Run, Forrest, Run
Once in a while I get a strange notion to do something crazy and stretch the mind. In this case, it's the body that's being stretched.
When the going got tough this January, I decided that maybe Forrest Gump had an idea and perhaps I would run my way to spring. God knows I need direction and guidance on this, since up until now my idea of running is when someone is chasing me.
I will admit to having run a few 5K races around town in the last few years. I'll be honest -- I barely ever ran between races. I did it for the sport of it or just to prove I have guts. This time I joined a running group to train for one of Cincinnati's big races.
The running group met at the New Balance Running Spot Store for our long run in Glendale this week. Everyone seemed eager to get started. After training for the last six weeks in muck and worse, the idea of clean sidewalks and streets had us giddy and geared for the prospect of six to eight miles.
With the Humana Heart Mini-Marathon 26 coming up on March 30, it's time to get some distance in. Bob Roncker is the fearless leader who's training this group of 63. It's all ages and all levels of walkers and runners. Some will be doing a 5K race, while others the 10K race and, in my case, the 15K race. Believe me, this is a stretch. Under Bob's tireless direction I'm beginning to think it'll actually happen. The goal is to finish the 9.3 miles on the Sunday that ends March and that signifies to me the end of a forsaken winter.
The best part of running twice a week with this group is the social aspect for me. It beats hitting the ground running alone when the only thing to keep you company is your aching muscles. I've never found the zone or the runner's high that others talk about. In fact, I've given up looking for it. Instead I enjoy the idle chatter we have as we cover the distance.
It makes the time go by quickly and the misery of my legs less noticeable. Plus a small group of us usually grab a bite to eat afterwards.
Tonight we decided to try The Friendly Stop, which is indeed a friendly spot. It didn't mind that we were sweating and not all that fresh-smelling. Plus the tables and chairs moved easily to accommodate the 12 of us. The pitchers of beer and water lined the middle of the table and disappeared rapidly. We caught a little grief from the bar patrons when they saw us tear into our burgers and the famous whiskey barbecue complete with fries, but we were too hungry to defend ourselves.
We discovered that each of us run for different reasons with different goals in mind. Some run like gazelles, while others plod along. Everyone dreads the upcoming hill training, and the speed work on Saturdays doesn't seem to thrill anyone in particular.
But we all agree it's good to train together. Misery loves company.
Dog's Night Out
My friend Jim was leaving town and his job for a trip to New York. Kristine and I were to meet him Friday night at The Comet.
After a long day, including a four-hour meeting at work, I was ready for a party, but I'd assumed our send-off would be small. Things always get lost in the mail between the three of us. Simple plans always morph into fiascoes, so when I arrived Jim was sitting with a group of co-workers and Kristine was nowhere to be found. Jim pulled out a chair for me and introduced us all.
"You guys look like you could be brother and sister," said one of the girls.
Jim and I glanced at each other and smiled.
It was true that we looked similar. We had the same German/Italian heritage and he looked dead-on my mom when he smiled.
I first met Jim in a poetry class when I was a sophomore. He had the greenest eyes I'd ever seen, and I was instantly attracted. As fate would have it, he was dating someone else at the time, but we ended up being friends. With my dating record, if we had gone out, we'd be history by now. Instead, we've been friends for five years.
A couple of Jim's friends decided on a game of pool. Never one to miss out on billiards, I dragged Jim along with me. Playing pool at The Comet is a challenge, especially when there's a band playing, which there was that night -- my friend Rob's. I was excited to see them play for the first time and was part listening and part trying not to knock people in the head with my pool stick.
One of the reasons I like pool so much is because it beats the hell out of boring bar chat. Plus you can learn a lot about a person's character when you play. For instance, Jim often shoots the balls too hard, sometimes sending one flying off the table. I have my theories on this, but I'll keep them to myself.
Jim pointed out a girl at a nearby table who'd "stalked" him in college. I did recall one day on campus when he made me walk beside him and pretend to be more than friends. But I was under the impression that having come from an all-boys school, maybe he was unschooled about ladies -- or just a little paranoid. Anyhow, the girl was sitting at a table with a guy, so either she'd long gotten over him or she had no idea who he was.
Jim must've seen me eyeing the photo booth, because when the game was over we hopped inside. After the four bright shots of light, we waited impatiently for the four images to drop down the slot. In the first one, Jim looked like a ghost and, in another, I looked like I was having an orgasm.
