Monthly Archives: January 2015

The OCR Drinking Game

A cursory search of the interwebs tells me that there isn’t an obstacle course racing drinking game yet. As a person who came of age in the mid-90s when the internet became a thing that started to exist in your home, as well as a person who operates a website that would like hits, let me fix that for you with:

The OCR Drinking Game

(I know it’s morally reprehensible, but I kind of wanted to travel back in time to 1996 so I could put that in <flash> tags.)

Anyhow, you know the disclaimer: This is for amusement purposes only. Do not attempt to actually play this drinking game. You will die. And not in the fun, “That course killed me” kind of way. You’ll die in the “My brain and liver and heart all stopped functioning because they were soaked in alcohol” kind of way. So don’t be a hero—or Wade Boggs.

This game, which shouldn’t be played ever, can be played at an obstacle course race, or while training, or while online.

Take one drink when:
Someone shouts “Aroo!” in response to someone else shouting it.
Someone brags about doing multiple races or multiple loops of a race in a single day.
Someone complains about how a race series has gone downhill in quality since some undefined time in the past.
Someone complains about medal quality.
Someone posts something inspirational online.
You engage beast mode.
You see a military recruitment tent.
Your hair gets caught on barbed wire.
You’re in line at the gear check (one drink per minute wait).
Someone mentions Hobie Call’s last race.
You join an OCR group of some sort.
You see a race with “mud” or “muddy” in its title.
You run shirtless.
You run in a zombie-themed OCR.
There’s a kids’ version of an adult OCR race.
You spot the Fat Boy of Fat Boy Big Wall on a course.
There’s an ice bath obstacle.
You see an old person running a race and crushing it.
Someone extols the virtues of kale.

Take two drinks when:
Someone shouts “I’m an individual, dammit!” in response to somebody else shouting “Aroo!”
Someone posts something inspirational online, but it’s completely first-person, so really it’s that they’re posting something self-aggrandizing.
You become engaged with Beastmaster, and register at Linens and Things.
You join the military at a military recruitment tent.
Your beehive wig gets caught on barbed wire.
You’re in line for the free beer after the race (two drinks per minute wait).
Someone mentions Rose Wetzel’s last race.
You are added to an OCR group, but the group is in the middle of some sort of turmoil that may or may not be a scandal and may or may not involve some embezzlement and may or may not destroy the team even though said team may or may not be a family and oblique posts about the situation dominate your facebook feed for several weeks without actually providing any insight on what happened.
You see a race with “battle” in its title.
You run pantsless.
You run in a mummy-themed OCR.
An adult enters the kids’ version of an adult OCR race in a cynical attempt to finally make a podium.
You spot Fat Boy of Fat Boy Big Wall on the course, climbing a big wall unassisted.
There’s a Portuguese Man-O-War bath obstacle.
You see a fat person running a race and crushing it.
Someone extols the virtues of bacon.

Take three drinks when:
You’re in line for an obstacle (three drinks per minute wait).
Someone mentions Ron Jeremy’s last race.
You see a race with “death” in its title.
You run in an elegant emerald evening gown, including heels, gloves, and diamond tiara.
You run in a nagging mummy themed OCR. (She’s not mad, just disappointed.)
An adult enters the kids’ version of an adult OCR race in a cynical attempt to finally make a podium and succeeds. (I was going to say “fails,” but this adult has obviously had a pretty sad and pathetic life, so why don’t we just give him this one and then not talk to him again, eh?)
You see a person without legs running a race and crushing it.
Someone extols the virtues of coconut oil pulling.

Take four drinks when:
You see a race with “Cuisinart” in its title.
You run dressed as Carmen Miranda.
You run in a Carmen Miranda-themed OCR.
You overuse the phrase “crushing it.” (For purposes of this list, as well as life in general, any use of the phrase “crushing it” shall be considered overuse.)
Someone extols the virtues of Denny’s.

This drinking game should be considered a work in progress. If there’s anything in the OCR world that you’d like to be forced to drink every time you see (NO, NOT REALLY!), let me know in comments or by Twitter. (I retain the right to edit/curate/whatever the frick I want.)

