Tag Archives: race

I’m very fast

I can run really fast, faster than that guy over there, but I don’t want to get into it with him, like, I can’t just start racing him, there’d be a question of a fixed start, of me having had that advantage of knowing that we were racing. Whatever, I’m not going to go over and challenge him to a race. But I want to. Because I see him running his laps, I know, he’s probably not giving it his all, but just based on his form, I can get a good mental picture of what this guy looks like when he’s at a full sprint, and I’m pretty sure I can take him.


I could take most runners in a race. I could take most cyclists, too. Me on foot and anybody else on a bike. And yeah, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just speed, there’s the question of, for example, is the cyclist riding on a flat surface? Because if it’s going downhill, I can’t really compete with gravity. Also, how long is the race? Because if you’re looking long haul, big picture, again, I’d have to give it to the bike. But just like a quarter of a mile? A really flat one hundred meters? I think I could do it.

Not like professional bikers, mind you. I’m just talking regular bikers. What does that mean? Like no specialized biking gear, like matching shorts and biking shirts or anything like that. Also, if you have one of those five thousand dollar bikes, take it man, you could probably beat me on foot. But put me on that bike, even the scores a little, and I’d totally win.

I think that, under the right circumstances, I could beat a car. Very limited circumstances. I’m thinking specifically of the on-ramp to the Queensboro Bridge. It’s really steep, very short, and there’s a pedestrian lane right alongside. If I could somehow get my muscles to just start pounding out one hundred percent efficiency, yes, it would only be for the briefest amount of time, but I’m convinced that I could do it.

Again, no performance cars, OK. It has to be a model ideally from the mid to late 1990s, something with good but not great fuel efficiency. And I’m not looking for bumper-to-bumper traffic, but just some regular traffic, just so the driver has to do a little more than simply gun it up that ramp, just a few other drivers, some very mild obstacles. I’d totally do it. I could totally run faster than that car. I’m really a very fast runner.

It’s not always a race

I went for a run in the park last week. There’s this loop around, it twists and snakes, with just the right amount of hills. It’s nice, because I can run uninterrupted, I don’t have to worry about stopping for any traffic lights or cars. It’s just pure rhythm, and after a while I can sometimes get into this trancelike state.


It’s kind of like when I write, or when I’m reading or watching TV. One of my arms or legs will start tapping on the floor or rocking at my side. Eventually the movement takes over to the point where I’m not even thinking about it anymore. It’s just happening, it’s like a clock, precise in its beat. And whatever I get out of tapping or rocking back and forth, I get it to a much larger extent when I’m running, because I can do it for these dedicated stretches of time.

But last week anyway, I was running by myself, my speed is always pretty constant, all of the sudden I heard someone coming up on my left. That’s OK, it happens. It’s a huge park in a huge city and there are tons of people trying to do their thing. My thing is, whenever this happens, my rhythm and my pace can get thrown out of whack.

I heard someone else coming up behind me and my first reaction was to crank it up a notch. Obviously I don’t really want to do this. I’m not trying to make a race out of everybody that happens to be running faster than me at the park. But even though I didn’t see him yet, he was already in my head. My speed and my stride were calculated in relation to my position in a fixed space. Now I had another body in motion right at my side, and I got a sort of velocity vertigo.

I could no longer tell how I was supposed to be running. I wanted to just keep at it the way I was keeping at it, but I couldn’t tell if I was going slower now or faster. Eventually he broke into the field of my peripheral vision. He was running faster, and I might as well have just let him get ahead, far away from me, maybe I’d be able to get back into my groove.

But no sooner did he overtake me than he jerked to the right, so that he was now running directly in front of me. And then, I’m not sure if I was even perceiving it correctly at first, maybe my running was still a little out of whack, but it’s almost like this guy was slowing down. I kind of matched my speed a little bit, so I was running behind him, maintaining a little distance, and yeah, he definitely must have slowed down, because after a quarter mile or so, I was breathing a lot easier, almost like I was cooling down.

And so it’s like, what the hell man? You sprinted in front of me just to slow down? That’s like running rule number one. If you’re going to make that much of an effort to pass somebody, you’d better make sure that you can sustain that speed for a long time. No, it’s not an exact science. And like I said, when people start running close to each other, there’s definitely some sort of a gravity thing going on, people’s speeds get messed up, bodies are pulled toward or backward.

