Running with Rage

Eric Rutin discusses running, life and other semi-important things

How I would make the Winter Olympics better in 2018

February, 23, 2014

Like many people around the globe I have spent a good deal of my time the past two weeks watching the Olympics in Sochi.  Despite all the issues with the hotels the games seem to have gone pretty well.  But I think I should be made the new Olympic Tsar for the Winter Games because I know three ways that will transform them from good to great.

Sex, guns and jumps.

Why?

Well the biathlon has been my favorite event.  I don’t think people realize how insane it is to be in a full-out sprint then being able to calm your body to hit a target the size of a grapefruit.

The snowboard and skicross are awesome because there are wipeouts galore and anything can happen until you cross the finish line and usually does. Just ask Lindsey Jacobellis how safe a lead is.

And has anyone else noticed that the winter Olympians are an unusually good looking group?  It is almost criminal that they only hold the Winter Olympics every four years when you look like this.

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Sex

One of my major sweeping changes would be to make more sports co-ed.   It seems to work for ice-skating.  Take that sex appeal and spread it around.  How cool would it be to have a co-ed snowboard relay? Actually pretty much every even other than hockey should have a mixed division come to think of it.

Think about the bobsled.  The woman could be in the back yelling at the male driver about how poorly he is steering. Instead of tucked in behind you would see her head peeping out to each side the occasional swat to the helmet as they speed down the track.

The two “man” luge would take on a whole new meaning.  The more traditional teams would have the woman on the bottom while some of the more progressive teams would allow the woman to be on top.  I would love to have Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski providing analysis and insights into the this one.  In my Olympics they would commentate on all the sports. They know when to talk and when to be quiet and damn they know fashion like no one’s business.

Weir Lipinski clearly the best sports announcers in ANY sport.

Lipinski/Weir clearly the best sports announcing tandem in ANY sport.

And lets not even talk about curling when the men can yell at the women to sweep, sweep, sweep.  Yea chauvinistic I know, but still would make for good TV.

Guns

Why limit the shooting to just the biathlon?  Lets add shooting to more events.  How about skeleton on to opposite tracks that end 50 yards apart?  As soon as the racer hits the bottom they then have to shoot the opposing racer.  Obviously not real guns or the silver and bronze would need to be awarded posthumously.  Instead, each person heads down their track with a paint gun strapped to their back.

Have targets on each side of the ski jump and while the skier flies through the air they are shooting skeet. Distance plus number of targets equals the winner.

Imagine curling with the opposition shooting at the sweepers rather than passively awaiting their turns.  Overnight curling would become an adrenaline junkie game.

Jumping

Once again, other than hockey, every sport should have jumps in it.

Watch this and there will be, can be no debate that jumps are frickin awesome and need to be added to EVERYTHING. After you watch it. watch it again, it that cool.

The skeleton needs to ditch the track and go down the mogul course.  Zipping down that head first like all of us that grew up in snow climates did as a kid.  I mean come on, both luge and skeleton are just glorified sledding so lets return it to its roots and make the athletes take some jumps. Then we have a sport.

Think how exciting the bobsled would be if it ended with a nice 20 foot ramp? The sport needs something to make it more competitive. Winning by .01 seconds isn’t something that should be celebrated.  A few years ago this would be a tie.  Now if they launched themselves at the conclusion, we have a real sport worth watching.

If all goes well I will be appointed the new Olympic and 2018 will be anointed the XY Games. 

14 Best Movies for Valentines Day

February 12, 2014

Eric Rutin's Most Romantic MoviesOK, you have two days to get your gifts and plan your evening for Valentine’s Day.  In my generous and benevolent mood, I am providing a list of the best romantic movies you can hit Netflix, Redbox, OnDemand, or whatever means you use these days to rent your movies to enjoy with your loved one on Valentine’s Day.  Some may say this is biased, but I assure you it is based on extensive research and this ranking is purely objective and undebatable.

14. Crossing Delancy  - This is a little known movie from the 80s that takes the classic boy gets girl out of his league story and makes it purely enjoyable and fresh.  Peter Riegert’s best work outside of Animal House.

13. Love Actually – This of course is one of the best movies regardless of the qualifications. In fact I was trying to justify it as an action movie to my son the other day.  The only reason it is lucky 13 and not higher is because, in the spirit of objectivity, it doesn’t focuses on Valentine’s Day but rather the Christmas holiday.  But it is a collection of compelling love stories which makes it perfect for Valentine’s Day.  And is there a more romantic gesture than Mark standing outside with signs professing his love to Juliet?  Oh yea there is – Jamie asking Aurelia to marry him in the restaurant in broken Portuguese.

12. Boxing Helena – Yea a love story, of sorts.  Everyone expresses their love in their own way.  Some give a box of chocolates, some chop off the limbs of the object of their affection and boxes them.  If your Valentine is uncomfortable with the message of this flick, you can always try Fatal Attraction.

11. Better Off Dead – Most would probably pick Say Anything from the John Cusack collection, but Better of Dead depicts teen love even better.  What is tougher, standing in the front yard with a radio over your head or taking on the K-12 for a French exchange student?

10. Magnum P.I. Season 7 Episodes 1-2, 18 – Magnum meets Cynthia and falls in love.  First reason, Magnum P.I. is the best TV show of all time and secondly, Cynthia was played by Dana Daleny who was my PIN in the 80s.   And the saxophone music is too awesome.

9. The Wedding Singer – Awesome mullets, great 80s story line, Adam Sandler is not annoying and Drew Berrymore is adorable.  What else do you need?  Billy Idol?  Well it has that as well.

8. Dirty Dancing – Nobody puts Baby in a corner.  Enough said.

7. Notting Hill – Boy meets mega movie star girl. Boy loses mega movie star girl. Boy gets mega movie star girl in a grand gesture. Plus isn’t the scene at the end of Hugh Grant laying on Julia Roberts’ lap on a park bench reading what we all aspire to have?

6. When Harry Met Sally – A place almost all of us have been when you realize the one person you love is right in front of you.  It was a toss up between this and Some Kind of Wonderful.

5. Edward Scissorhands – Even hands of blades can not stop love.  Makes any excuse we may have for not pursing love seem insignificant.

4. For Love of the Game – Perfect blend of a  love story and a sports story.  Some may choose Bull Durham but not me.  This is a movie that no matter how many times I see it I always get nervous as the innings progress and cross my fingers for Bill Chapel.

3. Last of the Mohicans – “You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.”  How we have all wished we had said that to a girl at some point in our lives.  And yet that still isn’t as moving as Uncas and Alice Munro in the final scene.  I challenge anyone to find stronger depiction of true love outside of The Princess Bride.

2. Definitely, Maybe – If you need me to explain this to you then I suspect you would prefer #12 on this list.

1. The Princess Bride – First of all, it is the best movie regardless of what list you are talking about.  Period.  Secondly, It is the best movie regardless of what list you are talking about.  Just had to say it again in case you didn’t get it the first time.  Lastly, “as you wish” is the best line in any movie. Period. And there are 100 almost as good lines in the movie as well.

Well there you have it.  Pick one of these or binge on the whole list and your Valentine’s Day is sure to be  success.

Do you think I left anything off?

Kale and Fruit Salad Recipe

January 30, 2014

Ok, before I start this recipe, why did I initially date this 1.30.98?  Did I just miss six years?  Hmmm

Eric Rutin's Kale Fruit SaladOK, so this is a recipe for a delicious and I think somewhat healthy salad I have been making a lot lately.