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The Savior of Canada’s Workout Goes Horribly, Horribly Wrong

I reserve the right to lie on this blog. It’s my blog, and a lot of things that happen to me aren’t that entertaining or interesting, and if I’m going to become rich and famous as an amusing obstacle course race blogger it simply won’t do to to relate the boring stuff. I’m hardly the only one—I’ve always suspected that people who have incredibly “remarkable” stories usually don’t, and I know that most magazines will gladly sell a cover story for enough ad pages—and I’m only doing it for entertainment purposes rather than to try to sell you on anything (apart from said entertainment), so I don’t feel bad about it.

For example, a couple weeks ago I spotted a typo in the Ontario Traffic Manual. That document provides design guidance for roads, and it said that a certain type of sign in a certain type of situation should be posted every 20 meters—which seemed way too close together, so I emailed them, and they agreed that it should have been 200 meters, and that they’ll correct it in the next edition.

Now, as exciting as alerting someone to a minor error in their guidebook that will lead to an eventual correction might sound, I’ve decided that I need to jazz it up a bit. Thus, I’m declaring myself Savior of Canada. If you bike in Ontario—and who in Canada doesn’t?—my correction will literally save your life. You’re welcome.

Despite being the Savior of Canada, workouts don’t always go perfectly, and today’s was no exception. Now, in reality, what happened is this: I ate some junk food before bed last night, and it didn’t agree with my stomach, which made it really hard for me to fall asleep last night, so I got maybe three hours of sleep. So, when I got to the workout, I didn’t have full energy levels, and I crashed about halfway through. I made it through, but my rowing sprints were easily 6 seconds per 500 meters slower than my usual sprint pace.

Again, I’m already falling asleep, and that’s only 35% the sleep deprivation. So to be more non-reverent, let’s alter reality a bit.

It still starts with munching on a bit of junk food last night. See, there was a child desperately selling candy for her basketball team, and if I didn’t buy some they weren’t going to be able to go to the state tournament in Sacramende, so I did buy some, and then right afterword I got mugged, but I didn’t have any money on me, so in order to appease the mugger I agreed to devour all of the candy without even unwrapping it while also performing a one-man Argentine tango, thus giving the mugger his first ever smile. Then he punched me, so I punched him back and knocked him out, but that’s another tale.

Anyhow, the gastrointestinal distress interfered with my rest yesterday, although it seemed to subside nicely this morning. At least until I got to my workout class.

Unfortunately, workouts often involve some bending, and jumping, and stretching, and squeezing, and various other things that can shuffle the various winds loose from their pancreatic coils. Now, the Savior of Canada is well known for his control. He would never, ever, ever unleash rectal thunder on his adoring public. And so he practiced control.

Push-ups? No problem. Farmer walks? Easy-peasy. Tire flips? Downright joyful.

But no good thing can last. Eventually, the workout became more taxing, particularly to that network of sphincter muscles that are responsible for blocking the many tubes, channels, and passageways that might allow flatus to rumble forth unbidden—including, of course, that massive sphincter serving as rear gatekeeper for the whole works.

The first sign of danger came on the treadmill sprints, but I was able to shut the system down and power through. The aforementioned rowing, with the associated folding and unfolding, proved to be more difficult, and the strain clearly affected my performance. The various core exercises were even worse: How is one to perform a Russian Twist with a 14-pound medicine ball in your hands and the equivalent amount of methane in your belly? But the Savior of Canada found a way. He thought of the spirits of the Spartans and the Warriors and the Mudders and the Muckers and the Froggers and everything else that’s inspirational in the world, and he powered through, and he did it, all while referring to himself in the third person.

But success turned out to be his undoing. After the core work, he felt completely confident that his enemy had been vanquished—but the workout wasn’t quite finished. ‘Twas an innocuous shoulder raise that broke through the sphincter seal that had resisted toe-to-bars and bear crawls and squat jumps too. But it did, and with it…

The sound was something like if you took Bonnie Tyler in the midst of the climax of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in one hand, and Bonnie Tyler in the midst of the climax of “Holding out for a Hero” in the other, and slapped their mouth-flaps together at a rapid 180 Hertz.

