Tag Archive: downtown


Pizza race number

So one week after I partook in a bike race by mistake, I found myself in another race this weekend.  This time, my entry was entirely on purpose.  And completely impulsive.

Because I’m surrounded by avid runners who take their sport very (too?) seriously, I’d been swept up with all sorts of talk about running.  I fucking loathe running.  I find it the dullest, most tedious athletic activity on the planet.  After all, per “the rules,” one should only run if being pursued; and one should only run fast enough to evade capture.  Everything else – fuck that noise.

So what the fuck was I thinking on Thursday when I opened my email and read an article about a foot race around Tompkins Square Park on Saturday?

This race was called the New York Pizza Run.  Apparently, this was the fourth year it’s been run, but this was the first I’d ever heard of it.  But unlike other races, this had a splendid twist to it.

The race comprised 4 laps around the perimeter of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.  At the completion of each lap, you had to devour one slice of pizza before you could commence to the next lap.  At the end of the fourth lap, you cross the finish line and you’d have 2.25 miles in the books.

Two-and-a-quarter miles, four laps around a small park, three slices of pizza.  That sounded so goddamn ridiculous, there was no way I couldn’t not do it.  And so I signed up.

But I also invited my runner friends.  The ones who run multiple marathons a year.  The ones who are constantly training for some triathlon or other.  The ones whose every conversation at every party is about running.  It was as if to say, “Hey, you guys, I’m doing a foot race, I’m one of you guys now!”

Except, I wasn’t, of course.  This was just running around stuffing our faces with pizza.  TOTALLY NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH.  Not within a million miles of being in the same league.  If they were the NFL, I was tossing around a Nerf ball trying to be cool.  “I’ve got not time for jokes, bro.”

Hardly anyone even acknowledged getting my email asking them to join me in this ludicrous run.  Not that I gave a shit because I was going to do this run with or without them.

So Saturday came, and I took the train down to Astor Place and walked the four blocks to Tompkins Square Park.  I might’ve even sprinted a couple of blocks.  Gotta warm up, get loose.  This is a race, after all.  (barf)

I checked in to the race, and got a race number.  Ooooh, a number, this is serious shit.  Then I looked to my left and saw the professionally-crafted start line on the sidewalk of in the middle of 7th Street.  SO OFFICIAL, you guys.

Pizza Start Line

And of course this was exactly the sort of race that draws participants who dress up, run goofy, and take the piss out of the whole running thing.  There was a girl dressed in a banana suit, another dressed in a pizza costume, another in a Superman outfit.  Shit, even I ran with baggy knickers but that’s because that’s all I had.

Shortly before the start, a friend from work actually took me up on my offer and joined me for this race.  Yay, somebody to run with!  Except he ran a fucking marathon this past spring, so, you know… I figured he was going to just lap me at some point.  He’s fit as a fiddle, I’m fat and slow, it’s inevitable.

Pizza3So we lined up along the chalked line, and without much fanfare, the race was on.  This was not a closed course.  We were simply running on the cobbled sidewalk around Tompkins Square Park.  That meant we had to swerve around the homeless.  We had to take evasive action from oncoming hyperaggressive city moms with their massive strollers that were not.moving.out.of.the.way.because.fuck.you.runners.  We had to run around tourists (those fucking, wandering guys).

Oh yeah, and at the end of each lap, we had to wolf down some pizza.  And it seemed a real goddamn shame to have to go all Joey Chestnut on these incredible slices.  Sure, by the time we got to them, they weren’t warm any longer, but holy shit, they were delicious.  They were supplied by Cer Te, and they were quintessential New York margherita pizzas.  Ultra thin crust, sweet fragrant tomato sauce, large discs of melted mozzarella, and slivers of basil on top.

Mmmm pizzaThe rule was that you couldn’t run with the slice of pizza.  Before you were allowed to start your next lap, you had to eat the whole slice.  You were permitted to run-and-chew, which is what I tried on lap 2, and that turned out to be another in a string of poor decisions.  Trying to run with a bolus of half-chewed pizza in my fat gob meant that I choking on bits of pizza that would go down the wrong tube.  When your mother taught you to not run around with a mouthful of food, she was right.

When I got to the end of the third lap, I paused before I took that slice of pizza.  Three slices of pizza on any day would be more than I would typically eat.  Three slices while trying to run – that was bullshit.  But I had one lap to go and my friend had started to take off for his final lap.  I grabbed the final slice, stuffed it in my mouth, slugged some water, and staggered on to the final lap.

When I reached the finish line – yes, it was also drawn out in chalk – there wasn’t any over-the-top fanfare.  There wasn’t any big noise or confetti or anything grandiose.  (It’s a fucking pizza run, what do you want, jeez)  Just a lot of laughter, a lot of high fives, a lot of beaming smiles.  And for me, a slight sense of “huh.”  Somewhere between “well, that didn’t suck” and “that was pretty awesome.”

And that was it.  Four laps and three slices later, we were done.  It was hilarious, it was ridiculous, it was oddly satisfying, it was brief, and no one threw up.  We got a bit of a workout, and we were well fed.

My first ever foot race, only my second time ever running outdoors.  I was never going to come in first, but if I didn’t come in last, that was my greatest achievement of the day.  You know what, scratch that – the fact that I even ran this thing was my greatest achievement of the day.  And if it wasn’t so ridiculous, there’s no way I’d have done it.

Count me in next year.  Because when there needs to be a futile and stupid gesture done on somebody’s part, I’m just the guy to do it.