The recipe is yummy, easy and quite flexible but here is how I make it.

A bunch of Kale

1 Chicken Breast

1 Small Can of Mandarine Oranges

1 Small Can of Diced Pineapple

10 Fresh Strawberries sliced in half

1 Handful of Chopped Walnuts

1 Handful of Feta Cheese

? Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

1 Brownie A’La Mode

OK, now that you have the ingredients, please follow the preperation steps very carefully.  Grill the chicken breast and season it how you like. I sometimes use garlic, sometimes lemon pepper sometimes others stuff.  Then slice it up. You can also mix up the fruit depending on your mood.  Toss in some different berries, try some sliced apple.

In a bowl toss all the ingredients then add as much dressing as you like.

Eat.Eric Rutin's Brownie A/La Mode

After you eat it, you relax and enjoy a delicious meal then you eat your brownie a’la mode.

Repeat as necessary.

If you need any help with this complex recipe please do not hesitate to reach out and I will do my best to help you through it.

Bon Appetit.

 

 

13 things runners should avoid at all costs

January 19, 2014

Over the past 15 years I have learned many things that have benefited my running experience, but I have also discovered several things that are best avoided.  Avoid typically at all costs.  In an effort to give back to humanity I am graciously offering the following list of 13 things (I figured a historically unlucky number was appropriate) to save you from enduring the pain, discomfort or humiliation that I have gone through.

  1. hell_and_back_fullCounting your chickens before they hatched.  In the 2008 RNR AZ I had trained the best I ever had before and was having a great race.  At mile 16 I decided to stop holding back and increased my pace.  At mile 20 I happily skipped the wall.  Never in my previous six marathons had I felt so strong this late in a race.  I was about sixty yards short of the 24 mile marker when I started to have an inner dialogue.  “Maybe a marathon wasn’t tough enough any more.  Maybe I needed something more challenging.  I was going to PR by a bunch and was feeling great.  Maybe an ultra should be my next race.”  Then about twenty yards shy of that 24 mile marker I was rudely reminded what a marathon was and I hit the wall.  Hard.  It happened that fast.  The final 2.2 miles were absolute hell.  My speedy pace was replaced by a death crawl. Had there been a priest around I would gave converted to Christianity on the spot to get me to that finish line.  Or Buddhism if it happened to be a Buddhist priest. I ended up with my best time but I gave back 5 minutes in that final bit.  I learned that a marathon is 26.2 miles and not a yard less, so my advice to you is to not celebrate until you are across the finish line.
  2. Not choosing your running partner wisely. Jeff is my running buddy and we have run races of all distances, trained in every condition and generally supported each other for over a decade.  But my running buddy is also a ruthless bastard. Running Detroit in 2005 I was hurting around mile 16 and he got me past that.  Then around mile 20 he helped me again when I graciously accepted some Gummi Bears from a kid passing them out to runners and realized it was a bad idea with no water to wash them down.  I helped him when he was starting to fade down the final stretch.  We were doing what running buddies where supposed to do – we were supporting each other.  Back in 2005 you finished on the 50 yard line of Ford Field and when you entered the stadium just past mile 26 there was a four story steep drop to the field level.  At this point Jeff gave me a the arm restraint pushback usually reserved for mother’s holding their kids back as she slams the brakes in traffic.  Then he took off in a mad sprint leaving me a couple of yards behind chasing him.  We had run shoulder to shoulder, stride for stride for 26 miles and then he just dusted me without an ounce of regret beating me by a couple of seconds.  The lesson learned was friendship only lasts until you see the finish line, then it is every man or woman for themselves.Eric Rutin eats Milk Duds
  3. Throwing a handful of Milk Duds in your mouth as you head out the door.  This probably applies to anything you can buy at the movie theater and you would have thought I would had learned my lesson in Detroit, but Jeff forced me to take another lesson from that race.  Before heading out on a run the other day, I saw a box of Milk Duds sitting on the counter and I couldn’t resist.  I poured a reasonable amount into my hand, probably 15 or so, and then popped them into my mouth and out the door I went.  Something to know about Milk Duds is they first redirect all your saliva to allow you to swallow them. Then it returns in a constant flow of thick syrupy mud leaving you spitting again and again and again and again and again and again and again.  Not the end of the world, but certainly not pleasant either.
  4. Practicing peeing your pants. This wasn’t actually me, but rather one of my not-to-be-named Running with Ragers.  She or he (but it was a she) had missed qualifying for Boston in a previous marathon by a mere 2 seconds.  Determined not to let that happen again, she or he (but it was she) showed up at the final long run and announced her or his (but it was her) plan of practicing peeing while running.  The rest of the Ragers applauded her dedication to qualifying but assured her this was a game time only activity that required no practice.  So preparation is key to a good race, but exercise discretion.
  5. Starting a long training run horny.  Ok, this may be TMI, but this is good advice.  When you are out running for 3 plus hours it is often a good time to process things.  Spend that time trying to accomplish something mentally.  Think how you can be a better partner in your relationship or develop a new strategy for client you having problems with at work.  Plan your kid’s birthday party.  Heck figure out the last digit of Pi.  Just do something with resolution.   However if you start a run horny, it only gets worse and worse.  And worse.    No more discussion necessary.Eric Rutin is lost
  6. Not taking care of business before you head out.  Once I was in Denver and went out for a run before some meetings.  As most runners do, I have a pre-run routine that takes care of certain necessities, but when on the road routines often get messed up.  So off I went to run an easy six around downtown Denver at dawn.  I had a Garmin and my plan was to just wing it; run basically out for 3 miles then backtrack to keep from getting lost.  Well because there is a thing called Murphy’s Law, at roughly the farthest point from my hotel nature started calling.  I began looking for a coffee shop, hotel or restaurant anyplace that would have a bathroom.  Yet I seemed to find myself surrounded only by offices other closed businesses.  So I veered off my path only to discover a lovely old neighborhood.  While I am sure the residents were very nice people, I somehow doubt they would have appreciated a 6 AM knock on the door asking to use their bathroom.  Soon my causal search was replaced by a pretty focused one.  I was also well off my route by now and I was relying on my innate sense of direction at this point.  It wasn’t long before my focused search escalated to a panicked one.  Needless to say, I found a coffee shop that was open but of course I was not the only one needing the bathroom.  Murphy’s Law after all.  I discovered the meaning of “just in the nick of time” that morning. So if you are ever thinking you will just hold it until you are done with your run, don’t.  It is a bad idea.
  7. Wearing a CamelBak shirtless on a hot summer day. A few years ago I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon which requires long runs in the Phoenix summer.  When the lows are in the 90s you do pretty much anything and everything to be as cool as possible.  This includes starting long runs at 3:30 AM, to strapping on a CamelBak with 32 ounces of Gatorade to pretty much anything else you can think of to stay cool.  One morning I decided I was going to skip the shirt and just wear my CamelBak.  I discovered that sweat crystalizes on your body as you run and when there is no shirt to buffer the coarse material of a CamelBak you then discover what sandpaper feels like rubbing against naked skin.  If you have not had this wonderful experience it makes chafing a desirable alternative.Eric Rutin thinks tights are never a good idea for a guy
  8. Running tights. if you have a Y chromosome.  I bought running tights when I first started running and quickly realized why they are called tights.  They are tight.  Guys simply shouldn’t wear something that tight.  Girls look fantastic in them, guys don’t.  No guy, no time, no way.  I soon found relaxed fit tights and they rock.  If you have junk, don’t wear tights.  Nothing else needs to be said.
  9. Thinking you are bad ass.   A long time ago when I was much younger and thought I was pretty cool and a good runner, I came up with the notion of shaving my hair into a mohawk for a marathon.  I was sure I was going to PR and I thought I would look like a bad ass running with a mohawk akin to one of my heroes, Joe Strummer.  The only problem is you have to respect the marathon and I am not Joe Strummer.  I ran a solid half before my hip started bothering me.  By the time I hit 16 there was a distinct popping noise emitting from my hip socket. By 20 the resulting compensation in my gait had me running with an awkward skip-like stride.  The final six miles were brutal and I was in survival mode.  I gimped over the finish line and immediately my body went limp.  I started stumbling back towards the race course and the medical staff came out and had to assist me. I was a wet noodle in their hands and anything but a bad ass.  So if you are not a certified bad ass, don’t try being a bad ass.  Odds are you will just be an ass.Eric Rutin looks like Fonzie
  10. Being ill-prepared for the course photographer.  When I first started running I had a habit of running with my fingers clenched and thumbs sticking straight up.  I had no idea I was doing it until I saw my race pictures and my friends started calling me Fonzie.  So I started tucking my thumb under my fingers and when I got my pictures I now looked like a constipated race walker that just lost his dog.  Then I developed yet another ill advised strategy – when I saw photographers I would fist pump or purposely give a big thumbs up only to discover I looked like a complete idiot.  It was even worse when I looked like that with a mohawk.  Finally I adopted my current philosophy, no matter what shape I am in, I break into the best possible fundamentally perfect stride and try to look as much like an actual athlete as I can even if I collapse two steps past the photographer.  Even though I stopped buying pictures a long time ago, I still want to look at least pathetic as possible.  You never know if I will become this guy. Eric Rutin looks like this
  11. Trying and cheer a stranger up after they have hit the wall.  In my last marathon I wasn’t in great shape and Jeff was having a miserable race so I stuck with him at a pedestrian pace.  Around mile 20 we came upon a girl that was having an even more miserable race than Jeff.  Because I was taking it easy I had a lot of energy.  Too much energy apparently.  I started talking to the girl oblivious to the obvious.  She clearly was in no mood to chat but missing all the signals I went into pep talk mode which for anyone that has been in that state knows a pep talk is that last thing you want.  Soon after I told her she would finish she just had to believe in her training she broke into tears.  Not a little weeping, but full out bawling including some oddly seal-like bellows.  I awkwardly sped off relieving her of my cheering up.  I now know better.  When someone you don’t know is struggling give them at most a quick “keep at it”.  Anything else you might as well be that horrible spectator that yells “you are almost there” when you pass 23 miles.
  12. Thinking you are faster than a kid.  There was this family that ran a lot of local events. I know they were a family because their shirts, or should I say uniforms, had their family’s name across the shoulder with their first name below.  The worst of this lot was the 12 year old daughter.  I ran into her it seemed at every event.  Not literally in case you are concerned.  Well sadly she had a nasty habit of always finishing just ahead of me.  When checking the results she wouldn’t always have a faster time – sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t – but the point is she was always crossing the finish line ahead of me.  So I did as any middle aged guy would do and I dedicated myself to beating this pre-teen.  Sadly it typically ended up with me chasing her down and her beating me anyhow.  Had she not worn that annoying shirt I would have had no idea but she did, so I did.  Efforts are better spent trying to beat your running buddy in the final meters.
  13. Making a New Year’s resolution to run every day for a year. Unfortunately this is inconvenient and allows for little flexibility. It hasn’t been 3 weeks yet and I have already had to scramble to get my runs in on occasion.   Making such rash decisions leads you to doing like running in argyle socks when you realize you forgot to run and have to sneak a run in to keep the streak alive.  Do something sensible like pledging to lose 20 pounds or save more money or solve world hunger.