While the sound horrified people, the scent of the gallons of toxic tummy gas was what really caused the problem. It was like if you buried 300 pounds of meat loaf in a sulfur pit with Meat Loaf and let them marinate for 87 days (before adding Meat Loaf) and then 16 more seconds after adding Meat Loaf. We opened all of the windows, and evacuated, and purchased hazmat suits for all of the neighbors within 6 miles, but it wasn’t enough. Fortunately, I don’t know the names of the seven people who died, so they don’t matter. And in any event, the number of lives saved by the Savior of Canada justify a few trifling sacrifices.

It’s good to be a hero.

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Sunday Mockery: A Possible New Feature

I’ve decided (or at least, considered the possibility that) it would behoove me to be more aggressive in my non-reverence. In that spirit, and in what may become a new regular thing here at Fat Boy Big Wall, allow me to provide some gentle mockery of the OCR world. (And see below for my justifications, and my worries, and other random brain-explosions.)

The bits:

Muckfest Tweet announcing The Bachelor involvment
Muckfest Facebook post announcing the Bachelor

Is it really wise to share mud pits with the VD-riddled cast of The Bachelor? That’s a crew with enough strains of gonorrhea to save Tinkerbell.

Warrior Dash "follower" post

Show you’re not a follower… by following us!

The concerns

If I may brain dump, let me express my concerns. Basically, snark is fun and all, unless it’s aimed at you. Then, it might be fun, but it might not be. In a former job, I was (by a weird mix of circumstances) a significant conduit to the public, in addition to holding the actual, professional position with functions that had to be done. So I was the recipient of a lot of humor, and a lot of “humor,” and a lot of outright hostility that targeted me because I was a convenient representative of the organization, even though I generally had nothing to do with the subject of the complaint. Being targeted constantly like that massively sucked, and several years of it had a lot to do with how fat I got. So I’m leery of doing that to another person.

Of course, I’m making fun of marketing efforts, which are often inherently absurd. I know this as both a recipient (I once got a press release whose only announcement was that the company had just returned from a major trade show. It was issued about three weeks after said trade show, so either they traveled by koalaback or they ran into a very drunk Doctor Who on the way.) and producer of marketing (checking the math on the statistical reports that employer issued used to chill me to the bone).

My sense of humor tends toward the absurd, so my mockery will in general go at diagonals away from the posts I mock, rather than directly at their heart. (Unless, of course, I detect malice—including that nefarious, doe-eyed “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone so I’m sorry if you were offended” bullshit that is so prevalent among assholes.) That, and the fact that I am giving the mock-ees a Twitter favorite and a link to boost their social media engagement stats, is how I’m justifying my actions in my mind. Even so, I’m not 100% sure that’s right, and my policy may change. If you’ve got feedback, let me know in comments.

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Off-Topic Former Job Trauma

Apologies in advance for this one, but I’ve had a new little trauma that I’d like to work through, and I don’t really have another way to do so. Either be amused by it, or horrified by it, or be fascinated by it as a real-time view of a descent into madness.

Here’s the situation: My former employer posted a new job opportunity yesterday. This job is essentially the job that I was doing for them when I worked there. Well, actually, no. The job is essentially the parts of the job that I was doing for them when I worked there that I liked, without the shitty parts that I hated, and it pays a solid third more than I was making.

Now, I don’t like my former employer; it did a lot of harm to me when I was there both emotionally and financially. Despite that, I managed to leave on decent terms with all of my immediate co-workers, which is even more impressive because there were at least three separate factions that all pretty much hated each other. In fact, I’ve done a fair amount of freelance work for them since then.

