Monthly Archives: December 2015

Farewell 2015

Oh, golly gee, an end-of-year wrap-up. How original!


Looking back at my goals for the year, things didn’t go all that well. So instead, I’ll focus on the positive.

Some accomplishments for the year:

  • I learned to climb a rope. Not quite well enough to do it under muddy race conditions, but it’s a first time ever.
  • I added bouldering to my workout mix. It’s not my main gig, but it’s a lot of fun and good for my mental state to do something cool and learn a new skill. It’s hard to gauge precisely its impact physically, but I think there’s some benefit.
  • I did two Spartan Sprints, a Spartan Super, and a Badass Dash.
  • At one of those, I successfully climbed a 6-foot wall unaided. It’s not the Big Wall that gives the site half its title, but it’s a start.
  • I improved my 5K time by 15 seconds.
  • I upped my longest running distance to about 7.5 miles.
  • I was part of a team that completed a 200-mile running relay.
  • After a year, the blog is still going fairly consistently. I’m still trying to figure out precisely what the site is and what I want it to be. Originally I intended it to be a pure comedy site, and I definitely still enjoy that—but I also like writing legitimate thoughts (and even approaching journalism on a couple occasions) and event reports and using it for more personal goal-setting-type stuff. The multi-billion-dollar book deal that was supposed to come out of the blog (all of my publishing experience tells me that’s how things are supposed to work) hasn’t happened yet, but it will.
  • I’ve done some periodic contributions to a couple other sites, Obstacle Racing Media and Sportody.
  • I’ve demonstrated, without a doubt, that isolation isn’t a good environment (I work at home, where I live alone, so…) and am taking steps to fix that, though they’re slower than I’d like.

I’m sure you’re deeply excited to know that I’ll be posting goals for 2016 tomorrow, but until then, don’t be stupid and drive if you get wasted at a New Year’s party tonight. And don’t kiss anything at midnight that has visible sores.


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

Spartan Delta Is a Good Thing (Maybe)

Yesterday I posted an article that I’m quite pleased with (seriously, read it) roundly* mocking the Spartan Delta.

Spartan Delta

Today, I’d like to offer my support for it. Sort of. It might be support that Spartan would actively not want, but it’s support nonetheless.

Why mock it at all? Well, this is, at least partly, a comedy blog, so mocking is what I do (when I’m not being really insightful or incredibly narcissistic). And Spartan Delta is a good target, because it is incredibly stupid.

(See? Support! I can already hear Spartan saying “thank you”, and plotting to support me right back by building me a special cargo net where the top rungs aren’t actually tied down. Assuming they’re aware of me, which, let’s face it, no.)

Where was I? Oh, right. Stupid.

That’s accurate, as far as it goes. But it’s also deeply unfair, which I’ll blame on shortcomings in the English language and a limit to the willingness of readers to follow the necessary steps to overcome them.

When I say the Spartan Delta is stupid, I mean it’s an object that I see no value for, representing an achievement I have no wish to accomplish in a manner that I find silly. Or, perhaps, it’s like a bridesmaid dress: something that requires a fair bit of expenditure that I am unlikely to ever have a use for, and which those who purchase will only use once, and which is heavy and unflattering to wear and extremely painful if you sit on it wrong, but that some people like to have around at certain occasions.

But saying it’s stupid implies that it has no value for others, which may or may not be true—I’m not others, and I don’t have any particular insight into whether a pyramid that holds medal pieces/participation ribbons fills a need for them.

My opinion is perfectly valid, but it’s also inherently personal. But by expressing it publicly, there’s an implication that it has value for others, which isn’t justified. But English really doesn’t have a way to express that idea succinctly. And trying to explain it the long way? I mean, I’m arguably a professional grammarian and I had to nap while I was writing that up. (And that’s even considering how much the bridesmaid dress simile made me giggle.)

If you got bored and skipped, let me boldface this so you have an easy entry point back in. We’ve agreed that while a) I find Spartan Delta silly and pointless, b) other people may not, so c) it has value to them and therefore d) it has a non-zero value to the universe.

But that’s not really enough for me to sincerely feel that it’s (potentially) a good thing. To get to that part, we need to step back from the Delta leak/marketing hype while still gazing upon it, and upon Spartan in general.