Eric Rutin looks stylish

Eric Rutin versus Sigmund Freud

January 11, 2014

topSigmund Freud believed that nothing you do occurs by chance; every action and thought is motivated by your unconscious at some level. Well Dr. Freud meet Eric Rutin.

For those of you that don’t remember Freud’s id, ego and superego theory from your Intro to Psychology class, the id is basically your subconscious which runs free in your dreams, your superego keeps it in check through a variety of of coping, deception and trickery techniques and your ego is your rational self.  Without your superego we would be walking around feeling guilty or shamed by the primal impulses and unchecked urges running through our heads.

Well my superego is slacking.freud

Lately I have been having some unexplained dreams. As like everyone I have had my share of funky dreams.  As a runner I have lead several nocturnal marathons, beating both Kenyans and Ethiopians until I inexplicably am stuck navigating the tourist traffic on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and am somehow lost in a mirror maze. These dreams usually happen as I approach a marathon and can easily be dismissed as anxiety about the upcoming 26.2.  I used to have similar dreams back in my golfing days needing a par on the last hole to break par when my swing was restricted due to errant shot landing in a closet.  Regardless, my superego was doing its job as my ego was able to adequately processes the absurdity and rational behind such dreams.

BUT…

Recently I am pretty sure my superego decided to go to the Turks and Caicos to escape the Polar Vortex as I simply can not explain what is happening to me after I go to sleep.

Dream One

Eric Rutins Dream oneI am at work and need to go to another department a several floors above me.  So I head to the elevator with a co-worker.  A couple of things already wrong.  First my office is contained to one floor and secondly I have now idea who this coworker is.  Well we get into the elevator and all is fine.  On the second floor the door opens and some people get in.  Same thing on the third floor and forth floor.  By the time the door opens on the fifth floor the elevator is pretty crowded but five or six people wiggle their way into the elevator and now it is crammed.  Too crammed and my claustrophobia takes hold and I panic.  I panic so badly that I wake up and am breathing rapidly and completely stressed out unable to go back to sleep.  What exactly kind of dream is this?  I have had the crazed man chasing me or being in war dreams that caused a similar reaction when facing cetain death, but riding a crowded elevator?  This doesn’t count as a nightmare does it?  I mean if you are going to have a claustrophobic nightmare you had better be getting buried alive by a psychopath not crammed in an elevator with a bunch of people dressed in Brooks Brothers carrying folders and binders.

Dream Two

All of a sudden with no warning I am a running back in a goal line drive with the Oakland Raiders.  Terrell Pryor hands the ball to me as I am supposed to dive into the end zone off left tackle.  I should be feeling mighty good.

BUT…

First of all I am not dressed in my football duds, rather red plaid pajamas and secondly as I get the ball I refuse to take one hand out from between my legs and I try running without abandoning the fetal position.  Needless to say, I am mercilessly tackled.  So what do the Raiders do?  They call the same play.  This time I realize I have a better chance of running if I remove my hand from between my legs and as I do, I slip by the approaching linebacker and sneak into the end zone.Eric Rutin does NOT like the Raiders

Now I guess I should feel good that I have scored a touchdown.  There are very few of us that have actually scored a touchdown in the NFL and I am part of a pretty select crowd now.  Yet, somehow I am just left confounded.  Why the Raiders, a team I have no affinity for in the least bit?  What do the pajamas mean? And as a marathon runner and someone that is basically athletic, why am I trying to run in the fetal position?

So Dr. Freud you claim every bit of one’s subconscious is relevant; I challenge you or any of your disciples to explain what is going on in my noggin. My superego is clearly derelict in its duties of managing my id leaving my ego with no explanation as to what the symbolic significance to these dreams is.