So, I’d kind of like the job. I don’t trust the former employer, but that’s kind of okay—I would know what to expect, and more importantly what not to expect, so that I don’t think that I would hate every second I spent in the place this time. (I’ve certainly become better at depersonalizing things in my new job; even when people are being intentionally aggravating or disruptive I don’t have the incredibly familiar hate that I used to feel when that happened at the old place.) I doubt it would be my last job, but I think it would be okay for a few years.

Getting the job may well be another story, however, for many reasons. Some are legitimate, some aren’t, and I don’t think I need to go into them. What I’d like to do is get a sense from my former boss if she would want me in the job. Asking seems to be against job-hunting protocol, and I doubt she’d tell me, but I know for a fact that she would have an answer.

At this point, well-meaning individuals would encourage me to go for it, because what could I lose. They are, however, wrong. Job-hunting is a dire, wearying game that I’ve been playing nearly constantly for four years. Spending time on applications is physically painful. The interview that I would almost undoubtedly be granted as a courtesy would be torture, both in the act itself and the anxiety leading up to and following it. Moreover, there is absolutely no reason to believe that it would be fruitful, because the job interview process is designed to not hire me. I started there as a temp and only got hired because I could do far more than the other people working there. I only got promoted from a clerical to a professional position because I was already doing all the professional work and I was about to leave or maybe sabotage something if I wasn’t. I did about 10 interviews for other positions there, including one for the professional position that I was already doing, and was successful zero times. Thinking about it makes me cranky.

I have an excuse to talk to my ex-boss’s number-2 tomorrow, so I’m going to ask if there’s any information she can provide. And then, if it seems likely to be fruitful, talk to the boss herself. There are, frankly, a lot of ways that this won’t end with me getting the job. I hope that they decide to take one of the quick and non-painful ones.

That’s as close to optimism as I can manage right now. Sorry.

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Vicious Cycles

So much for the New Year’s bump.

Things came crashing down hard last week. I know what prompted it. Last weekend I spent a lot of time doing things I didn’t care about, none of which will help my life and some of which may make it slightly worse. There was a photo shoot for a head shot for my job, which despite being at a cheap place was also over my boss’s budget, so there’s a chance that I’m going to have to shell out some cash for it. Then there was my volunteer shift, which took twice as long as usual because I was training somebody, and based on every bit of body language I would guess that she’s never coming back. And finally there was the fact that I spent several hours traveling to each of these places because where I live is not actually convenient to anything.

All of that sounds petty. (And I mean that literally because I am dictating this into my iPhone while I’m out for an evening walk in the unseasonably warm 36° temperatures.)

One of my great problems, unfortunately, is that I’m pretty susceptible to petty things.

It’s been that way for a few years. Over the course of a few months, I lost most of my support network, and I haven’t done a good job of rebuilding it. Some of that is just not having great skills at such things, and some of that is that the things I’ve tried either haven’t worked well or have worked just fine but aren’t really capable of being the kind of support network I would like, and some of that is the fact that I’ve been in a job-hunting-related limbo state for nearly all of that time and knowing that when a new job does come along, I’m almost definitely going to be moving.

The job I have now is also a big part of the problem, although it’s not really the job’s fault. I work from home, and without the kind of connections that I used to have, it’s incredibly isolating. In short, it’s exactly the wrong thing I should be doing right now.

The result is, when even petty bad things happen, there isn’t much to keep me from roller-coastering into doldrums of bad eating and minimal activity. The bad eating is the real problem; junk food tastes good, at least in its way, so at least something goes right that day, but it also makes the lethargy worse.

There’s an obvious block here that I don’t know how to deal with. The goals I have aren’t really that complicated, and the plan to reach them isn’t either, but it doesn’t handle slip-ups well, and being in a state of perpetual burnout from being in a bad situation makes holding off slip-ups hard.

I wish I had a good answer to this one. I mean, I do—fix the situation, which I’m trying to do, but which hasn’t happened yet—but an answer to how to cope in the meantime. Got one? Please share.

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Medal Culture, T-Shirts, and (again) Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder has certainly dropped some news bombs this week. After the tear gas news, they’ve done something that will really make obstacle course racers cry: They’ve announced that they will stop giving finisher T-shirts. (Which I learned via @muddy_race.)

