Monthly Archives: September 2015

Molasses, or, A Very Useful Rest

Last weekend I visited my brother, his wife, my pre-existing nephew and my brand-new nephew. It proved to be a rather timely and useful respite from some stuff, and a good opportunity to recharge.

Not that it was restful. Pre-existing nephew is two and a half, and very active and curious in delightful but exhausting ways. But it was honestly tiring, rather than artificially draining, which is easier to recover from. Or, maybe the novelty of it was enough to make the difference as good as a rest. That’s a question for the philosophers.

Creepy uncle GregOne great benefit that I didn’t expect but should have is the reminder of what I’m working for: I’d like the nephews to grow up knowing me in good shape. I want to be a creepy uncle, rather than a fat uncle. I mean, I don’t want to be creepy, but I’ve got that locked up so I’m tired of fighting it. (If you doubt me, see the photo at right.)

The other big benefit was that I got to take a few days away from some looming career molasses. I say that not because the situation is particularly sticky—in fact, I’m not exactly sure what the situation will wind up being. But molasses is a good descriptor regardless. It’s definitely slow-moving, and it will either be sweet and delicious and be capable of spontaneously producing rum, or it will produce a dense flood that destroys buildings and kills 21 and is the basis of an underutilized rejoinder whenever Red Sox fans talk about… Well, whenever Red Sox fans talk. I’m unsure which it is; I’d guess it’s 60-40 on the flood, but… If it is the good one, I’ll write about it later. (Edited to add: It’s the flood. Fuckers.)

One quite handy thing about the trip is that the hills that don’t exist in my neighborhood exist in abundance near my brother’s house. I also learned a valuable trick: it helps a lot to warm up with a bit of a run on flattish land before tackling the hills. (Also, my brother’s neighborhood really could use some parkland with publicly accessible toilets.)


Hands up if you’d like to kick this smug little git in his firebox.

Anything else? Well, I now know a lot more about Thomas the Tank Engine than I used to. Rheneas is a bit of a twat, no? Brand-new nephew is still too young to have any meaningful opinion on trains, but pre-existing nephew seems to really enjoy them. We took him to a fall festival (my brother says that Long Island becomes basically one solid congealed mass of FallFestivalium in September, and we certainly did pass about seven that we didn’t go to) where he was quite mesmerized by a model train set, so the next day we went to a train museum.

Also, since at one point of the Fall Festival it was blaring: Is it just me, or is the (obviously) country song “International Harvester” about incest? The singer is the third generation son of a farmer, and he’s been married for ten years to the farmer’s daughter. Which would be his sister. I can’t be the first one to notice this…


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How Not to Do the Hercules Hoist

There are plenty of places online that will give you advice on how to complete various popular obstacle course race obstacles. This is not one of those places. This series of posts will teach you how to fail those popular obstacles. More specifically, this series will teach you how to fail obstacles—with style and panache. If you’re going to earn burpees, you might as well earn those burpees.

Today’s obstacle: the Hercules Hoist.

Father Ted screencap

(You may also name your sandbag Sampras.)

  1. Give your sandbag a name, like Flopsy or Bruce or Father Jack Hackett.
  2. Ask Flopsy or Bruce or Father Jack Hackett if it really wants to be hoisted. If the answer is no, respect its wishes and accept your burpees with grace. Sandbags are people too.
  3. If it is willing to be hoisted, then offer your thanks to Mother Earth for her willingness to support the sandbag so far, Father Sky for accepting the sandbag into his aerial realm, Sister Sisal for paying the sandbag’s price for flight with her sturdy tension, Uncle Pulley for maintaining a mechanical advantage near 1 (apart from friction), and Archimedes for first describing the simple machines. (He was from Syracuse, not Sparta, which I’m sure will anger people, but the truth isn’t always politically correct. But it sometimes is, so if you use “politically correct” as an insult reflexively without considering the actual correctness of the statement in question, you’re an ass.)
  4. Drum Circle

    Drum circle photo by Kit O’Connell via Wikimedia licensed under Creative Commons.

    Make certain you pull in harmony with the Earth’s heartbeat. You can do this by keeping time with a drum circle; if you did not bring a drum circle to the race, you may have to close your eyes and astrally project back in time to one of the drum circles you attended this week.

  5. When you have completed, leave an offering of kale seeds to memorialize the occasion and nourish future hoisters.
  6. Contrary to popular belief, it is not mandatory to dance naked around a bonfire in celebration, unless said bonfire is greater than eight feet high, or the moon is in its waxing gibbous phase, or you’re camping with a group of performers from a minor-league Renaissance Faire, which is not a story I’m planning to tell.
  7. Quit bogarting the good stuff, man.

Previous entries in the “How Not To” series:

Wall Climb
Spear Throw
Bucket Brigade
Monkey Bars

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Monthly Goals: Turning the Ship Around

As of the beginning of August, things had been sort of in free-fall for me for a couple of months. I feel like things have sort of turned around a bit—although the two races I did last month did take a bit out of me. Nevertheless: Here’s my review of my goals from last month.