Anyone?  Anyone?

Rutin...Eric Rutin

Eric Rutin has New Year’s Resolutions?

January 3, 2014

Eric Rutin LOVES Calvin and HobbesWow, it is actually 2014.  I know most talented bloggers probably already shared their resolutions by now, but I wanted to wait to make sure mine were right.  I created a long list of personal, professional and running goals versus resolutions for 2014.  I think by having clearly defined goal provides a more realistic path for success than the typical resolution that is typically forgotten by Groundhog Day.

In the past I have made a variety of resolutions, most which I think I forgot within a fortnight.  Only three have lasted.  I gave up red meat in 1992.  In 2006 I resolved to eat read meat.  However this is only if I am served it at someone’s house to be a gracious guest.  I was tired of being asked at every BBQ by the host if they really needed to buy one special chicken breast just for me when everyone else was having filet mignon. (That being said, I would appreciate that chicken breast still) I vowed to drink more red wine sometime in the mid-2000″2 as well, which I was technically able to achieve by drinking one glass since I previously never drank any.  I usually down around three glasses of the red stuff each year.  I never said I set the bar very high.   I never actual wrote my resolutions down and certainly never developed an actual plan for success.  Rather I would white knuckle it until I could forget what I was trying to do.  Like I said, typically a less than a fortnight effort.  This year is different.  They are written down and I am working on a formal plan for each.

I am not going to share the personal and professional goals, but I do have a few running goals that I am allowing everyone to hold me accountable to accomplish.

1. Run every day in 2014.  I considered running 2,014 miles but realized I was nowhere near in shape enough to average the 38.73 miles per week needed to achieve this milestone.  So my slothful 2013 attitude has me committed to running 364 days this year despite rain and snow and even sleet.  Of course since I live in Arizona the 110 degree summer is probably the more likely troublesome weather.  So even if it is unbearably hot or the day after a marathon or I am incredibly busy or even if I fear traveling more than 15 feet from the bathroom, I am still going to run – every day.  2013 was not kind to my running with injuries, apathy and the impact of the Boston Marathon Bombings taking a toll on my consistency.  But it is 2014 and that is all in the rear view mirror.Eric Rutin runs the Reykjavik Marathon

2. Run a marathon. Yea I have run nine already but I haven’t run one since PF Changs two years ago.  It is time.  Right now I am thinking the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland.  This is in late August so that means I will be knocking out 20 milers in the heat of the summer.  Joy, joy, joy.

3. Break 23 minutes in a 5K.  It isn’t close to my PR, but a hell of a lot faster than I have been running them.

4. Run my age in a 10K.  I will be using old Boston timing guidelines for this so I get the full 59 seconds on the 46 or 47 minutes.  47:08 is my PR, so this is going to be a tough goal to accomplish.  But that is why I am doing goals and not resolutions.

5. Volunteer at 5 events.  I called out splits at the Phoenix 10K and  handed out the race t-shirts at the Desert Classic last month.  It was fun sharing with the runners’ excitement.  It is also a way of giving back to this sport that has given me so much.  Plus I get $5 in Arizona Road Runner bucks each time I volunteer.

Eric Rutin old Supernova Classics6. Find a shoe I like.  I have been searching and searching since adidas stopped making Supernova Classics in 2011. I have found shoes that sucked and shoes that I didn’t mind, but I haven’t found a shoe I love and committed to. (I just got a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires today – fingers crossed)  I ran in Supernova classics for 9 years as my primary shoe.  LOVED them.  Miss them.  But is there really only one true love for each of us?

7. Blog at least once a week.  I am not sure if this is welcome news for everyone or not, but it is on my list so I have to attempt it.

That is it.  I think some are tall orders, but good goals regardless to keep me motivated and focused.  I am glad that 2013 is over, there was just too many negative events that I personally experienced or affected people I knew.  Some pesky and some downright tragic.

I know I said I wasn’t going to, but I am going to share one of my personal goals anyhow.  I am going to teach my incredibly neurotic dog, Molly, how to catch a Frisbee.  She is an Australian Shepherd mix and is supposed to be innately predisposed to catch them, but instead just the sight of a Frisbee sends her hiding.

There you have it.  Lets check back in 362 days and see how I did.

Eric Rutin will toss the frisbee

Running reduces the risk of breast cancer

December 12, 2013

Eric Rutin supports Rave for the CureThose who know me know I am a fanatic about running for a myriad of reasons.  Talk to me for 10 minutes and I guarantee running will somehow come up in the conversation.  If you are a runner, I will talk all night long if you don’t abandon me which, despite my wonderful personality, actually happens.  Some of you may also know that my mom died from breast cancer over 15 years ago.  This has been why I have always been a huge supporter of the Race for the Cure; it allows me to combine two passions that are part of my core.  Though I must admit I wish that I, nor I imagine anyone else for that matter, never had to even concern myself with breast cancer.  It would be a much better planet if the cure was simply discovered and breast cancer was eradicated.  But until then it is about education and preventive behavior to help at least reduce the risks.

That very notion brings me to the point of today’s blog.  While checking out my timeline on Facebook  I saw a post from Runner’s World sharing an article on how running has been linked to reducing the risk for women getting breast cancer.  41% less of a chance to be be exact.  The amazing thing is it doesn’t even take that much effort to reap these benefits, just under 5 miles a week.  This is not the kind of commitment that requires a woman to drastically adjust her lifestyle to accommodate ultra marathon training training milage or anything.

Eric Rutin is a stick figureI know most of you that read my blog are runners already and 5 miles of weekly running can be knocked on Monday morning before heading to work.  If that is the case, on Tuesday you will be reducing your risk of heart disease, Wednesday you will be lowering your blood pressure, Thursday you will adding around 3 years to your life, Friday will put you in a better mood (a recent study showed that running can have comparable results to antidepressants), Saturday you will be preventing  losing your mind. literally (exercise reduces age-related mental decline) and on Sunday you will be letting youself splurge on cheese sticks and wings as you watch football (preferably the Lions or Steelers).  If you look at it collectively, that is a pretty solid week of accomplishment.

Since most of you are already runners, let us look at this as an opportunity to encourage those around us to run as well.  My daughter Emma (her middle name is Jane after my mom) did her first Race for the Cure when she was still in her mom’s womb.  Her next in a Baby Bjorn, then baby jogger, then walking before eventually running on her own.  She was an excellent runner through 5th grade when the brilliance of Arizona cross country with their August through October season and afternoon meets in 108 degrees soured her on the joy of running and instead converted running to a slow-roasted toaster torture for her.  I have been trying to get her off the couch and away from Netflix ever since without much success.  In PE she is always one of the top milers, she has to do running as ocnditioning for badminton and softball, but running for the joy of running has long since went dormant in her being.   So I was excited when she texted me a picture of some cute Nikes she wanted to start running again.  While I am probably not going to run to Runner’s Den or iRun and buy the $135 pair she wants before she demonstrates her commitment to running at least a couple of times a week, I am going to get her a cool pair to get going and encouraging her to knock out at least 4.75 miles a week.  I have even offered to run with her on Saturday morning though oddly she doesn’t seem as keen on the idea as me.   In addition to a  fierce independent spirit, I want the only similarity that Emma ever shares with her grandmother to be her name.Eric Rutin daughter Emma

So during this holiday season I encourage everyone to look around and see which of your loved ones you can get out the door and run a little.  Lets take it upon each of us to help reduce breast cancer (and many other health issues) in any way we can and to make our loved ones healthier.  Besides, runners are just cooler people.