 

 

When shit happens, run like hell

 

 

So, a supermegafreakohurricane swept into the New York area and soundly kicked everyone’s ass.  Some asses got kicked much harder than others.  Almost in biblical terms, the hurricane smote the Jersey Shore, possibly for its past transgressions but I don’t wanna appear insensitive.  The financial district in downtown New York also bore a major brunt of the storm.  Farther north and inland, it seemed a bit different.  It appeared that if you got away without much harm, you were inconvenienced at best.  But if you got any damage, you got royally fucked.  No middle ground, it seems.

My family and I got incredibly fortunate.  After several harrowing hours of pounding winds on Monday night, we came through the next day with only a loss of electrical power to the house.  Everything else remained as it was.  The cars were covered in leaves, and the yard just littered with small branches, but that was about it.  Holy shit, did we dodge a big one.

Without power, we were fortunate to have friends around the corner who’d offered us refuge in their homes with some essentials – warmth, good food, and PAH-WOAHHRRRR!!!  And gobs of wi-fi.  ZOMG, wi-fi-nom-nom-nom-nom-nom!!!

Even as I write this, I’m shamelessly leeching my friend’s wi-fi to post it on the blog.  Clearly, I’ve got my priorities in order.

The first day or two was spent being resigned to trying to learn just how fucked the New York area got after the storm.  When I got tired of watching the dreariness of TV news, I turned my attention to seeking out storm porn online.  I did nothing but stare at a screen and stuff my fat fucking face.  By the end of the second day, I could feel the physical and emotional atrophy starting to take hold.

So I resolved do something I’d never done before in my entire life – go for a run.

Now, the idea of going on a run for exercise or for fun is something that is as alien to me as a W is to Jets fans.  I mean, what the fuck is that all about?  According to Velominati rules – of which I am admittedly in constant violation more often than not, but remain in reverence – one “should only run if being chased…  [and] one should only run fast enough to prevent capture.”  Makes perfect sense to me.

I decided to go on a run because I had no other choice.  I couldn’t go another day without actually getting off my fat ass to do something.  My gym had been submerged under the deluge from the Long Island Sound.  Like the idiot shithead that I am, I left every single one of my perfectly functioning bicycles (yes, I have 8 bikes; they all do different things, don’t judge) in my garage that became entirely inaccessible when the loss of power knocked out the electric garage door opener.  Real first world problem, you know.

What was left for me, but to strap on a pair and give this running thing a try.

On the morning of the third no-power day, I laced up my sneakers, plugged my ears up with old school metal (you sure as fuck can’t go running to something like The Cave Singers, can you?), ran out the door.

After 100 yards, I had to walk back 10 feet to pick my spleen up off the road.  I thought I was going to DIE.  My lungs were on fire and every joint in my legs throbbed.  After a mere 100 or so yards.  I am such a fucking fat ass, I was thoroughly disgusted with myself.

I took to walking.  After a few minutes, and having some of the sheer embarrassment drain away, I tried running again.  I lasted one block.  Fuck, now I’m really gonna die, I thought.  I got lightheaded.  I might’ve puked if I didn’t have an empty stomach at the time.

Fuck it, I walked a bit more, then ran a bit more.  Then walked a bit more, then ran a bit more.  And because I’m not only a fat piece of shit, I’m also a horribly shallow piece of shit.  When I saw someone approaching, or when there was someone passing in a car, I’d stop walking and start running.  As such as they were out of sight, I’d have to clutch my chest, and wheeze down to a walk again.  Walk, run, walk, run, fight with the earphones falling out of my head, walk, run, walk, run, fumble with earphones some more, walk, run, goddamn these fucking earphones, run some more.

Not quite the excursion I’d imagined.  After 45 minutes of this bullshit, I ended back home.  If I die now, at least I die at home, not along some suburban road like some sad fuck.

The Velominati were right.  Fuck this.

Which is why I found it comical when the big debate came up about whether or not the New York City Marathon should be run at all, coming less than a week after Hurricane Sandy dropped a huge steaming dump all over the city.

Holy shit, how dare they even think of running this thing!  This is such a crass event to hold so soon after such a devastating event!  So horrible, think of the humanity!

Mind you, these are all from people who have lights on in their houses and don’t have roofs torn off their homes.

I say, shut the fuck up and let them run this marathon.

Listen, if 35,000 assholes want to run all over New York City in the state that it’s in, fuck ‘em, let them do it.  Don’t alter any of the routes: if part of the marathon route is underwater or if there’s a power line in their way, let them run go right through it.  You want some excitement to break the dreariness of waiting for repairs to your house?  Go watch 35,000 dickheads run through raw sewage and live wires in Brooklyn.

Not good enough?  Fine, we can easily turn the whole thing into a humanitarian effort.  You wanna run this stupid race?  Fine, you have to carry 20 lbs of relief supplies and distribute them as you ferret your way through the city.  Stop being a selfish dickhead and make yourself useful, for fuck’s sake.

Thing is, cancelling the marathon or moving it to another date or place isn’t at all feasible on short notice.  Millions had already been spent – by sponsors and participants – on this event.  You don’t just toss all that out because it makes some self-righteous schmucks feel better about themselves.  The 35,000 runners have probably been training hard as hell for this – a once-in-a-lifetime event for some.  Who the fuck are you to tell them that they’ve been training for nothing because you wanna feel better about yourself.

It also doesn’t mean that just because the marathon’s in gear, absolutely no one is getting any help or disaster relief.  Trust me, people are going to continue getting help, you whiny bitches.

So, fuck it, let’s all go running after a storm.  Because really, is there really a better time to go do something remarkably stupid?