For all its claims to be building better people and changing lives and whatnot, Spartan is a business. The marketing slogans don’t have to be true or even sincere goals. I’m inclined to think that they are, at least to some extent, but they’re irrelevant to whether Spartan will be around in five years: the health of the business is ultimately what will determine that.

I’ve seen some complaints online about Spartan’s supposedly money-grubbing ways recently, particularly in the wake of the price increase for its annual pass. I don’t have any actual information about Spartan’s costs or revenues, so I won’t speak to whether or not that’s fair or greedy or justified or anything. But I will observe that, like any other business, Spartan is going to try to make its numbers look the way it wants to.

In general, that’s a good thing for me and for all obstacle course racers**. If the numbers are good, then there will probably be Things I Like in the form of more races or new obstacles or lower/stable prices or other cool things. If the numbers don’t work out, then there will probably be Things I Don’t Like—fewer races, bigger crowd-created bottlenecks, higher prices, and so on.

I don’t think I’m too far off in surmising that the Spartan Delta is intended to help Spartan make its numbers look right. So if it succeeds in that, it’s good news.***

So in short, I guess I’m hoping that people who find value in the Spartan Delta will help to subsidize my racing. That truly is a good thing.

Martha Stewart

Ahhhhh! The most horrifying obstacle of them all!


(Also: the Spartan Delta is stupid. When you think about it, I’m pretty sure you’ll realize that I’m right on that one.)

*Well, not technically, but dodecahedronally isn’t a word.

**There are huge caveats here—businesses can and do abuse power, and I don’t have the libertarian’s belief that that’s A-OK, but in general I’d like businesses to succeed.

***I’m talking Spartan here, but it applies generally to any race company’s initiatives. More healthy race serieses mean more good for racers.

****And yet, by their nature, one would expect selfishness and aloneness to be inextricably intertwined. English is fucked up, I say.

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Introducing the Spartan DoDelta [satire]

In case you hadn’t heard, Spartan is introducing the Spartan Delta. But of course, you have heard about it, because the leaked news—and the massive hype that sprawled from the fact that nobody provided any information about it, other than their certainty that it was the best thing ever—captured the OCR world’s imagination just like a certain product that I think we can all agree turned out to be the most revolutionary transportation product ever.

Paul Blart riding a segway.

Yes, the Segway. At least it revolutionized the ways in which Kevin James movies could be odious.

But sometimes the brightest stars burn out the fastest, and that’s the case with the Spartan Delta, because there’s already something bigger and better.

Fat Boy Big Wall is pleased to be able to exclusively announce:

Spartan DoDelta (front)

The Spartan DoDelta.

The Spartan DoDelta is a handsome dodecahedron made from a premium alloy of tungsten, cobalt, molybdenum, yttrium, and other trendy metals from the nethers of the periodic table. Even better, each of it’s twelve faces has a slot perfectly designed to display one genuine Spartan Race medal (or, perhaps, one official H. Ross Perot Campaign Button.)

That means that when you get your Quadruple Trifecta™, or your Dodecaperot, you will finally have a means of displaying your accomplishment that suitably reflects the effort, cost, dedication, cost, sacrifice, cost, cost, perseverance, cost, grit, cost, determination, and especially cost you invested in it.

And for your sad, unSpartan friends who may not be able to comprehend all this from a simple dodecahedron, there’s more. Words imprinted on each face in imitation goldesque leavelle spell out the following phrase to help you describe your exploits: “I spent twelve hundred dollars to show medals matter more than experience.” AROO!

Rear of the Spartan DoDelta

See! The words continue on the back!

But while the Spartan DoDelta is the only way to show the real you that you’ve contracted Quadtrifectophenia, that’s not it’s only value. It’s also perfect for playing the brand-new Spartan role-playing game, Cargo Nets & Coliform Bacteria. (You’ll need it to roll to see the length of the ticker-tape parade the mayor throws for you upon completion of your next race—if you land on a Sprint medal, it will only be 3 to 5 miles, but a Beast medal will lead to a 12-mile parade!)

So order your Spartan DoDelta today. Only $1199.99! Operators are standing by.

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Now Shorts are Complicated

Once again, I find myself outwitted by modern fitness gear.

Last time it was water bottles. This time: pants.