Eric Rutin reflects on his Turkey Trot

November 13, 2013

First let me say, I have never been a gazelle but also I wouldn’t say I was a sloth either.  When I was in good shape I would say I was akin to a Australian shepherd, not going to win any speed records, but capable of a decent energetic pace.  Lately as I am working myself back into  shape I would say if you looked up Eric Rutin in the dictionary you would most likely see a picture of a basset hound.  More specifically probably a 14 year old basset hound.

running-Santa-cartoonIt was with this acceptance of my new canine classification that I lined up yesterday for one of my favorite races, the annual ARR Thanksgiving Day Classic.  This is a great race because it is a 10 mile race that after completing I could eat as much as I wanted with no regards.  Well yesterday I ran in the other race, the 5K, a race in my previous running snobbery days always considered good for grandmas and toddlers. In fact I didn’t just run in this race yesterday, I also lined up about halfway back in the corral with the rest of the causal runners.  This was an entirely new perspective for me.  To my left was an elderly gentleman that looked as if he needed to get to the mall for his shift as Santa.  However this Santa’s long white hair was pulled back in  pigtails and was doused in petrulli oil.  Behind me was a dad and his 10 year-old kid that was telling everyone he hoped to run the race in 45 hours.  Once was kinda cute but eleven or so times was just annoying.  Hummm, am I the Grinch?  Then to my right was an Indian family.  No I am not being politically incorrect and not using Native American, I am actually talking about a family from the India that Columbus was basically looking for on his misadventure. The mom and two kids looked ready to go in the CoolMax running gear, but the dad was in jeans and a polo shirt.  And lastly in front of me was a woman that was running her first race since having her shin replaced with a metal rod.   I have fallen so far out of shape that I was competing against middle age men in jeans and Santa Claus.

When the race started I had to walk for a minute before getting to the actual starting line to start running, a term a I use rather loosely in this case.  In the past in self delusion I would position myself as far forward as possible in a starting corral and would take off flying.  Now I had people that were walking from the get go that I had to negotiate around and in the spirit of the holidays, they were usually an extended family walking side by side making my task as difficult as possible.  I felt like  I was playing human Frogger.

The course is a simple out and back, nothing fancy.  The mind was willing but the legs were not.  I tried switching into that racing gear but I seemed to have left that somewhere in 2011.

Even once I was able to run consistently the course was narrow and packed with people.  I was in desperate need to launch a snot rocket but it was so crowded that it was impossible without a serious breach of social graces.  So off I ran unable to breath out of my nose.  I was being passed by people that I told myself were running the Galloway method as they would sprint by me then walk a while with their hands atop their heads trying to regain their breath.  Then they would zip by me again only to stop again a 100 yards later.  I passed a lady that was prepared  for the grizzling 3.1 miles with her fuel belt loaded with two water bottles and three gels.  By the time I clocked a mile I was regretting eating a hearty bowl of oatmeal earlier as visions of my Yoshi run started creeping into my mind. 12770613722xmPHnS

As I was approaching the turnaround point I discovered that my old basset hound assessment was probably accurate as I saw a woman with her antler-clad Pomeranian already on her way back.  I was clearly not faster than  dog with 3 inch legs.  However I was faster than Santa as I was finally able to shake him at the turn around.  On my way back I was passed by a guy pushing a baby jogger, one of the ultimate humiliations just behind losing to the costumed folks (I wont’t even bring up the indignation of losing to a costumed Pomeranian).  The kid in the jogger looked at me and said “bye bye” as they passed me, just in case the embarrassment wasn’t quite enough already. I was being trash talked to by a frickin 3 year-old.   But my ego wasn’t damaged enough yet because the next one to pass me was the kid with  his 45 hour 5K pace.  Had Mr. Blue Jeans passed me I was prepared to officially retire right then and there.

I finally finished unceremoniously at 26.55, neither tired nor spent, no matter how hard I tried, I never was able to shift it to that higher gear.  The time certainly wasn’t my worse.  Ironically the first race I ever ran was a  Turkey Trot in Marina Del Rey back in 1992.  I ran it after I graduated from college and put on 35 pounds. I was trying to get back into shape, of course my other exercise was a rowing machine with a pitcher of vodka tonics for hydration..  I think initial race took  around 45 minutes for me to finish and I didn’t lose a pound.  Fortunately that was pre-Internet so there is no record of this event that I am aware exists.  I wasn’t disappointed with my race yesterday, rather decided I needed some new realistic short term running goals:  my next race I will try and crack top five in the under 10 division and not lose to any dogs classified as toys or terriers.

But I got my ass out of bed and at least ran so how disappointed can I really be?  This allowed me to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner guilt free, though I did gain 4 pounds yesterday.  No problem, I will just throw on a pair of jeans and go for a run.

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Eric Rutin Takes on the WSJ

November 15, 2013

So runners seem to be up in arms about a recent article written in the Wall Street Journal by Chad Stafko.  Having read it I have to say I really don’t understand his stance.  I am not sure who Chad Stafko is, but he seems to be someone that is simply annoyed at healthy people or people trying to better themselves.  His logic is along the lines of being annoyed that someone with high cholesterol decided to skip the Slim Jims or Roald Amundsen dared to trek to the South Pole (and the North Pole for what it is worth).  While we are at it, that Jonas Salk was a no-good show-off sharing his polio vaccination with everyone.  Couldn’t he have the common decency to simply be modest and keep his accomplishments to himself?

Eric Ruitn circa 1987

Eric Rutin circa 1987

Before I proceed, I have to say that I am acutely aware that making such claims are akin to Howard Stern shock jock tactics in just saying outrageously outlandish things to evoke reaction without any actual conviction or believe in what you spew.

But since Mr. Stafko decided to voice his opinion on the matter than runners need to get over it, revert to a sedentary state and I am a sucker for a good argument here we go.

I am sure there are runners out there that are in it for the social acknowledgement, but lets break that down just a little before we condemn these superficial folks.   To slap on a 26.2 sticker on your bumper, even if you are just showing off, you still have to train for several months and then run 26.2 frickin’ miles.  I don’t care how superficial you are, that is not a fun or easy experience.  The commitment to a 16-26 week training program that drags your ass out of bed at stupid hours of the morning, regardless of how cold or hot it is outside (and it is always one or the other at some point in your training) isn’t for the meek.  While all your friends are heading out for a late dinner and drinks on a Friday night, you bid them adieu and head to bed by 8:30, knowing you will be pounding pavement in a couple of hours.  Running for three plus hours on a Saturday morning covered in sweat, grime and God only knows what other bodily fluid is not quite as pleasant at sitting in a Starbucks with your Mac penning animosity. Then when it comes to race day, everyone, and I mean everyone comes to that point when every bit of their rational self tells them they can not venture one single step farther, yet somehow, someway their internal will propels the left foot in front of the right one only to repeat again and again and again.  He seemingly boasts why run 10 miles when you have a perfectly good car to drive it as if it is as crazy as bathing in beef bullion and challenging a pack of rabid wolves to a wrestling match.  How about not wanting to be a fat ass with high blood pressure and 350 cholesterol?  So, if someone wants a little superficial acknowledgement, so be it. They ran 26.2 frickin miles afterall.  They have done something that .5% of the US population has accomplished.

