Category Archives: Metapost


“Mourning” is a melodramatic way to describe the reason for my recent blogging absence, but it’s not entirely incorrect.

There’s good news that I’ve been pursuing for a long time. Periodically, it comes closer, which both builds hope (Yay!) and requires extra investment of time and often money (Boo!). None of these periodical closer-comings have resulted in the good news actually happening, which is a bit soul-eating. My absences was prompted by a pair of closer-comings, one of which required a spectacular time investment and the other of which was the closest of all the closer-comings, and the duo—combined with the net effect of years of close-comings-but-not-arrivings—broke me.

This isn’t, of course, related to obstacle course racing. But, well, the OCR world can be awful when you’re down. I don’t need other people to tell me how epic they are, and I don’t to be told how I need to work just a little bit more in order to be a real person—I need the work that I’ve done to actually pay off.

Inspiration is useless when what you actually need is for someone to get the fucking boot off your throat.

So I got out. And now, I’ve sort of put myself back together, and I’m sort of functioning again, and I’m sort of back.

I have a feeling I’m going to be focusing more on the intersection between generalized fitness and comedy than OCR—not that I’m abandoning the OCR world, but there are a lot of ways in which it’s not healthy for me.

We shall see.

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Filed under Commentary, Metapost, Obstacle Course Racing

So What Exactly is Fat Boy Big Wall, Anyhow?

Today is the 1 year, 2 month anniversary of this blog, roughly, which is the traditional time to look back and take stock of where you are and where you’re going. Right? If not, well, tough, I’m doing it anyhow.

I started this site because I was browsing at Barnes & Noble and saw a book—a sort of inspirational personal journey story about how someone got her (I think) ass off the couch and did a Spartan Beast or Ultra Beast or Mega Beast or Power Rangers Ninja Beast or something like that. I didn’t buy the book, and my subsequent searches haven’t found the book again, so I don’t have any actual detail about it.

I was of two minds in my reaction to the book. First, cool, someone wrote a book, and it’s about OCR, which I’m interested in, and it’s in a bookstore, which is neat. And second, ugh, because it’s an inspirational personal journey story that will inspire you to be inspired, and that’s a genre that just makes me cranky.

So my plan was to start my own site, which would be a demented comic take on the inspirational genre, with an OCR focus, and a long-term goal of turning it into a book. Yep, I’d like a book deal. Actually, I’d like about 50 book deals. I’ve had a book deal, and they’re not generally the ticket to easy street that people think they are.

There’s still some strains of that anti-inspirational focus, but as a main thrust of the blog it quickly fell by the wayside. I’m not really sure how to pull it off in the long term, or if a blog is really the right way to tackle it—I’ll freely admit that I’ve used this site for personal reflection, sometimes rambling in ways that amuse myself to see where those rambles go, and the anti-inspirational parody would probably need a lot more focus to pull off without becoming mind-boggling repetitive. Like, maybe even going so far as to create an alter ego to write as. Lots of effort—maybe worthwhile, but not really feasible for me at this time.

I’ve gone through my posts to roughly characterize them. If my counts are correct, there are 47 that I’d consider personal, 43 that I’d consider comedy, 25 that I’d consider commentary, and 22 that are event reports.

The “Personal” category is higher than I’d like, although I’m also not too concerned. On one hand, a lot of that is personal goal-setting, which I’m going to keep doing—in addition to being a comedy OCR blog, I’m hoping this will help to keep me honest and achieve my fitness goals. (Be inspired! Be inspired now, goddammit!) A lot of the more personal posts came in the early days of the blog, so the focus has already shifted in a direction that I’m more satisfied with.

The “Event Reports” category is also kind of personal, but I’m okay with that. I try to keep the information I include to that which is noteworthy, or at least interesting or amusing, so I’ll keep doing them.

“Comedy” and “Commentary” are the most interesting parts to me. First off, the line between the two is pretty fuzzy, which I’m happy with. It means I’m amusing (at least to myself) when I’m ranting, or being thoughtful (relative to my standard state) when I’m trying to be funny. Some good examples include “The Fiesta Bowel Has a New Sponsor,” “Why I’m Pro-Litter,”or “Giving the News about the New OCR TV Show an Arctic Enema.”

I’m really surprised that I enjoyed writing the commentary/nonfiction pieces as much as I did. I think there’s a couple reasons for that. First off, I don’t feel any pressure to comment on “the big news of the day.” Instead, I pick topics that amuse me.