I bought a new pair of workout shorts today. I’ll admit that I didn’t put a lot of thought or attention into the purchase. In general, I don’t feel like shorts have a huge amount of impact on my workout, so I got cheap ones and didn’t really look at them too closely beforehand, apart from checking the size.

So when I got to the gym today, I discovered that they weren’t just shorts. There were shorts inside the shorts. You can sort of see what I mean—or maybe just get your rocks off—in these pervy up-short photos I took:

The outside of the shorts

Here are the shorts from the outside. And a bit of a flash of leg.

Shorts under shorts.

And here are the shorts under the shorts, with roughly the same flash of leg. Sexy!

I don’t know exactly how to describe it better than that, except that maybe there was something vaguely compression-shorty sewed into the pants at the top, but not connected at the bottom.

So, what’s the issue?

Well, I know that you’re not supposed to wear underwear under compression shorts. But what are the rules for wearing underwear under vaguely compression-shortish things sewed into other shorts? Are there even rules for this situation? I don’t know.

I wound up keeping my underwear on—I didn’t even really realize the inner pants’ existence until they were mostly on, and by then it was way too late. You can’t take off shorts once they’re on. I think I heard that on TV once.

So I worked out with the potentially superfluous underpants. Did it chafe? No, not really. It definitely bunched, although I’m not sure if that’s the influence of the under-under pants or just a flaw in the design of the attached underpants. And you don’t even want to think about the air flow situation. I mean, does junk even breathe? Because if so, mine suffocated. If it doesn’t, I guess it was okay. I guess we can’t know for sure until something gets impregnated by me.

I guess the lesson here is that underpants can be a surprisingly dangerous garment. I fully expect Donald Trump to start demanding that we bomb Fruit of the Loom immediately.

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Your Inspirational Meme Can Go Fuck Itself

Inspirational bullshit is bullshit.

I’ve known that for a while. I was a teen when motivational poster shops were all the rage, selling posters about how Leaders are like eagles, soaring alone, next to posters demanding Teamwork because birds flying in formation use 30% less energy.

While those fecalterias (I hope I just coined a word) seem to be a fad of the past, their spirit continues online. And despite liking the OCR community, on the whole, the pleasure it takes in thoughtlessly spewing meaningless inspirational drivel does piss me off.

Inspiration is worse than useless. It’s that guy who comes over to help you move, and then declares that his contribution to the effort will be to “supervise,” so instead of hauling anything he sits on the couch, which for some reason he’s moved into the doorway, and eats your Doritos and tells everyone that what they’re doing is wrong. Only then at the end, once you are moved, he’ll be the one who’s most demanding that you tell him how incredibly helpful he was, and if you don’t—or worse, point out how much worse he made everything—he’ll throw a hissy-fit for the ages, so you have to indulge him or else he won’t ever get out of the house so you can take a shower after hauling tons of crap up three flights of stairs and then go to bed. It’s “helpful,” rather than helpful.

Sure, people post inspiration to “help” others. But inspiration doesn’t help. It is not an active endeavor. No one focuses on the soaring eagle poster as they climb a giant wall. Instead, inspiration occupies times of idleness, a parasite whose sole purpose is to reproduce so it can demonstrate its own existence.

Inspiration is impersonal. It knows only that it is right—that the secret to happiness and success and joy and everything is to do A. It doesn’t care if A is impossible if its recipient actually needs to take care of X first, and doing that requires a healthy dose of G, L, and P, with a dash of R thrown in for balance, and some Q, C, and N prime to counter the potentially toxic side effects of GLP. It doesn’t care what its recipient needs; its own glory is its only concern.

But inspiration takes no responsibility. When it fails, it is the inspiree’s fault for not committing, or not having the necessary will or brains or grit or resilience or whatever. The barriers that humans face, the frailties and harmful urges that slow us, and the malice from other humans that sabotage us, all of those are nothing to inspiration because they are literally nothing to inspiration. Inspiration can’t conceive of such things, because it is an abstract concept that will never face them. But inspiration is smug, knowing that it knows all simply because it has decided that what it does not conceive of does not exist.

And that’s where its true malice lies. It’s not meant for people who are in pain. It’s there to help people who already feel fine feel more fine, because their fineness is due to their inherent betterness than those poor, worthless, gritless, unresilient souls who are hurting due to their poorness, worthlessness, gritlessness, and unresilience.

