just another morning conversation, part 70

me: the guy who killed 84 people in france is described as a moody oddball. 

mo: uh oh. that could be you. nah, you’re not an oddball. 

me: i’m orchestrating a facebook live birthday event with a reindeer. 

mo: oh, yeah. never mind.

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just another morning conversation, part 69

me: we need a ba-dum-bum. 

mo: i haven’t had coffee yet. 

me: why have you not had coffee?

mo: i have, but it isn’t working. 

me: oh. 

we don’t talk much in the morning. 

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hope gallery, part 2

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a pirate looks at 60

Yes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late.
— the prophet jimmy buffett

if you had asked young gary if he thought old gary would make it to the big milestone, he would say “LIVE UNTIL I’M 40? NOT LIKELY!!!!”

so i feel a bit apologetic to tell him that we’re running past the 60-year marker  with a pile of running shoes that cost more than young gary earned in a year. journalism wasn’t the cash cow back then that it is today.

i didn’t have much of a plan in the early days. i just loved to run, so that’s what i did. 5ks led to 10ks led to marathons led to ultras led to crazy ultras led to marathons led to 5ks led to pleasant strolls along the bay. but the one thing that stayed the same over the years: there’s never been a day in the past 37 years that i haven’t had the urge to pull on a pair of shoes and go find some joy. what more can you ask in a lifetime?

what i learned:

  1. just do it. this could be a slogan. we tend to put things on the back burner. don’t put off that goal for a year or two or 10. don’t. you never know what’s up ahead. don’t squander your life. live it. run. suffer. celebrate. repeat.
  2. squirrels are evil. don’t trust them.
  3. socks are for suckers.
  4. running friends are the best friends. they know your essence. they share your love. don’t take them for granted. but it’s ok to drop them in the last mile. because. racing.
  5.  explore. it’s a big world. when you’re flying, you look out the plane window and see those trails and mountains and roads. go find as many as you can. they’ll be there forever; you won’t.
  6. gu expiration dates are just a suggestion. no, a dare. ignore them. trust me on this one.
  7. worry about times. and don’t worry about them at all. this makes sense if you think about it. don’t.
  8. if you can’t run, walk. or bike. or swim. or do something that gives you that daily hour of play called for by the prophet sheehan.
  9. always honor the running gods. give it your best, whatever that is.
  10. if you come across a moostachioed pineapple with a vaguely european accent, keep walking.
  11. beer. or popsicles. or whatever your celebration is at the end of a run. never, ever forget to celebrate.
  12. ignore all of the above. dr. sheehan said it’s an experiment of one. write your own rules.

i don’t know for sure what young gary would say if we met up at a race. hopefully he’d be satisfied that we’re still lining up after all these years. and i’m still looking for the perfect pair of shoes. and driving two hours next weekend for a 5k nobody ever heard of. maybe we’d get along.

mostly, i think he’d like that i’m still looking at those trails and thinking, “man, i’ve got to run that.” and i will till i die. we’d be good running partners. come to think of it, i guess we are. i never quite got around to growing up. running will do that to you.

On to the seventh decade …


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living in a cell

they’re on a date. i guess.

we’re eating at a trendy lunch place. i’m not sure what trendy means, other than my pimiento cheese sandwich costs 10 bucks and there are an obscene number of art-deco elvis paintings. but mo has a hankering for poblano soup, and these guys deliver. i’m not sure what hankering means, but i’m scared of mo when she’s hungry.

they’re maybe 16. the guy has bangs that might have worked when i was in high school in 1974. he’s wearing a proper plaid shirt and khakis. real shoes. i hate real shoes. the girl is wearing a black dress that would work at a cocktail party, if 16-year-olds went to cocktail parties. they’re sitting across from each other as they wait for their order. and they each seem to be unaware that the other exists.

they’re both glued to their iphones. they stare intently, thumbing from page to page, switching from app to app. they never speak; they never look up. at first i think it’s just a quick thing. but after five minutes, they’re still at it. is there a new pokemon lunch app that requires this during meals? is this just a thing now? i kick mo and point it out. she laughs and says she was glad she was born when she was.

their meals come, but they’re undeterred. they eat their sandwiches with one hand while holding the phone up with the other. mo decides it’s not just an awkward date. they must be a couple, she says. they’re sharing phones. sure enough, the girl has handed the guy her phone to show him something. is this the new generation’s equivalent of friendship bracelets?

i try to stealthily take a photo to post to facebook, but it seems too intrusive. which makes me think of facebook. i go there to see if there’s a conversation going on about today’s tour stage. which of course means i have to go to twitter to see updates. then it’s over to velonews and letsrun for other viewpoints. and instagram. just in case. i realize i am totally ignoring mo. but she’s checking her phone too. so i go back guiltlessly to see the latest updates. and then just a peek at the nyt homepage. and then back to facebook. because facebook never sleeps. mo is texting someone from work, so she’s ok with it. the meal goes by quickly.

as we walk out, they’re still at it. slaves to their phones. sad.

i’m glad our generation knows better.


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life is funny, part 363

he’s wearing an incredibly cool pair of vintage asics racers. i’m smitten.

i have just finished 2 miles on the dirt track at cole, seeing if the softer surface would help my ailing knee. it did not. maybe i’m finished? it would be pretty funny if my knee called it quits just as i transitioned to full-time runner. payback for covering black sabbath in the southern baptist youth center in my younger days? oh, well. worth it.

i am waiting to pay for my slush monkey. as i was pouring it (a laborious task given the need to mix coke, cherry and mountain dew flavors in the correct portion and layer of the drink) i was eavesdropping on three police officers standing nearby. conversation on race relations? how to stay safe in a deteriorating landscape? that jig bush was doing at the memorial service? none of the above. they were talking kale.

it was a discussion on smoothies. kelp and kale and spinach and the proper way to combine them for smoothies, which made me feel bad about pretending to be an athlete while dishing up a drink whose main ingredients are sugar and, ummm, well, i guess just sugar.

but then as i get in line, the cop in front of me has a dr pepper and a bag of peanut m&ms. this seems like a better choice. if you’re going to go out and risk your life on a daily basis, do it with a dr pepper and m&ms in your belly. as he waits in line, the guy with the yellow asics motions to him. i’m buying those, he says.

he’s maybe 30, t-shirt and baggy shorts, and the world’s greatest pair of vintage asics. i might have mentioned them already. seems like a nice guy. the cop resists, but the guy is adamant. a small gesture after an awful week. the cop finally agrees (dr pepper is getting warm.) the cashier checks them out. they shake hands and the cop says thanks. the guy tells him thank YOU. and that was that.

it made me think. about how little gestures can mean a lot. about how we take people for granted too often. about how three bucks is a small price for someone who could be taking a bullet for you later in the day. about how maybe the world will be ok after all.

but mostly it made me think:

where the hell did he get those shoes?

life is funny …

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hope gallery, part 1

mo found out too late you’re supposed to wear a mask. and gloves. and sunscreen.

but we had sandy’s custard and migas afterward, so at least she’ll die happy.

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