), and the distinctive Goodr sunglasses. OK, they were just regular glasses. She was in disguise, remember. Sorry, Goodr for this lapse in sponsorship responsibilities.

Should we have gone up to her and asked for a song? Maybe put a harmony? Possibly procure an autographed green bean for TO? No, just seeing her was enough. We didn’t approach her; she didn’t approach us. Mo was roaring drunk by this point and would have caused a scene anyhow. Better to walk away.

Lessons learned?

■ Olympic runners are just like the rest of us,  only  faster. Some are elitist poopheads (sorry, Rupp), some are shy, some are goofy. Some you imagine would be a fine person to spend a Thursday afternoon with in northern Arizona. All are human beings.

■ Beaver Street makes a mighty fine stout, but you have to drink it really quickly when sitting next to Mo.

■ Any time you go to Buffalo Park, you’ll end up singing “The Cowboy Song” by Thin Lizzy for the rest of the day. Never was sure which one was Lizzy.

■ Mo has declared if the little house with a studio behind it next to Macy’s ever becomes available, she will buy it immediately. She mentioned nothing about bringing me along. I will have to buy her a lot more beer before she makes that decision. Molly Seidel likely will use her NYC winnings to buy the house out from under us. On second thought, I just looked it up and it’s only $25,000 for fourth place, which would barely cover a month’s rent for a one-bedroom apartment here. Maybe we can sell her Mo’s Pumas.

■ I hope Molly flies into Phoenix from NYC and stops by our place on the way back to Flag, I will not answer the door.

Oops, gotta go. I think Sara and Ryan Hall may have just walked by, disguised as golden retrievers. Did I ever mention that Ryan Hall and I both ran in Asics Hyperspeeds and I very much enjoy Sara Lee snack cakes? They’re just like us, I tell you. Only runnier.

Roll me over and set me free.
The cowboy’s life is the life for me.

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the quotable mo sheppo, parts 30 and 31

“I don’t know if this is a work of art or a dead tree.”

“These are real tamales. I’m eating stuff and I have no idea what it is.”

(coincidentally, she’s wearing a jacket and I have no idea what it is.)
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i would have made a great busted rock star

except of course for my total lack of musical talent. I do, however, play a mean Sonic chocolate shake.

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waltz # 3

I’m here today and expected to stay
On and on and on
I’m tired

I’m tired

— the prophet Steven Paul Smith

The important thing in any meaningful cancer discussion is running shoes.

The PA asks me if those are the shoes I run in. I explain, no, they’re another in my endless series of failed experiments. But they’re now my go-to chemo shoes.

He nods, that understanding of someone who’s been in the trenches with you for a while, although he’s nowhere near the True Believer dogma of my oncologist. Life is a series of compromises.

He says he’s wearing Asics these days. Mostly Nimbus. Used to be Kayanos, but they went dead too quickly. He just did the Disney 6-Day with his kids and the Nimbus worked great, other than the long lines and his wife’s low phone battery life. I’m not sure you can blame Asics for that.

He’s curious how many miles I get out of shoes. I tell him the current ones have a nudge under 700 miles, although my knee is suggesting I switch to Roscoe, the new pair waiting patiently to come in from the sidelines. Sort of like being the backup to Tom Brady, I guess. I don’t tell him about the Piranhas and the 1,000-mile game. There’s only so much you can cover in a doctor visit.

What’s your sweet spot for the drop in the shoe? Padding preference? What’s your price point?

I tell him I lean toward minimalism stuff and don’t really pay much attention to drops, other than $300 worth of exiled Altras sitting in the closet wondering why I ever started the relationship when I knew it would never work out. And I don’t worry about shoe prices these days, since I bill them to the insurance company as part of the oncology bill.

Mostly I buy shoes to match the color of my sunglasses, and I just bought pink ones in an unfortunate late-night stupor. But he doesn’t need to know that. Although he’s wearing a bow tie in a color not found in nature.

And then eventually we run out of stuff and have to talk about cancer. Numbers good, tolerance fine, prognosis good, blah blah fluffy. I ask him what happens when we get to the end of the chemo road, nine visits later over a year and a half, and he says some stuff about studies that have been done and the reality is that they don’t really know yet. You can follow a marathon training plan, but there’s no way of being assured what lies in the 25th mile. Marathons are just 25 miles, right? It’s been a while.

He walks me down the hall to the infusion center. I say my financial guy predicts I will live to be 90, though it’s likely because I pay him a lot. The PA nods and says to be wary of financial advisers. Bottom line, they’re just salesmen, he says. The words roll around in my head. I understand what he’s saying. But then he’s selling me a two-year chemo plan with no warranty. Trust the science. Until you don’t.

And now it’s 2 a.m. and the fuzzy thing is back in my head, an inevitable byproduct of the obinutuzumab mambo. A couple of crappy days ahead, followed by a really crappy day after that, and them I’m not sure how many sorta crappy days after that, followed by a gradual return to normalcy, a sure sign that it’s time for the next round. All the while, trying to forget this makes my covid susceptibility so great that they’re no longer taking bets on my odds in Vegas.

I’m not sure I know what to believe in anymore. Trust your coach, the old running saying goes. Trust the plan.


I’m here today and I’m expected to stay, Elliott Smith wrote. On and on and on, I’m tired. I’m tired.

And then he died.

Me? Maybe I’ll see how far I can go in the old Beacons. A lot of a miles and an uncertain sole. Just like me.

Looking out on the substitute scene
Still going strong
XO, mom

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