Reluctantly, I Run

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I’m a runner.

That is to say, I recently began the process of becoming a runner. By the strictest application of the word, I can comfortably use it to describe myself. I run. I do so with regularity.

I just don’t do it very well.

I’ve not been able to lift weights or do any upper-body calisthenics for the past four months thanks to an elbow injury. While I’ve never been a buffed up dude, I like to stay in shape. I lost 50 pounds over two years and pledged to myself that I’d keep the wait off for good. While I’ve gained some back – thanks in large part to this injury – I’m still in far better shape than I was three years ago. All these factors led to the decision that I needed to start running.

Apparently drinking and eating anything I see does not make for a good diet plan.

Even when I exercised regularly, I rarely ran. I loved cross training, lifting weights, pushups, etc. I’d even spend time on the elliptical machine each week to make sure I was getting a little cardio. But running never struck me as an enjoyable weigh to exercise. After a pair of ACL surgeries, I decided I could find better ways to stay fit without further torturing my knees. Thanks to this lingering elbow injury I found few options for exercise other than walking – which led to running.

The Internet provides the perfect venue for would-be runners. No, one cannot run on the Internet – although I double- and triple-checked to be sure. But the Internet does allow one to search for running programs that fit each individual need.

After Google searching “fat lazy runner” I landed on a Couch-to-5K program. Perfect! I love my couch and have spent a lot of time there recently. This program spoke to me. Literally! A breathy British chick guides you through each run. I specifically liked the fact that my hot new British trainer only asked me to run for one minute at a time during the first week. I nailed those! As the weeks progress she asked me to run for longer periods of time.

Today, the start of my fourth week, that snarky, mocking Limey hooligan demanded that I run for three minutes and five minutes at a time – twice each. The nerve!

I attacked that first pair of runs with vigor, easily making it through both runs at a good pace. Take that, England! After a minute-and-a-half walking rest, I started the next three-minute run. I managed to make it all the way to the end of the run, but I’m pretty sure I was hallucinating by the end of it. That or I actually saw a beer-bellied ogre wearing a Union Jack t-shirt, pointing and laughing at me.

I was instructed by Margaret Thatcher’s ghost to “rest” again for 90 seconds before starting my final run. I chose a path today that included a slow, steady incline as I headed back home, completely unaware of how brutal my English task master would be this morning. After about two minutes of my final five minute run, I was out of gas. My shrill, taunting Cockney trainer “encouraged” me to keep it up – just three minutes left! – advising me to slow my pace if I struggled with the run. Slow my pace? How cute. Early morning commuters craned their necks to make sure I was not, in fact, dead. A few may very well have feared that the zombie apocalypse had begun.

As I gasped and wheezed toward the end, a fellow runner – neigh, a real runner – zoomed by me at what must have been an Olympic pace. Filled with inspiration, I managed to squeeze out one more minute of running from my rubbery, weary legs before finally admitting to myself that I had nothing left in the tank. I began my “cool down” walk back home, wondering if my injured elbow could possibly hurt any more than my beleaguered knees and feet did at that moment.

Then it started to rain.

So I slinked back home, now drenched in a combo of record-breaking sweat and rain, questioning virtually every decision I had ever made in my life. I peeled off my soaked gear, dried off, and treated my knees to 30 glorious minutes of ice and rest.

That’s when it happened.

I started thinking about my next run. I imagined how I could perform much better next time, completing all my runs thanks to my lovely, encouraging British trainer. Then and there I committed to crushing my next challenge.

Because I am a runner.

Tread Lightly

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Scientists tell us that anticipation brings humans more joy than the actual event we anticipate. Remember your last vacation? That beach trip probably ended up with too much frustration and too little relaxation. But that didn’t stop you from imagining a perfect getaway in the weeks leading up to the trip.

I feared this same phenomenon would corrupt my enjoyment of my favorite television program’s re-entry into my life. I could not have been more excited for the return of Breaking Bad. The masters of disaster have been on hiatus for the past year, taunting fans with eight more episodes this summer that will finally let us know if Walter White survives the hell he has created or ultimately meets a fate many expect he will find (and deserve) in the New Mexico desert.

As it turns out, the anticipation did not trump the actual event.

With very few exceptions, I laid around like a slug all Sunday while waiting for that evening’s premier. I watched each episode of the first half of Season 5 with the complete rapture I experienced the first time. This stroll down Memory Lane primed the pump for that evening’s main event. It was like the world’s best undercard to the fight of the century.

As fans have come to expect, Vince Gilligan and his writers delivered the goods.

For the entirety of the series – and particularly since the beginning of Season Three – viewers have been waiting for the inevitable Walt/Hank showdown. With only eight episodes remaining, speculation ran wild across the Internet about when that showdown would occur. Fans got their answer at the end of the episode. In the episode’s final, breathtaking scene (that appeared to my untrained eye to be perfectly acted and directed) the mask of Walter White fell away, leaving us with a pulse-pounding standoff between Special Agent Hank Schrader and Albuquerque drug lord Heisenberg.

While we were re-introduced to Walt the family man at the beginning of the episode, Heisenberg reappeared in an instant the moment he felt cornered. And now that he knows Hank has learned the truth, we may never see Walter White again appear on this show. I get the feeling that we are back to all Heisenberg, all the time.

With only seven hours of storytelling left, Vince Gilligan has a lot of ground to cover. If Season Five, Episode Nine tells us anything, though, it is that fans can expect a thrilling race to the finish. From the M-60 assault rifle to the tiny capsule of ricin, Heisenberg has the tools to complete his long descent into darkness. Fans now must grapple with the inevitable questions created by the show’s master puppeteer and his band of writers. Does Walter White survive? If not, who takes him to his eternal resting place? Why is Walt back in the ABQ looking for his ricin?

The Breaking Bad writers have a chance this Sunday night to once again provide the exception to the rule. Anticipation is through the roof. I for one do not expect a letdown.

Predictions after S5, E9:

  • The Ted/Skyler affair (and tax evasion) rears its head again, leading to both of their deaths before the end of August.
  • Hank and Jesse work together to bring down Heisenberg.
  • Declan makes a violent return.
  • Lydia proves to be just as adept at violence as Gus or Walt.



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