Secondly, most of the topics that I chose are ones that I’m interested in but don’t have any personal stakes in. It’s a bit more of an academic interest. I’m definitely not arguing for the sake of arguing—I really hate the modern state of discourse, where you stake out your position and defend it without any regard for fact and anyone who questions anything you say is committing treason and anyone who you question is a liar and an idiot. Instead, not to be too immodest, I can be more nuanced. I like to look at a situation and say, this side is being silly here and here, and this side is being silly here and here, and here and here are things that are functioning exactly the way our capitalist system is designed, and it might be nice to curb that impulse but it’s not really practical, and so on.

I’m also not compelled to only make arguments that fit into a tweet, which is nice.

This definitely isn’t a news site—other places do that better than I could without quitting my job and doing this full-time, and I’m not terribly interested in a lot of the news anyhow. But I do harbor some delusions that I can introduce some analysis that goes a bit deeper than the hysterical hand-wringing I see on most OCR Facebook groups, and approach discussions from a somewhat different than typical angle. Maybe even raise the tone of discourse in the industry slightly, before lowering it again with jokes about sharting.

I’m still not sure if that leads directly to a book deal. Probably not, but that’s okay. Things will work out. Or they won’t. Things are like that.

(Hmm. If I keep spouting off wisdom like that, maybe I should forget about the book deal and start a cult.)

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Filed under Metapost, Uncategorized

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

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

Monthly goals: Lack of Commitment

It was another rough month for goals. I wish I understood… not why, things have been so rough, but how to overcome the reason. There hasn’t been much in the past couple of months to be excited about—the fitness goals were kind of abstract concepts without any real stakes. And while I don’t want to talk much about the career here, it’s going unwell, and has been for many years. So how do you stay positive when there’s nothing to aim at?

Hopefully this month will be better—I’ve got a race, at least, and maybe two. It doesn’t solve the underlying life issue, but it at least serves as a distraction.

Anyhow, last month’s goals:

Me at top of the rope

I can’t believe I climbed the whole thing!

Rope Climbing: Technically I didn’t make this goal until two days late, but I’m going to count it. And here’s documentation! Incidentally, if you want to learn, here’s the Youtube video that I used to figure out the technique. It’s not as hard as I thought it was, but I’m very glad I practiced—much like climbing a wall, climbing a rope is a weird sensation and puts you in a strange position that you’re not accustomed to. It took me about three times practicing before I actually got the technique down.

Handstand: I didn’t even really work on this much at all.

Running: This was weird. I got up to 12K, which is a record for me, and then for the next two weeks absolutely none of my runs worked—like I couldn’t force myself to run more than a couple minutes. The goal was 15K. Probably the general bummedness played a big part in that.

Sloth Walk: Goal was 15 rungs; I got up to 11. I really didn’t work it a whole lot.

Weight: I wanted to undo the damage of the previous month and get down to 250. It didn’t happen.

My goals for August:

Weight: Drop the 7-day average to 253.

Rope Climb: Since I can theoretically climb a rope now, I’d like to not have to do those 30 burpees at the Spartan Super in two weeks. I’m not sure if it’ll happen, since the race has a couple complications (starting in waist-deep mudwater and having at least some degree of fatigue when it happens), but I think the odds should be about 50-50.

Enjoyment: I want to have fun at the Spartan Race. And also the Badass Dash, which I haven’t technically registered for, but I’m about to. This is not as given as you might expect: I didn’t really enjoy the Indianapolis Sprint. I’m frankly kind of scared: We’ve finally settled into a mostly-dry weather pattern (with the exception of yesterday) in Chicago, but what if we get a few days of rainstorms leading up to the race and the course condition is as bad as Indy was? Indy took me 4 hours; projecting would make the Super take 8. At some point, I could see myself doing an 8-hour challenge, but I frankly don’t want this to be it. I’m going to try to have as much a positive attitude leading up to the event and at it, and not worry too much about running at the fastest possible speed I can do.

Climbing: This goal will be two-pronged: First, there are two brand-new problems at my level within the “cave” section of the wall that I’d like to master. And then, I’d like to climb something green. (Green is the color of the routes that are one level of difficulty up from where I am at—so my goal is to climb at least one route at that level.)