But then to get directly in front of me? I made my own snap judgment. I thought, OK, if I pass this guy, are we racing now? Was he going to try to steal the lead once more? This was all way more than I had anticipated dealing with when I left the house, but I didn’t have many choices. It was either risk a race, or accept my new, slower run, all to avoid a potentially awkward impromptu competition.

It shouldn’t be this difficult. It’s probably not this difficult. I’m pretty sure that I’m making something out of nothing. Not everything’s a challenge, right? Not everything has to be a race.

But as I stole ahead of him once more I had to fight the urge to look back, not all the way, definitely no eye contact, but a kind of sideways glance, a very subtle communication, like nice try man. No, that could have provoked him, maybe he would have gunned it once more, and I still had a few miles left, miles that I needed that energy for. I stared straight ahead, concentrated on my breathing. Pretty soon it was just me again, and then after that I was back in the zone, just the park, just running, until that guy wasn’t in my head anymore, until there was nothing in my head anymore, nothing but my breathing, my pace, the little pulses of pleasure shooting through my body each time my feet hit the pavement.

Sorry, I can’t eat all of those hotdogs

I want to make it clear that, when I had said months ago that I would eat a hotdog for every person that donated to my race fund, I honestly wasn’t expecting such an outpouring of generosity from my family members, my friends, the friends of friends, it’s really funny how Facebook just kind of decides for you which of your posts will languish in obscurity while others, it’s like everybody sees them, your cousin, you cousin’s roommate’s mom, that mom’s sister, her kids.


Again, to all of those people that freely gave, I’m humbled, I truly appreciate it. But nobody could’ve expected that to go viral, and there’s no way I’m going to be able to eat all of those hotdogs, it’s not physically possible. So everyone, thank you, but it’s not going to happen. And the money’s already gone, the foundation cashed everything in once the race was over.

I get it, it is kind of a let down. If I were in your position, I’d feel cheated too. You saw something on the Internet, a random guy promising to eat a hotdog for every donation, you thought, that’s something I’d like to see, something I’d like my money to help finance. So thanks, and I’m just looking at the list here, Mike B. from Chicago, I really appreciate the two dollars you donated, that was cool of you, but just try to picture those two dollars going to help some poor kids somewhere, some poor, sick kids.

And, you know, I’m not trying to take away from your donation, but how far did you think that two dollars was going to go? I mean, if you’re donating two dollars to charity, and part of that donation comes with a hot dog, it’s not like I’m doubting your intentions. Or, you know what? Maybe I am doubting your intentions. You weren’t in it for the charity at all, were you?

Whenever you make a donation that comes with a gift, it’s never worth it. Like donate one hundred dollars and we’ll give you this charity t-shirt. If it were really about the t-shirt, I could’ve gone online had them screen printed. So stop harassing me about the money, OK? Because I’ve already told you, it’s gone.

And no, I wasn’t totally full of shit, I was planning on eating some hot dogs. Obviously, like I’ve said, I couldn’t have imagined my plea for donations to go viral. You think I chose for this to happen? Come on, in terms of stuff that I’ve put on the Internet, this “hotdog for every donation” campaign ranks probably in the bottom tier of things that I would’ve wished to have gone viral.

Like maybe some of my writing, some of these blog posts, I would’ve picked any one of these to have gotten even a fraction of the attention as my hotdog stunt kicked up. Maybe some publishing house could’ve gotten in touch with me, “Wow Rob, you’re a great writer, here’s a book deal.” But no, I’m stuck here getting threatened with a class-action lawsuit from a bunch of Internet strangers that paid an average of a dollar-thirteen to see another Internet stranger get himself sick from eating too many hotdogs.

Except for that one donor who gave over a grand. I don’t understand your angle, pal. I mean, maybe if I was super, mega rich, this might seem like a really twisted way at buying a laugh. Was it a mistake? Did your credit card get charged and you haven’t figured it out yet? Because even if it was on purpose, my original bet was one hotdog per donation, regardless of how much you donated.

Or maybe you really care about the kids, I have no idea. Look, I ran the race, you guys all donated. Can’t we just leave it at that? Is it really necessary for me to shovel down over four thousand hot dogs? Where would I get four thousand hotdogs anyway? I wouldn’t be logistically capable of cooking them all, serving them, let alone getting them down my throat. Just, I’m going to change my email address, OK? Just, leave me alone, I’m off the Internet for a while, all right?

