Month: May 2015

Make Way for Beadlings.

Repost from one year ago:

The Lemonade Chronicles


I stumbled on this scene yesterday along Crissy Field in the midst of a slow afternoon run.

The run was my first in nearly 3 weeks. For the past 40 minutes, I had been shuffling along distractedly, constantly evaluating my body’s feedback. Can I pull off this race in 10 days or not? Has this sneaky virus robbed me of the training I dutifully banked in recent months? Or did I have enough in my account to avoid being overdrawn on race day? If the latter, I could probably still grind through the day. It would just be more painful than I had originally bargained for, most likely. But I hadn’t felt that sort of “make you want to quit after the next step” pain in over 10 years.

That’s a long time. Perhaps too long. I once knew exactly when to expect the pain, or at least recognized the…

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The Thrill Is Gone Away.

Screenshot 2015-05-15 08.28.04In his first major league at-bat — the first time he offered at a pitch, in fact — a sweet-swinging 22 year-old crushed a Nolan Ryan fastball over the center field fence. Thus began the MLB career of Will “The Thrill” Clark.

Now, Nolan Ryan was a badass.  Perhaps the badass.  Scared the hell out of batters for nearly 30 years with a 100 mph fastball and knee-buckling curve.  On occasion, a foolhardy hitter would charge the mound in anger, only to be jackhammered by the most intimidating pitcher alive.

Screenshot 2015-05-15 08.15.34

I’ve heard that Will Clark used B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” as his answering machine greeting.  When Will was traveling, out of town, on the road, whatever, people who called his phone heard B.B. tell them that the prodigy wasn’t home.  But this was the opposite of “I’ll be right back.” B.B made the caller feel like sobbing, with a pit in his (or more likely, her) gut.  Made them feel like they couldn’t muster the strength to take another breath into their lungs after that last exhale.  What was the point of even trying to carry on? I’ll just sit here, collapsed and shattered, on my living room carpet, chest heaving, clutching the plastic phone in my trembling fingers, until he is no longer “gone.”  That type-deal.


So Will’s first MLB at-bat made him “King of the Badasses.”  The most badass of them all.  (I went to law school to avoid math, but I believe this is how the math works here.)  The story of the “Thrill Is Gone” answering machine message burned into my adolescent brain:  The “Official Soundtrack of Badasses.”  If you wanted to make an impact, make people gasp when you walked into — and out of — a room, simply hit your first major league home run off Nolan Ryan with your first swing of the bat.  Oh, and play some B.B. King on your answering machine.

RIP, B.B., I will be playing you all day long.

“The Thrill Is Gone”

The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away
You know you done me wrong baby
And you’ll be sorry someday

The thrill is gone
It’s gone away from me
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away from me
Although, I’ll still live on
But so lonely I’ll be

The thrill is gone
It’s gone away for good
The thrill is gone baby
It’s gone away for good
Someday I know I’ll be open armed baby
Just like I know a good man should

You know I’m free, free now baby
I’m free from your spell
Oh I’m free, free, free now
I’m free from your spell
And now that it’s all over
All I can do is wish you well

Thanks for reading.

Training with Frisbee-Thin Possums. 

I’ve chosen some unusual venues in which to break a sweat in the past. I have less-than-fond memories of pounding out laps circling the perimeter of a cracked pavement parking lot in Tulsa strewn with cigarette butts. Baking at 100 degrees. Private law practice, with its six-minute increments and time-compressed trips to gather deposition testimony, made for some unpleasant training sessions. Cranking out laps in 20-yard hotel pools, scraping my fingernails in the shallow end. Narrowly missing closed head injury during sketchy flip turns in 12 inches of over-chlorinated pool water. 

I left all that behind, though, when I gave up law practice many moons ago. Yep, nothing but moonlit single track interval training. The pungent smell of non-native eucalyptus heavy in the air. Lazy lattes after heart-pounding hills on the bike in Marin. Sweat wicked away effortlessly by only the absolute latest in performance fabric technology. The trendiest pastel stripe blazed across my jersey’s front. The edgiest last name of European descent logo’d on my left butt cheek. My pockets stuffed full of foil-encased energy gels bearing flavors like “Raspberry Monkey Java,” and “Fuel of the Gods.” Leaping over unidentifiable roadkill. Weaving around tightly-tied, black trash bags on the roadside bursting at the seams. Preparing to dive into burnt roadside undergrowth with every oncoming car and its obligatory bass thumping with distaste for dudes wearing sparkly compression socks and Carolina blue running sneakers. 

Yeah, it’s like that. 

I’d prefer eucalyptus and Fuel of the Gods. But Hefty bags and frisbee-thin possums (or skunks or squirrels or cats, or actual frisbees) are mostly what I get. 

Like yesterday. 

My 13 year-old’s baseball team’s tournament in Modesto collided headlong with my growing fear of a “DNF” in a race one month hence, due to 46 year-old hamstrings without enough recent mileage in them. Only way to avoid that kind of ego-crushing outcome is to slog through the preparatory miles on the appointed days beforehand, without fail. 

So I find myself pounding colorful, “zero drop” shoes on boiling pavement. Whipping my head back and forth and back again whilst gingerly prancing over the impossibly active train tracks. Hoping my being so hopelessly out of place will not inspire some road range incident. I rehearse in my mind twisting my body Matrix-like to avoid a crushed Monster Energy can hurtling in my direction at 70 MPH. In the midst of one such rehearsal, I crunch underfoot the backbone of something long dead. I imagine it was a cute little sparrow rather than a housecat or feral skunk. Truth be told, I’d prefer the lingering emotional sting from the cat rather than the skunk oil. We have 2 long hours of driving ahead of us and the Prius’ AC would give that skunk stink some awful currency. 

The aforementioned Hefty bags are everywhere. Most bulge with what could be elbows and shoulders. It’s all I can do to resist looking hard at the mute bags, for fear of seeing something — or someone — poking out that would require spelling my name for a police report and testifying against a fellow with tatooed knuckles back in this county a year from now. I ignore this civic duty of mine even while acknowledging that there exists a 23% chance I will end up in a roadside Hefty bag given my poor training venue choice this particular afternoon. I can live with 23%. 

Mercifully, the humid and ill-conceived run ends uneventfully, as it turns out. Other than the fragile bone fragments I pluck from my sneaker’s treads, nothing I encountered along the way will disrupt my sleep  tonight. And lo and behold, I’ve managed to sock away another hour to bring me that much closer to crossing in one piece my first finish line in 13 years.  

Nothing but glamorous, postcard-perfect sessions for me, from here on out. Well, at least until next weekend. 

Thanks for reading.