Now lets chat a little more about just want to be seen running around.  Well as I previously mentioned, typically I am out the door before anyone wakes up.  Training in the summer here in the comfortable Arizona summer when the lows are often in the mid 90s, I often run 20 miles in the dark, am showered and back in bed before the kids even wake up much less the neighbors.  The only other people I see are fellow runners, so I am really not getting all that much attention.  Then lets think more about wanting to be seen?  My Running with Rage pals have all had incidents involving pee, poop, vomit and pretty much every other human disgustingness you can imagine.  Not really show off moments.   Lastly my favorite long run is from Central Phoenix down to South Mountain along Central.  The reason I like this so much, it is a nice, long, lonely run where it is just me and my run.  I rarely even listen to music on these runs as I don’t want to be disturbed by the outside world.

Eric Rutin Pittsburgh Marathon

Finishing Pittsburgh

Do runners like to talk about running?  Hell yes we do.  Just like golfers like to talk about golf.  Just like cancer researchers like talking about proton therapy.  Just like Republicans like to talk about the Second Amendment (the First they can take it or leave it).  Just like writers like to talk about  about literature and being published.  People like to discuss their passion.  Typically runners like to talk to other runners about running.  I was recently at the Inc. 5000 Conference and on the opening night I attended the kick-off party. I didn’t really know anyone, but I met this cool woman, Jennifer, that was also runner.  She has run races around the world.  We compared experiences and had an instant bond that made it then easier to also discuss our respective businesses.  I believe the term they use is rapport. It is a social skill.  I then met the president of Inc. Bob LaPointe, a famous motorcycle enthusiast, and you know what we talked about?  Not running.  I recalled my memories of riding my motorcycle along the foothills of the Catalinas in Tucson at sunset.  There really isn’t anything wrong with talking about your passions and being proud of your accomplishments.  I am sure even Chad might have mentioned being published in WSJ with a little sense of pride once or twice.

But the biggest reason runners are the coolest people on the planet is running is all about community.  Sure we run alone, but we belong to a bigger group.  We are a group that, despite all of our diversities, are united by our commitment to this most primal activity. There are worse people out there than a group who can set audacious goals whether it be running a 5K when you get winded walking to the mailbox or signing up for a marathon or even longer distance race.  And then accomplish them!  The famous Mount Everest explorer Sir Edmund Hillary once said, “People do not decide to become extraordinary, they decide to accomplish extraordinary things”.  That is how runners view each it.  I used to golf and there was a competition between golfers usually leading them to exaggerate their abilities and accomplishments.  I can’t count the number of single digit handicappers I have known that were incapable of breaking 80.  Runners are different. We don’t compete against each other.  Surely we try and beat each other in a race, and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoy that, while Jeff has me beat on every other distance, I hold the marathon PR over him.  But when it comes down to it, I am cheering him on to be his absolute best and he does the same for me.  When one of us is down, the other picks him up.  Runners enjoy each others accomplishments almost as much as we enjoy our own.

I remember being at Scotty’s wedding, standing in the kitchen talking with him and Shelly, my counterpart in the wedding party.  Scotty is rather fast and I was a little faster than Shelly but the interesting thing was, as we shared our experiences, I realized despite our different times arriving at the finish line, they were all basically the same.  This was reinforced later when after the Detroit Marathon Jeff, Scotty and I were eating our post run meal, talking about the day’s race.  I mentioned that it took every bit of my will power to run past the 13.1 turn-off and to continue on with the marathon (in a big part due to Jeff running with me step for step, encouraging me despite not having the best race to that point).  I was amazed when Scotty then said there wasn’t a marathon he has run that he didn’t have the same exact thought at some point.  This was a guy that just ran a 2:35 marathon and came in 11th place overall!  Jeff and I also ended up with a PR that day.  While I was struggling in the mid miles, I was able to return the favor when Jeff had his own struggles later.

Whenever I talk to Scotty I am always reminded how great and inclusive the running community is.  He runs at a whole other level than anyone else I know (other than Mark Cosmos that runs 10o miles races, but that is another story) and has every right to feel elite  yet he is impressed by everyone else.  He has told me he thinks the accomplishment of the 5 hour marathoner is more impressive than his.  This is a guy that runs sub 6:00 miles for a marathon.  He said if he had to run for that long of a time period, he couldn’t do it.  This wasn’t said in a arrogant manner, but rather genuine admiration that someone is so dedicated to their goal, they are going to accomplish it no matter how long it takes.  When I see someone that is obese running at a pace that most would consider walking, I think how frickin awesome it is they they are out there trying to make themselves better.  This is a point that our dear old Mr. Stafko just can’t comprehend. It is easier to shun or mock people for doing things we can’t or won’t than to truly admire them.  To a runner, any person that is willing to lace up the shoes and head out the door is to be applauded, regardless of any results after that.

Boston Eric Rutin

Eric Rutin 24 hours before at Bomb #1 site

Lastly, the running community is all about supporting the spirit and will of the human race.  This extends  beyond just the actual runners, Chad Stafko excluded.  As I mentioned, it doesn’t matter if you are an obese person running 100 yards, or Wilson Kipsing setting the marathon world record in Berlin or a mid-pack running like most of my peers.  Go to any race and you will see people of every ability lining up at the race, but you also see hundreds eor ven thousands of volunteers working at a race, giving there own personal time.  Then look on the streets and you see people cheering on complete strangers, encouraging them through their struggles as if there were BFFs, passing out gummy bears at mile 18 in Indian Village.  Everyone, runners, volunteers and supporters are unified in their appreciation of effort.  That is all anyone in the running community ever asks.  Give effort, and you are rewarded.  That is why the events at Boston earlier this year messed with me so much.  Of course I had my issues with being so close to the bombs and the what ifs that I couldn’t quiet in my head, but what traumatized me the most was how the Tsarnaev brothers attacked an event that celebrated  greatness in humankind.  Thousand and thousands of people with no agenda other than striving and cheering for greatness we assaulted.  Runners had trained for years to compete in the most prestigious contest of human endurance.  While I can not say I understand the motive behind such acts, I can attest for the effectiveness of terrorism in doing as the name suggests creating a constant state of terror and unsettledness in a community.  What I can not understand is the choice of targets, attacking churches, schools, and even The Boston Marathon, outside if the Olympics, they greatest testament to human will and perseverance.  They attempted to erode the will of the community and yet all they did was strengthen it, in a large part due to the will to overcome adversity of the running community.

It just seemed counter-intuitive.  Just like Chad Stafko’s article.

The history of concerts according to Eric Rutin

November 10, 2013

This is a list of concerts that I, Eric Rutin, attended in my life.  I will admit, that I have not been to a concert in ages and at this point in my advanced life I really don’t see attending another unless its with my kids as parental supervision.  That being said, Cade is already older than me when my parents dropped me off at the gate of Pine Knob to see my first solo concert.  More about that in a moment.  I am sure I don’t remember all the concerts, some due to their absolute horribleness, others due to alcohol consumption and others just to a fading memory.  I encourage any of my friends reading this to add any that I may have missed.   Some of the concerts were life changing and others I am pretty embarrassed to admit I went to but all in all there is a wide array of musicians and genres.  I have debated different ways of arranging from chronological, to quality to frequency but I couldn’t come up with a clear winner.  I will present in a loosely chronological manner with a sprinkle of randomness tossed in.  (sorry about the dangling preposition)

Electric Light Orchestra  (ELO)

This was my first concert I attended. It was at the Pontiac Silverdome and I went with my friend Eric.  So It was Eric Rutin and Eric Somethingoranother.  It was 5th grade and we LOVED this band.  We called them Eric’s Lovable Orchestra, pretty clever for 11 year-olds. We even had t-shirts made. All I really remember was the band had a huge spaceship that opened up and out they came.  Totally Spinal Tap style.  But the bigger memory was the priest sitting behind us in full priest attire.  He opened his bible and inside it was cut-out for his pipe and stash.  Deception would later come into play for myself.