Let’s race!

You want to race? I’m always racing, people, groups of people, I can’t help it. I’m just so competitive. Like one time I was playing basketball and these guys on the other side of the court challenged me and my friends to a game of basketball. Like I said, very competitive, which, when we’re talking about basketball anyway, all of the competitiveness in the world wasn’t going to help. We got crushed. It was humiliating. And not really entirely my fault, anyway, not totally, Frank missed the majority of his shots, when he wasn’t getting blocked.

But even though basketball in this case happened to be a race to twenty-one points, yes, I’m talking about a race, race. Right after the game, and maybe I should have cooled down a little bit, maybe I should have just taken that high-five from the other team’s big guy because, yeah, I guess it was gracious at the time, but I couldn’t. “Let’s race!” I started getting in their faces.

And not the big guy, although, he did surprise me, how quick and light on his feet he was for a big man. And it was like that Sandra Bullock football movie, the big guy was like, hey man, I actually don’t like being called big guy. And I was like, sure thing big man. But I was just trying to get in his head. Again, I probably shouldn’t have discounted him entirely, making fun of him for accepting the challenge in the first place. Because like I said, he was pretty quick.

Not quick enough, because he didn’t win. But let’s be honest, he was never really in the running, pun totally intended, like running, get it? No, it was the little guy with the crew cut who looked like he might be the fastest. “What are you talking about race? Who’s got the next game?”

I got right in this kid’s face, like you’re not going to accept? Fine, I’ve got to make you accept. I threw the ball over the tall fence on the other side of the park, and while he was busy being all, “What the hell man?” I was like, “Come on, what are you scared? You little baby? You little scardey cat? Buck-buck buckaw!”

It worked, he took the bait, although it was a little dramatic, the way he ripped his shirt off, easy there Turbo, it’s entirely possible to run a race without taking your shirt off. But, whatever, if his intended effect was to intimidate me by showing off how ripped he was, like totally in shape, very cut, then yeah, I’ll admit it, it was slightly unnerving, I was caught just a little off guard, like shit, I had better win this race, like how did he get those bumpy muscles under his ribs so well defined? He’s got to be doing something besides cardio. I hope he’s not a runner.

“So what are we doing, like laps around the park? Four? Five?” It was the big guy asking the questions, and I was like, “Take it easy big man. This is between me and Turbo over here.” I was actually calling him Turbo all game, like trying to get in his head, but I don’t know, my whole smack-talking game, one, it’s much more effective when my team is solidly in the lead, and two, it just wasn’t really on that day, I don’t think it’s ever really on. But we’re never getting pummeled that badly, and I guess that was my lesson to learn, on shutting my mouth with the amateur smack-talk when I’m getting destroyed by this team of semi-pro guys, just all really built, like not everybody as built as Turbo, but man, all really pretty cut.

“Go!” and that was it. Turbo wasn’t a runner, it turned out, so you know, I stayed with him for the first three laps, just to make sure he wasn’t saving anything for the end, and then on that last lap I took off. Like I got so far ahead at one point I even turned around, started running backwards, I was like, “Is that all you’ve got Turbo? Ha!”

And yeah, that was all Turbo had. But the big guy, I think I mentioned already, he gave me a little scare, he definitely saved a little something for the end, and so I had to abandon my smack-talk, which sucked, because this was exactly the type of blowout that would’ve made even my talk sound like it was smack, like smacking. Smacking talk? No. You see what I mean?

I won, barely, and I was way too out of breath by the time I crossed the finish line to do any sort of a convincing gloat. “Whatever man,” Turbo was being a sore loser, “Just go and get my ball.” And I was like, “What? Loser gets the ball.” And he was like, “Says who? You threw it!”

But I refused. And he didn’t really have a choice, he had to hop the fence, a big one, like two stories tall maybe. On the other side it was just trash, just like a weird space between the neighboring building. And he jumped down and tiptoed around all the garbage to his ball, he was like, “Fuck man! It landed on a piece of glass!”

Yeah, that kind of sucked, it was all deflated. But he was behind a fence, so what was he going to do? I had like a good minute, minute and a half head start, and by the time he made it back to this side, I was gone.