Even from my disinterested, non-Tough-Mudder-racer perspective, I’ve managed to become of several minds of this news.

On one brain, there’s a rational understanding that putting on an obstacle course race is a business, and that cutting costs are sometimes part of doing business.

On a slightly related brain, and one that’s poorly developed with (to gruesomely mix metaphors) grotesque facial features and one arm that’s just a stump and another with a tiny little hand that’s somehow worse than the stump, it seems like over the past couple decades, when businesses shift their focus to cost-cutting it’s a sign that they don’t feel they have any more room to grow the business so if they want to increase profits cutting spending is their only option. So let’s toss that completely irresponsible rumor out there.

On a third brain that’s much more robust and still sort of related, kind of like that third or fourth cousin you have who is Justin Bieber (or maybe someone who doesn’t suck), is the thought that T-shirts are a pretty silly expense to cut. They’re popular and they’re a good form of advertising that’s pretty likely to reach its intended audience. After all, people who run obstacle course races generally spend at least some of their time in a gym or some other fitnessy-type place, where other people who might consider an obstacle course race will also spend some amount of time, and as a race T-shirt is appropriate attire for such a venue, it will in all likelihood be worn there occasionally. While seven bucks a shirt (a value that may or may not be close; it was the first figure I found online for 10,000 printed T-shirts) certainly adds up, it seems like the savings probably wouldn’t justify the ill will.

The fourth brain is safely unrelated and therefore marriageable. And that one is: I don’t get the medal culture—and the other gear gift culture—that seems to run through obstacle course racing like some really good obstacle course racer through a really easy obstacle course. (And boom goes the simile dynamite!) Okay, that’s not 100 percent true—I get it in the sense that medals and horny hats and T-shirts are neat things and that there’s an in-built acquisitive nature to our brains, that says when we see something neat, we must have it.

I can even accept that these schmoogies (a highly technical term I once picked up from a trade show booth organizer) are a nice memento of a nice and relatively unique experience, and even an accomplishment. (Although I can’t let that pass without wondering how many people who are deeply concerned about their finisher gear would in the same breath rant about how the real problem with society is that we’re raising kids to expect a participant ribbon whenever they don’t win something.)

OCR Finisher medals, shirts, hats, sweatbands, and mailers with overly defined dangly bits.

My collection of participant ribbons from two obstacle course races (so far).

From a rational standpoint, I just can’t care too much about these schmoogies. In two OCRs, I’ve got 3 medals (see next paragraph), a headband, a hat, and two shirts, and I don’t think I’ll mind I never get another thingy. I suppose I’m not yet actively bothered at having to find a place to stuff them all, but I don’t see any great value to them, and I don’t understand the great passion when something goes wrong.

As it did, sort of, at the Spartan Stadium Sprint in Milwaukee this year. Whether by typo in the design or a production glitch, the finisher medals said “SPARIAN RACE.” I didn’t actually notice, which is odd for me because proofreading is something I naturally do automatically. I once casually caught a typo in Italian, which is not a language I know. My only defense is that I didn’t actually look at the medal upon receiving it until a few days later, when I saw some hyperbolic complaints on the race’s Facebook page about how the error proved just how far down the toilet the Spartan Race had been flushed and how the poster was NEVER going to do ANOTHER one of those TERRIBLE races AGAIN and how they RUINED Christmas ALSO!!!!!!>!!!

As with most things where words appear in all caps and exclamation points are used, that type of reaction was well over the top.

It should be noted that Spartan Race did send out new medals, presumably to all racers but at least to me, with a correctly spelled medal and even a reasonably charming note. (It also included a few photos, one of which had some reasonably prominent dangly bits concealed only by some yellow Spandex; whether you consider that a plus or a minus is beyond my willingness to judge.) So even if you were traumatized by the incorrectly spelled medal, I can’t imagine not considering that an adequate make-right gesture.