The Guess Who

I saw them on family weekend when we went to visit my brother at Michigan Tech.  I actually attended this with my parents.  It was on the floor of some arena.  I remember them playing These Eyes, I was wearing a Mork from Ork ski vest and that I feel asleep.  This also would come into play later.

The Beach Boys

This was my first venture to Pine Knob, the greatest musical venue ever.  It has some corporate name now, but I was fortunate to grow up in the 70s and 80s before everything was so blatantly corporate.  I blame the Rolling Stones for changing all that with their 1981 “final tour”, but that is neither here nor there.  I am not sure who I attended this with but it was some sort of friend and parent supervision.  We were allowed the freedom to roam  and the Beach Boys were still pretty hip. This was sixth grade.

Joe Walsh

I was now a 7th grade and obviously ready for my independence.  I went with some friend I don’t recall.  (I actually have a pretty crappy memory of pre-1981)  I look back in horror that, not only were my parents completely comfortable dropping me off at a concert at 12 years old, but a frickin’ Joe Walsh concert none the less whose fame was built on glorifying sex, drugs and rock and roll.  But my parents were not as hip as I am.  They had no idea who Joe Walsh was.  I am a cool dad that belts out Icona Pop effortlessly while my parents listened to talk radio or Nat King Cole.  Regardless, all I really remember was the joy of independence and being around all the drunk and stoned people, though I myself was a goody two-shoe.  This is how I kicked off the summer of 1980.  I remember my friend wanted to go see the Doobie Brothers but I was too afraid to say Doobie in front of my parents, so that was my only concert that year.

The Who/The Clash/Eddie Money

This was the first final farewell tour for The Who way back in 1982.  I was a boarder at Cranbrook by now and I was finding out how important music was to an adolescent. I listen to lyrics, they spoke to me personally, they gave me the voice to say what I was unable.  I listened to Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, The Police, Buzzcocks, and other early 80s punk, but the two big influences were The Kinks and The Clash.   Ray Davies was simply a brilliant song writer and The Clash touched my inner teenage angst like no other.  The Who announced their final tour that was on a Thursday night, a particular dilemma for a boarding student.  The year before Cranbrook didn’t allow boarders to attend the final Rolling Stones tour and had a backlash of parent anger.  So the doors were wide open with a parent’s permission slip for me to attend the The Who.  I liked the Who plenty, but it was The Clash I absolutely had to see.  I went with John Packer who’s dad owner a Pontiac dealership as well as a box at the Pontiac Silverdome and my freshman RA, John Berger.  We hung out in the box enjoying libations and being tormented by Eddie Money.  Then came time for The Clash.  John and I slipped past the security guards that were preoccupied pummeling other people hopping the wall to notice us casually walk down the steps to the general admission floor level.  Somehow I randomly connected with Scotty Lebo who was attending with some of his other friends.  Scotty is the only other person I know that likes The Clash as much as I do, so I was happy I was going to experience the greatest concert ever with him.  We made our way through the packed crowd to about 15 feet from the stage, so close the fire hose they were using to cool the crowd hit us with an uncomfortable velocity.  This was incredible.  They opened up with London Calling and my famous or infamous infant bladder came knocking.  I was not about to leave my precious spot for a mere bathroom crisis. I pulled out and peed right there on the floor or more aptly on the leg of this big biker guy standing in front of me.  Fortunately the fire hose already had him wet so he didn’t notice a little more wetness and besides I figured he deserved it for preventing me from being 13 feet from the stage.  When they started playing Should I Stay Or Should I Go (not my favorite by a long shot) when the crowd started chanting GO..GO…GO.  WTF?  So Mick Jones in a haste, flipped off the crowd, unplugged his guitar and walked off the stage.  Show over.  For The Who, despite being a pretty big fan of them, we retreated back to some empty seats and as they played in what was at the time record decibel levels, I proceeded to fall asleep.  Must be something about bands called the Who that causes narcolepsy in me.3340293178_417fb37f35

I cant really tell you what my next concert was so I will get random for a while taking a trip through the rest of high school and college.

Santana

This was where I applied the knowledge I learned from my first concert experience.  Yet another concert at Pine Knob. We sprung the extra couple of bucks for the $18 seats versus the $12 lawn seats. I filled a two-liter bottle with 7-up and Seagrams borrowed from my parents full bar and tossed in in my backpack along with some powdered sugar donuts, a couple of ding dongs and other delicious goodies.  Pretty much the essential concert eats. When we went through security we watched as booze bottle after booze bottle was confiscated. When the burly guy got to me, he opened up my backpack and pulled out a bag of donuts, and saw the scattering of other junk food and laughed. He handed me back my backpack and said “knock yourself out kid”.  We then enjoyed 7 and 7′s while listening to Oye Como Va.  I think this stratagem was originally executed in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

The Grateful Dead

I always thought that being a self-proclaimed teenage rebel (disregard my upper-middle class upbringing and the fact I attended boarding school) and that I should like The Grateful Dead.  It was kinda like Jack Kerouac.  But truth be told, I didn’t like them at all, but Liz, my first girlfriend, liked them and I liked everything she liked so she would like me. Normal teenage rational.  I went with Liz and I think her friend Norah, but it could have been someone else or even two someone elses.  Well without going into too many details, the security showed Liz and I the exit for doing what I considered perfectly appropriate Grateful Dead behavior (no, not drugs).  So Liz and I had to sit outside the gate and wait for the concert to end to collect the third wheel that I think was Norah but maybe wasn’t.  Maybe the fourth wheel too.  This just confirmed that I simply didn’t, nor do, like The Grateful Dead.  Nor do I like endless riffs.  I wish I had saved the $15 I spent on my ticket.  While I still can’t say I like Kerouac, I can at least say I appreciate him.  Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is far better than On the Road for what it is worth.  Oh wait, I digress.

The Monkey’s Reunion

Back to music.  I went with Andy Wildermuth who looked a lot like Peter Tork and a couple of other Fac brats.  Yes I went to a Monkeys concert. Deal with it.

pine knobSimple Minds and The Pretenders

The best concert ever, but not for the music, which wasn’t bad, but for the experience.  I went with most of the Fac Brats, Rose Domas, Margie Goldman and Beth Grossman.  Before the concert we hung out at my house getting properly liquidly enthused.  As we were driving to Pine Knob (surprise) Christopher started one of his legendary rants claiming if he had to get a girl pregnant in high school and have to marry her, he would want that girl to be Helaine Scholnik.  Disregard that Helaine had been spending the summer skillfully avoiding him.  It wasn’t just a random comment, he kept repeating it and adding more  and more detail, more sure each time.  But one thing for sure, Helaine was the one.  We got to the concert and found a place on the lawn to spread our blankets and enjoyed the music.  The sun had set and Simple Minds had concluded.  The guys got up and went to pee on the perimeter fence (an advantage to being a guy) still listening to Christopher’s love rant.  Upon concluding our pee, we bumped into some girls.  Christopher hit it off with one of the girls remarkably fast and before we knew it, was making out with her.  She came back to our blankets and the two of them obliviously mauled each other for the entire Pretenders set.  If this was the Grateful Dead they would have been tossed.  The music ended and Christopher took down the girl’s phone number before she left to reunite with her friends.  We all walked off in awe.  But we had no idea what awe actually was until Christopher, without missing a beat, resumed professing his love for a hypothetically knocked-up Helaine.