Weight: Goal was a 7-day average of 253; I didn’t make that, but I did reverse the increases of the past couple of months slightly, with a drop of about a pound and a half.

Success at the Spartan Rope Climb: Being able to climb the rope in the gym didn’t turn out to be the key to success on the course. I wasn’t even able to get up out of the water pit.

Enjoying the Spartan Super: While the start of the Spartan Race was brutal, and the overall race was a bit more grueling than I absolutely needed, I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than Indy. I’ll count this one as a win. And as a bonus, I definitely had a lot of fun at the Badass Dash.

Climbing: Mixed to near-success here. My goal was to complete two of the yellow (easiest) problems in the cave, and to succeed at one green (the next level up) problem. I succeeded at one of the yellow problems, which really shocked me, and I was one hold away on each of the others. Considering I couldn’t get off the starting holds at the start of the month, there was a lot of improvement. The one slightly disappointing thing about climbing: It doesn’t really make a great goal. I only went four times last month, and that’s actually a fairly high number for me. For me, climbing is more of an extra thing—it’s a lot of fun, and it’s really wonderful to learn a new skill, and it’s great to work muscles in a new way, but it will probably never replace my normal workouts. Also, another new climbing gym just opened in Chicago, and I’ve got passes at it and the original one, so unless I develop a clear favorite I’ll be going to both. (I also should try the new outdoor city-owned climbing park before too long.) Which will mean that I won’t have a lot of chances to even identify goals, let alone work towards improving them. So probably no more climbing goals for a long while, which is too bad, because I really do enjoy it.

Monkey Bars: My goal was 40 rungs, but I hardly practiced at all. There’s a bit of defense for this: I usually try to do this at my gym before class starts, but if there’s equipment set up it often blocks the monkey bars, and this seemed to happen most days.

Dad’s Little Book of Rage pictures: Not even close. My goal was 15, and I only did 3. The central conceit of this work is that, due to a fairly cult-like environment in which the author has lived his entire life, there are rather a lot of flagrantly absurd things that he believes quite fervently. Such as that this:

Sermon on the mount from Dad's Little Book of Ragewas an accurate depiction of the Sermon on the Mount.

Goals for this month

Weight: A classic, a broken record, whatever. Goal will be a 252 7-day average.

Hills: The races this month exposed just how weak my hill running is. Ironically, it was the mostly flat Badass Dash that proved it: The Spartans were awful, but I assumed they were awful because of the mud and slickness of the hills. But the small amount of hills in the Badass Dash took way too much out of me, so that’s an area that definitely needs to be addressed. And the Bourbon Chase, coming next month, will definitely have some, so I’d best prepare. My goal will be twofold. First, after every class at my gym, run the stairs to the roof (a seven-floor run.) Hopefully I’ll find that I have to do multiple stair runs by the end of the month. Second, once a week, I’ll do a hill workout in place of my normal run. This is surprisingly difficult: The nearest hill taller than I am is about 5 miles from where I live. I did the first one yesterday, and it was awful. I’m not sure if it was because of the heat, or the bike ride there, or the fact that I’m terrible at hills (probably that one) but there’s a lot of work to do.

Burpees: September 26 my gym is doing a 1000-burpee workout. So I’m going to try to not die at that.

5K: My next race is a 5K to benefit the museum where I volunteer. My time last year was 26:24, I think. My goal for this year will be 26:00. I have no idea if that’s feasible or not. It’s technically October 4, but I’ll count it for this month.


Filed under Badass Dash, Climbing, Goals, Metapost, Running, Spartan Race, Training

10 Reasons to Try an OCR

My monthly goal wrap-up/setting post is coming, when I get some energy (I’ve had a bit of a bug this week, or I’m whining about the megaheat, or something). But in the meantime, here’s a post that I wrote for Sportody on 10 reasons to try an obstacle course race. #10 is unusually sentimental for me.

#8, meanwhile, I’m surprised stayed in. It did get edited slightly—I had a note about feeling free to enjoy the view, as long as you do so in a non-creepy way, which got cut (with my full support). But I wrote it expecting to be asked to replace it, and I even offered to in my submission. Not that I disagree with it, but it does traipse into an area that I wouldn’t be offended if a publication didn’t want to go into.

Sounds dirty and smutty and all, doesn’t it? Well, to find out whether it is or not, you’ll have to read the article to find out!

Also, while you’re here… why don’t you like Fat Boy Big Wall on Facebook. That way you won’t have any chance of missing posts like sad people would, and you’ll even get occasional bonus funny stuff. (Or important stuff, like the free Zumba every Wednesday in Rosemont.)

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Filed under Funny, Metapost, Obstacle Course Racing, Stuff I've Written for Other Sites