Since we lost the pool table, we headed to the other room and ran into Kristine and her boyfriend occupying the only space left available -- by the beer coolers. We showed her our photos and she wanted to get some taken. We descended on the booth a second time.
Jim must've been happy with the situation. When the photos were done, yet another photo dispute arose over how to split them up. I kept out of it this time.
I saw my friend Shawn down at the other end of the bar and ran up to say "Hello," holding my arms out dramatically. It could've been a scene from a movie. But when he tried to pick me up and swing me around, he couldn't get me off the ground. I decided it was time to unglue myself from the Direct TV and start exercising. Yeah, right.
Shawn had been MIA due to a cold. His hair had grown a lot since I'd last seen him. Just when I was going to suggest he grow dreadlocks...
"You look fantastic," he said.
It took me so much by surprise, it completely made up for the fact he couldn't lift my hefty 117 lbs.
He was hanging out with a friend of his, or "girlfriend sitting," as I like to call it. So I left him to his post and headed back to our corner where my boyfriend was. He told me Leslie, one of the owners of Avant Garage, the store just two doors down, had her dogs with her, so I wanted to visit. When I walked out of The Comet, my boyfriend knocked on the window from inside the bar to get my attention. I looked up to see a very mature drawing of a penis he'd done on the glass.
When I arrived, I was instantly greeted by two mild-tempered dogs. The bigger one was a chow mix and, although he looked aggressive, he merely sniffed around my shoes. The small one was a miniature pinscher mix named Cocoa. They followed me throughout the store, the smaller one scrambling at my feet for me to pet.
Leslie was proud of the cleaning she'd done in the room behind the counter. "Look, you can see the floor," she said.
"I'll be taking one of these guys," I said. I wanted to kidnap the little pinscher, Cocoa.
Leslie knows my boyfriend and that he'd love a pet so long as he didn't have to feed, walk, pet or pay any attention to it. With a sigh, I returned to the bar and rejoined my friends. Kristine's ex-boyfriend, who must have her on his radar, was working there that night. We managed not to speak of him, until he needed to get by us to take out the garbage.
"Here comes the trash," I said.
Apparently, Kristine heard because she immediately started laughing very loudly. I began to wonder if I'd meant the double-meaning.
While pondering this awful ability to be mean and nice simultaneously, Jim was on his way to Northside Tavern. He invited Kristine and me along. I didn't promise to go, which was good because I never made it. Sometimes you just know you probably won't see anything new under the Cincinnati sun.
A Tex-Mex Special
I needed a break this Monday from the "Happy St. Patrick's Day/Let's Go to War" activities, so I decided to go to the Southgate House for a musical distraction. Calexico was playing. One of my favorite bands, Ruby Vileos, was opening up for them.
I arrived early since I just had to get out of my house after watching the President's speech. My friend Rob was sitting at the bar chatting away with his ex-girlfriend. Rob is normally a very light-hearted guy with an extremely quick wit, but that night he was just as focused on the impending war as I was. When he saw me walk up, he said, "Happy 48 hours till we go to war day!"
After a couple of beers and a couple of shots, we were able to relax a little bit. My mood was greatly improved when Ally from Ruby Vileos walked by Rob and me and just smiled. There's something amazing about her that just her slight little smile and her band's music can make me forget nearly all my worries, if only for a while.
Right before Ruby Vileos took the stage, I noticed an old gal-pal of mine from years ago. If you'd asked me five years ago where I thought my relationship with C. was going, I would have told you we would be married by now. It's amazing how much can change in five years.
We're social when we see each other out and about, but we never call or e-mail the other anymore. It was nice seeing her again, though. She's going through that phase of a recent break-up where she's lost weight, quit drinking and is very close to quitting smoking.
A few of our mutual friends want us to get back together. After a quick catch-up chat, I realized that even though we both still care for each other, neither one of us is interested in going back down the dating path again.
Calexico was simply amazing. They're an interesting mix of Tex-Mex and low-fi indie music. This was the first time I've seen them play with an entire band, including slide guitar, horns and keyboards. They made a few timely anti-war and anti-Bush comments that played very well to the crowd of like-minded individuals.
I was really sad when they played their last song of the night. It meant that I would have to go home by myself and try not to turn on the TV and watch the non-stop news coverage.
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