The Clash

This time there was no The Who, no Eddie Money, no John Parker no burly biker to pee on, just Scotty, Ned, Tony and me (and of course maybe others I don’t remember) and the intimate Fox Theater.  Someone may have opened for them, but who cares, I don’t remember, I was there to see The Clash finally.  It was the best concert of my life.  It was raw. It was loud. It was hard. It was The Clash.  No pissed off Mick Jones.  There were also no side stories or antics, just a couple of guys getting to see The Only Band That Matters.

Simon and Garfunkle

This was their reunion tour and a trip back to The Silverdome.  Scotty and I went with Margie Goldman and Beth Grossman.  It was a pretty good show and  little historic.  Kinda like Kerouac for me.  Didn’t love it, but appreciated it. Afterwards we went and got Marty’s Cookies.  Yum.

urlINXS

I am sure I went with some of my friends, but I just remember going with Chrissie Mathias. The significance of this was I was on a date with the one and only babysitter I ever had. Maybe it would have been more appropriate going to the Simon and Garfunkle concert with her.  Coo Coo Ca Choo.  As Mrs. Robinson as this sounds, Chrissie was only two years older than me.  She was the girl that lived down street that I had my first middle school crush on that also worked at my dad’s pharmacy.  For some horrifically inexplicable reason my mom decided that at 13 I needed a babysitter one night and they picked 15 year-old Chrissie for no other reason that I can imagine other than to permanently scar me with unrepairable embarrassment.  My parents that believed in teaching their kids independence had been leaving me at home alone for years and yet this night they had to get me not just a baby sitter but Chrissie.  Well five years later I was actually on a date with my babysitter.  It was cool and without a cent of therapy, I someone recovered some of my shattered esteem.  Oh yea, it was Pine Knob.

Bruce Springsteen

This was my first high priced concert.  It was the Born in the USA tour and Rose got four tickets.  I forget who the other two tickets were for but they bailed so we decided to scalp the tickets.  I think we got a hundred bucks for them (huge money in 1985).  The concert was his return to Detroit on a world tour right before our senior year.  The seats were directly stage right and we had as good of a view of the roadies behind the stage as we did of the band.  While it was nice that Rose sold the tickets at a little profit, she sadly sold them to a guy that turned out to have a 350 pound friend that sat next to me.  Well, he more sat on me. He oozed over the arm rest and I had to wait for him to stand before I was able to.  (there I go with the dangling preposition again)  While most people found Springsteen’s endurance, providing a 3 plus hour concert, amazing, I was praying for the show to end as I was tired of being sweated on by the large mammal next to me.  But I discovered Bruce will do an encore even if only one person in the back row requests it.  No Cortney Cox dance along either.

U2

This was down in Tucson at the Convention Center.  I went with Jill, Dan, Liz, Erich, Michelle and Michele.  I am still to this day 25 years later reminded that we didn’t bring Mark along.  The concert was filmed and Bono acted like a cowboy.  That is all I remember other than I liked it and we went to Red Robin before.  I had a Red Robin Monster Burger.

The Specials

The Specials played on the mall on a makeshift stage at U of A’s Spring Fling festival.  It was officially a concert but I think I was the only person that was actually standing still listening to them and not simply passing by on their way to something else.  It was a good night for me despite going alone.  I also met Christine Applegate during her Married with Children glory days.  Oh yea, it was free.

Jimmy Buffet

I will lump the four shows together.  1st show was college. We drove up in Erich’s 1972 Monte Carlo to Phoenix.  He got a speeding ticket in Casa Grande on the way back to Tucson.  Second show was at the Hollywood Bowl that I went to with Michele.  Then two shows at Desert Sky Pavilion.  I used to be a Parrot Head and they were all equally awesome.  I am not a Parrot Head any more.

LA Guns and Megadeth

Our buddy Andy Alkire was a bouncer at Tucson Garden, a rock bar in Tucson.  They needed extra security for the show, so of course they asked all 140 pounds of me to protect the stage.  Along with the half a dozen other ill-equipped security we locked arms stood in front of the stage, speakers prematurely reducing my hearing capabilities, and leaned forward holding back the pressing crowd.  The music was awful but I was paid $50 bucks and given free drinks afterwards.

Exposé

Yes I saw them.  Jill took me. I tried talking my way to get back stage to meet them.  Not my proudest moment.  At least they were better looking than The Monkeys.expose-2008

The Guess Who and BTO

Back at the Tucson Garden but this time paying I went to this with Tucker Wildermuth and Dan.  Not sure what Tucker was doing in Tucson. There were only about 50 people there so getting close to the stage was not an issue. For two hours there was no bigger fan of either band than myself.  I was given the set lists from each band and the pick from the lead guitarist for The Guess Who.  I also was able to break the cycle and I stayed awake for the whole concert.

Lilith Fair

I admit I am pretty much a lesbian when it comes to much of my musical tastes.  I enjoyed Sarah McLachlin, Jewel, Indigo Girls (not really), Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Fiona Apple and Natalie Merchant.  I was also one of I think three guys attending.

Depeche Mode

I went with some people from work.  I don’t hate them, but I can’t say I like them.  Not even sure I appreciate them really. What I like most about them was how my next door neighbors my freshman year had convinced this annoying kid you pronounced it Depashay Mowday.  I made the mistake of wearing a red polo shirt to the concert. They were work tickets given to us by a radio station so of course they were good.  I was more of an unicorn at this concert than at the Lilith Fair not wearing all black and sans eyeliner.  I was standing as everyone else was, but anyone who knows me, I don’t dance, and certainly not in a crowd with out signed waivers by anyone near me.  Half way through the show this goth girl grabbed my arm and asked “excuse me sir, are you OK?”  I assured her I was. I didn’t tell her I would be better when the show was over.  Thank God they didn’t subscribe to the Bruce Springsteen school of encore etiquette.

The Dixie Chicks

Michele was pregnant with Emma and we were invited to the box of local country station, KNIX.  Emma loved them and spent the entire show rocking out in the womb.

Dave Matthews Band

I went to this concert with Carolyn.  We were way late and couldn’t find parking.  We were frantically looking for a spot and ended up parking quite far but still close enough we could hear the music.  As we were making the long walk to the gate listening to them play Crush.  Well this is when I learned that Dave Matthews likes his riffs.  A lot. It took us at least 15 minutes to get there and they were still playing Crush. We got though the gate, past security and found our seats and they were still playing Crush. In fact, I think they are still playing it.

Spin Doctors

This was the last concert I saw.  They were playing in Chrystal City after the Marine Corps Marathon.  I was looking for my usual post race tuna sub at Subway.  I have no idea, why I need to have that overly mayonnaise saturated tuna delight when I finished a marathon, but I do. I never eat them any other time, but damn I want them after 26.2 miles.  Oh yea, Spin Doctors.  Well when I got down to the “strip” in Chrystal City looking for my sandwich I discovered the concert.  Well it was was called a concert at least. It was about 7 people standing on the street listening to Two Princes.  I made 8.

There it is. I am sure I forgot some concerts.  Confused some people that attended.  But regardless, this is the best I remember.  If you made it through all of this just remember, The Clash is the only band that matters.

Other good reading

Top 25  Best Movies of All Time

15 Must Songs For Any Running Playlist

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