Onto brain 5 and final: T-shirts are a bit of a different animal than medals or horny hats or even headbands, as they have a practical use—preventing you from being distracted by my sexy, sexy nipples. I’ve used both of mine for exactly that purpose, even the Warrior Dash one, which has a design I don’t like and is pretty crappily made besides. So while I wouldn’t miss getting race-completer-stuff if it were done away with, I definitely wouldn’t mind getting more race-completer-T-shirts.

So there you have a lovely mishmash of 5 brains on the topic, enough for a full hand or perhaps a basketball team. Which is the center and which is the bird? (Which mixes the metaphors so delightfully that I couldn’t resist even though it will never make logical sense, as the center is the bird on the former, and the Bird is a center on the latter. Except, as I learned on Wikipedia, he was a forward, but I’m not going to let facts mess with wordplay.) As with a great many things, that’s up for debate.

In this case, I would generally be interested in hearing from people who do care more about their medals/hats/bands/etc. As I said, I don’t really understand that perspective, but I wouldn’t mind doing so. So drop your comments in the comments, and let understanding bloom.

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Me and Reality TV (American Ninja Warrior!)

I can no longer say I’ve never tried out for a reality TV show.

(This isn’t the first time that my family has been touched by reality. My sister-in-law appeared on an episode of Four Weddings, in which brides apparently turn their weddings into competitions. It should be noted that she was not the bride in any of the competing weddings—I think she was a bridesmaid—which is kind of too bad because her wedding totally would have kicked any of the other weddings’ asses.)

This is my audition video for American Ninja Warrior:

I am not expecting to be cast. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed seeing the video; even though I know how much better I am at doing things than I was a few years ago, I see this and see how slow and struggly I still am. As I note in the video, my angle is that if I get cast this year, it will be seeding a great redemption story for next year as I continue to get fitter. While that’s probably not a common storyline for the producers to be seeing, I still don’t expect much.

The application process is also not in my favor—it involved all sorts of bullshit questions, the same type that HR people ask when they’re interviewing you for a job and trying to show that they’re clever or maybe just that they want you to suffer. For example, things about the most traumatic event in your life. The actual response is, first, none of your fucking business, and then, there’s no way I can convey what you’re looking for in an eight second soundbite because it involved a betrayal that was trivial on its face but absolutely devastating when you take the lifetime of subtext that preceded it into account.

I at least was able to spice up the written portion a bit too. Another question was about any interesting or unique collections that I have, which I do. See, I produce and collect butterfly pornography. (It’s a lot more innocent than that. I volunteer at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and one of its central features is the Butterfly Haven with about a thousand live, free-flying butterflies. And as live, wild animals occasionally do, these butterflies sometimes have sex. Or fuck, really, since the act can last several hours. Seriously, it’s a place that is completely inappropriate for children. Anyhow, the first time I saw it, I snapped a photo, and I’ve generally done so since then when I’ve seen it happen, and I periodically bring it up when I’m in a bad conversation and want to scare the other person away. The photos are generally good; it’s one of the few times the butterflies stop moving long enough for a good shot.)

Another, obvious bullshit question was “Do people ever underestimate you? How does that make you feel?” That one was just too stupid to provide the answer they wanted, so my reply was: “I have never been estimated. Every possible statistical evaluation of me and my abilities is constantly displayed on an LED display projected by a microchip in my forehead to the nearest available surface. If necessary for television purposes, however, I am willing to convincingly claim that being underestimated just fires me up to prove what I’m able to do.”

What else? I relayed my potentially heroic story of helping an elderly lady who was having severe difficulty walking make it to the bus stop—which may have also been a tale of sadistic demagoguery if she was actually escaping a nursing home that was providing the specialized cognitive care she desperately needed, as every single car she saw she claimed had been following her all day. I also relayed my favorite word in Finnish (pilkunnussija), although it appears that I may have inadvertently omitted the “l” from it, which may be ironic enough to advance me to the final round.

Anyhow, you can be certain I will let you know if I am cast. Unless they throw a bajillion confidentiality agreements with the threat of an $84 million dollar lawsuit at me. In that case, I’ll just give you oblique hints or innuendo.

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