So don’t be inspiring. Be the hand that helps someone up when they’ve fallen, or the extra weight that’s needed to start the giant boulder rolling, or the foot that stomps on the baddie’s fingers when he’s hanging from a ledge.

Or not. You’re not actually required to help.

But if you want to help, help. And if you want to “help,” go fuck yourself.


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How Much is a Ton of Stairs?

Metal stairs.

You may not realize it, but this is what stairs look like. (Although my gym’s stairs are inside, and they make a very satisfying clanging sound when you run on them.)

My gym is in the basement, and part of the first floor, of a 7-floor building. But it also has access to the back stairwell that climbs the full height of the building to the rooftop, where workouts sometimes happen, but that’s not really the point. We also use the back stairwell for plain old stair climbs, which seems to be one of the more (good-naturedly) grumbled-about exercises.

A couple days ago, a class I was in was climbing the stairs, and Tahnee complained about how, in a class the day before, the instructor made them do “a ton of stairs.”

In that “man, I’m tired” funk that happens during a workout, my mind wouldn’t let that go. How much is “a ton of stairs?” Sure, it’s intended idiomatically, but that doesn’t mean we can’t calculate it literally as well. Stairs have mass, do they not? It may be tough to weigh them when they’re already installed, but what is life without obstacles to overcome?

Here’s some stuff that I found:

Possibility 1: As a rough estimate, each tread in the stairway is about 44 inches wide and 11 inches deep. The rise is also solid, and that’s about 7 inches tall. So each step has a surface area of 792 square inches (5.5 square feet). According to this article from The Sheet Metal Shop, metal stairs (I didn’t mention it before, but the stairway is metal, presumably steel; it certainly clangs a lot as we climb) are typically made from 12 gauge steel sheet. Now, that article does come from 1910, so technology may have changed somewhat, but I’m going to go with it.

Why? Well, this chart from the Engineering ToolBox shows the different gauges of metal. I was guestimating that the sheeting on the stairs was maybe a tenth of an inch thick, which happens to be… 12 gauge. It’s close enough for the ludicrously imprecise work that I’m doing here. It’s my website, I don’t need to be any more accurate than I want to be (even though I do tend to show my work a lot more than other sites).

So, also from that chart, 12 gauge steel sheet weighs 4.375 pounds per square foot. That means that each step weighs 24.0625 pounds, so one ton of stairs would be 83.11 steps.

As you might have guessed from the fact that I’ve done all of these calculations, I’ve also counted the number of stairs. (I find it helps me get through a workout to know how close to being done with it I am so I can check-off progress, and yes, I know I’m weird.) 83 stairs is just a little over 4 flights. Which is less than I expected. And that’s arguably way too high, because…

Possibility 2: That only includes the bits of the stair where your feet go. What about the railings and support and stuff? I’m not sure what the Queen’s Rules on Converting Stair Climbs to Mass say (mostly because if the Queen has such rules the whole world needs to step back and take a serious look at what it’s doing with its life), but one could certainly argue that they should be taken into account as well.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find information about how much complete stairways weigh. One estimate comes from Redd Team: a 32-inch-wide, 4-step stair weights 145 pounds. But those are aluminum, which they say weighs 30% as much as steel. So to math it out, a steel stairway that’s 44 inches wide would weigh about 664 pounds per four steps. So a ton of stairs would only be 12 steps. The trouble with that analysis, however, is that the Redd Team’s staircase includes a landing, which may muck with the estimate. On the other hand, the stairs at my gym probably have more in the way of support and railings. I’ll go with it, since I can’t find any other information.

So there you have it: A ton of stairs is either 12 or 83 steps. I will finally be able to sleep now.


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Surviving Your Non-OCR Family at Holidays

If you want a comedic guide to surviving the holidays with family who are judgmental about OCR… well, you’ll have to look elsewhere. At Obstacle Racing Media, specifically, because they’ve just published a post that I wrote about exactly that topic. (Illustrated by amazing public domain photos of mold, impalement injuries, and magical fairies!) Check it out.

Magical fairy

This magical fairy, specifically.

And, if you’re here from Obstacle Racing Media, welcome! Hope you enjoy the place. I try to be weird, funny, and occasionally well-reasoned. Check out the OCR drinking game; people seem to like that. I’d also encourage you to subscribe, or follow me on Twitter, or like me on Facebook. (I’m really desperate to be liked.)

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