Movie Review: 42

42 is a hard movie to review. I feel bad saying anything negative because the subject matter, the real life struggle of the first black Major League Baseball player, it’s so important. Seeing in film where we’ve come from as a nation, where we’re at right now, how we got here, how much further we have to go, it’s everything you think it would be: inspiring, uplifting, motivational. But at the same time it’s big Hollywood making a huge big Hollywood biopic (I don’t even know how you pronounce biopic. Is it bio-pic? Bi-opic?) And Hollywood gives us everything you’d think it would give us.


You get a big star, not in the guy who played Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman,) but in Harrison Ford, playing the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, a guy named Branch Rickey. It took me a good fifteen minutes to even recognize that it was Harrison Ford, and when I finally did, all I could think was, Jesus, Star Wars VII is going be terrible. In preparation for this role, I imagine Ford went to the public library and checked out a book titled, How to Act as a No-Nonsense 1940s Cigar-Chomping Baseball Team Owner for Dummies. You could do this yourself. Say something in your normal voice right now. Now make it two octaves lower. Now add a little rasp. Bingo.

You get the sweeping score. The music was like the themes from Superman, Jurassic Park, and ET all rolled into one epic soundtrack, then made just slightly more generic, and finally added way too liberally throughout the course of the film. Yeah, I get it, a huge orchestra overlay felt right as Robinson walked onto Ebbets Field for the first time, but that grand music lost a little of its luster used on top of Robinson taking his first integrated shower in the locker room.

You get a real life story that’s kind of flattened out somewhat. Everything’s just a little too much and not enough all at the same time. The dialogue felt forced; I can’t imagine anyone talking the way that these characters speak. And I’m not referring to the vitriol, the large doses of racist hate, always accentuated with heavy usage of those hard n-words. It’s the conversations that the main characters have amongst themselves. Every sentence sounded like it was written as a potential one-liner for a commercial. Cheesy stuff like, “The world’s not so simple anymore. Maybe it never was,” “The world is waiting for us,” or, “It doesn’t matter what I believe, only what I do.”

And then there’s the tricky subject of race, of our country’s racial history, of its continuing impact on society. Even in this seemingly innocent tale of clearly good vs. blatantly evil, the way that this story is told is still somebody’s point of view of American history. The movie opens up with Mr. Rickey shocking a bunch of midlevel managers, telling them that he’s going to bring a black baseball player to the big leagues.

I felt similar pangs of discomfort when I saw Lincoln a few months ago. It just feels like Hollywood, in trying to reach out to audiences both black and white, in trying to portray certain real struggles in our history, it can’t help but come off as patronizing. In a way, this movie isn’t just about what Jackie Robinson did for baseball, for America, but it’s about what a bunch of white guys allowed Jackie Robinson to do for baseball, for America.

There’s a scene after Jackie and Rachel Robinson have their baby where the title character gives this monologue standing in front of the newborn. He talks about how his dad left him when he was six months old, how this time it’s going to be different, how this baby is going to know who his dad is. I couldn’t help but imagine Hollywood as this big predominantly white institution almost giving a public service announcement to the black community about parenting. Which … is it OK? I have no idea. I don’t claim any authority on race relations. President Obama has made similar remarks; so why do his sound more genuine?

Ultimately this movie is fine for what it is, which is something pretty much readymade to be shown in high schools across the country whenever teachers feel like phoning it in for the day. It’s a movie aimed at general audiences on the widest level imaginable. It’s an important subject, almost impossible to believe that this stuff happened not even a hundred years ago. Despite all of its big-budget flaws, it made me think, about America, about race, about how far we’ve come since segregation, about how, as a white person, how many black people do I really know?

Are we really an integrated society? I kept thinking about Jim Crow, about Civil Rights, about how during World War II, black and white men served together, died together. All of that must have forged connections, real human connections that served as some sort of a foundation for the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. But what do we have now? Why does it feel like so much is still separate? Maybe this generation is lacking in a huge event bigger than race, something like a World War or a national protest movement to really break down racial barriers.

Or maybe we’ll never really get there, maybe it’s always going to be this continuing conversation, people making movies, always reintroducing our history to the present day. In this regard, any movie that makes these questions relevant, important, I think it’s a success, not to mention a tribute to an incredible man and his inspiring story.