Monkey Bars: 40 rungs. Sure!

Dad’s Little Book of Rage: OK, this will take some explanation. I’ve got a project that’s been mulling around in the back of my head for a while, a book that I’ve written but that requires illustration. The illustration is an issue, as I don’t know how to draw. I stumbled upon the idea of making construction-paper collages, and I’ve done a few, and… I don’t hate it. So my goal for the month is to knock out 15 of these illustrations.


Filed under Goals, Metapost

Monthly Goals: Huh?

It’s been two months since I’ve established my monthly goals, since most of what I was interested in was centered around the Citi Field and Indianapolis Spartan Sprints that took place mid-May. And since then I’ve been crazy-busy with work, traveling for those two races, and a bit ill for a while (happily, I now seem to feel better than I have in quite a while). As a result, I don’t really have any memory of what my goals were or how I did. So this post will be an adventure! (Yikes, that’s the saddest sentence I’ve ever written. It’s worse than the time I inadvertently described “riding on the CTA Yellow Line” as an adventure.)


Weight: Goal was to have a 248.214 7-day average on May 9. As has happened throughout the year, I didn’t make that goal—although I did drop a little bit of weight from the start of the goal period. In other words, there’s been progress this year, but it’s been frustratingly slow.

Running: My goal was to up my long training run to 10K, which I did accomplish. Though I regretted it; my training was overall a bit less than I’d hoped, so even though I finished the 10K, the last couple were absolute pain. Time was 57:25, which is a PR (in that it was faster than the one other time I ran a 10K.) Trouble is, after the Sprints, I have been resting and need to rebuild the running endurance.

Obstacles: I wanted to do a burpee-free run at Citi Field with unassisted wall climbs. That didn’t happen. I made it over the 6-foot wall on my own, but not the 8-footers, and I had burpees on the rope climb and spear throw.

A Long Bike Ride: Buwhahahahahahahaha! I had the idea of biking round trip from my place to the south end of the Lakefront Path to the Chicago Botanic Gardens to my place—probably a 60-70 mile ride—as an easy recovery-type thing to do after the races. Given poor weather, business, illness, and the fact that I haven’t been able to do nearly enough biking to build up to the backsideal fortitude to do that ride, it was a non-starter from the beginning.

Climbing: There were a pair of problems I was hoping to solve at the bouldering gym. One I nicknamed the brain swinger, since it started with a bit of a swing and ended with a tricky brain-shaped grip. That’s the one that I completed. The other, which skirted the corner of the cave but never really went in, got re-set pretty early in the goal period so I did not complete it.

Handstand: I wanted to be able to kick-up to a handstand against the wall, which didn’t really happen. But it sort of did. There were a few times when I kicked my legs up and they did actually hit the wall, but I couldn’t control the movement and fell out immediately. So I can’t really count that, even though it is progress.

My goals for June are:

Weight: My 7-day average this morning was 253.786. Let’s drop that to 248.786 by the end of the month.

Pants: I’ve got a pair of size 38 pants that have recently been slightly overly tight. It’s possible that they fit already, but I’d like to make sure they fit by the end of the month.

Handstand: The kick-up is too close to give up on; I’m pretty sure this will happen this month.

Monkey Bars: My gym has a 25-rung monkey bar setup, which I haven’t really used too much lately. My ultimate goal is to get down and back, but for this month I’m going to try to get 30 rungs total.

Running: In preparation for the Chicago Super (8+ miles), I need to get my running going again. 10K will be my official goal for the long run this month, but I’m hoping I can get a bit further than that. That’ll all depend on how my body feels, though—I also need to not hurt myself by trying to do more than I am really capable of.

Stability: I don’t know how this is going to work. But this year has been marked by 2 steps forward, 1 7/8 steps back—I’ve had some mini-emotional-breakdowns an average of every two or three weeks or so. As summer comes, things should be a bit easier—the ability to get outside is really helpful to me. This month, I’ll make an extra effort to control my emotions this month and keep my brain in a bit less destructive of a state.

Climbing: This one is yet to come and may not happen this month. I went climbing for the first time in a while yesterday—in fact, the entire gym had been reset since I’d been there last. Nothing really stood out as a good goal, though—I think most of the routes are due to be reset again in the next couple of weeks. So there may be a goal here in the next couple of weeks—we’ll see.

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Filed under Goals, Metapost