Loyal Blog Readers: Please Help Me Get Less Fat.

Happy New Year!!  Like the start of every other new year dating back to 2001, 2014 began with me making irrational commitments that I am unlikely to keep.  This year, I resolved to blog every week, to eat healthy, to be a more positive person, to get back into shape and to once and for all stop asking for things from other people.

What’s that you say?  “But, Rob.  You’ve never asked for anything from us before, and I love your blog so much that I would be willing to do anything to get you to write more or get back into shape.  And I do mean anything.”

Wow, you’re kind of a dirtbag, random internet reader, aren’t you?  It appears that we are on the same page, and because I’ve never asked you for anything before (other than your unfailing loyalty, an occasional facebook share or retweet, parenting advice, and money) now seems like a perfect time to hit you up for even more money!

http://www.crowdrise.com/freshairfundnychalf2014/fundraiser/robpollak (Pretty much click any link on my blog for more info.)

Before I get to the nitty-gritty details of just what I need from you, here’s a quick update on the end of 2013 (none of which should be to surprising if you a) have the internet, b) have a phone, c) know me personally, d) are the NSA, or d) stalk me and my family in some other way :  Anne and I welcomed our son Owen into the world on August 14th:

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Much like Owen, who has been growing steadily since August, my waist line (not pictured above) has been climbing its way up the growth chart.   That’s why I need your help!

Weight v Time

In an effort to reclaim what I once had – a perfect greek statuesque physique – I have committed to the NYC Half Marathon in the name of charity.  (Click here to donate!!)

Now, you may recall that I have made bold commitments like this in the past.  Three times I registered for the NYC marathon, and three times I failed to run further than 3 miles while training.  In each of those failed attempts, something was missing:  Outside forces to make me feel shame and guilt if I fail in my challenge.

If you hadn’t let me down so badly in those past efforts, here’s what I might have looked like crossing the finish line of the famed NYC Marathon:

Inline image 4Instead, I made it through about 1/30th of my training schedule, and most of those efforts looked very very sad.  Like this:

Runwalk

So in the name of charity, I am inviting you to be the physical embodiment of my shame.  Your heckling and jeering during training should push me to the finish line.  Because I know it will be nothing compared to the heckling you will spew upon me should I fail.

Picture it:  Every morning when I wake up at 6 am to brave the elements and log my miles, I will be thinking of you.  I will be counting my blessings that you were generous enough to give a little bit (a lot) of your hard-earned cash to me.

I mean, what could I possibly doing at 6 am other than going out for a run on a 9 degree day?  Not sleeping, of course.  It’s impossible to sleep with an infant at 6 am.

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So thanks so much!  (you dick…)

As always, each donation will earn you a valuable gift that I may or may not follow through on.  (Probably not if we’re being honest with each other).  In the spirit of the Olympics, you can achieve three levels:

Bronze Donor

– All donors who contribute any amount above $0 will receive a Rob Complains autographed drawing.  It will look something like this (autographed not pictured to maintain claims of authenticity):

Rob FAF

(That’s a door not a penis on the building, you sicko)

Silver Donor ($50 or more)

You will receive the entire bronze package PLUS:

– A phone call (or email if you’re scared to give me your digits) from me directly thanking you for your efforts.  I will not be offended if you send me straight to voicemail, but I won’t try to call back.  So, if you don’t answer, that’s really a win-win for everyone.

Platinum Donor (Contribute $100 or more)

You will receive the entire silver and bronze package PLUS:

– You may select the topic for one blog post that will appear on robcomplains.com within 4 weeks of your donation.

Holy S**t Donor Level (Contribute $500 or more)

– Wow.  Just tell me what you want from me.  It’s yours.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got to say.  I guess I should mention that I’m running on behalf of the Fresh Air Fund, an organization that does good things for people.

And in case you missed the 17,000 links posted about, here’s one more link to where you can donate:

http://www.crowdrise.com/freshairfundnychalf2014/fundraiser/robpollak

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A surefire way to offend a room full of pregnant woman

I learned a valuable lesson recently.  When dealing with pregnant women, it’s sometimes best to keep certain thoughts to yourself, even when those thoughts may be factually accurate and supported by science.

Let me explain.  A few years ago, before I discovered yoga, I fancied myself something of a runner.  I was no Dean Karnazes, but my weekly mileage often soared into the double digits.  I envisioned a future filled with health and happiness, jogging strollers and Gu packs, spandex onesies and body glide.

All those dreams disappeared one cruel day at the TriBeCa Equinox.  Fresh off a sub-60 minute 10-K, I set out to become the world’s chubbiest sprinter by employing a training theory called “Speed Work.”  To do speed work, you supposedly just start at a nice warm up pace and then add periods of sprinting followed by a nice easy cool down.  I did my first speed work session on a treadmill.  I began with a nice warm up at 6.0 MPH and, when the time was right, cranked that puppy up to 6.2.  Whoa baby!  I had that thing  humming!   I loved speed work!

I’m a very logical person, so the next week when I tried speed work, I thought I should progress to see whether I’d improved.  Indeed I had.  I did my short warm up at 6.0 MPH and then steadily increased the speed to about 100000 MPH.  Here’s a video of what happened:

About half way into my last lap of speed work, I pounded my foot into the treadmill belt and screamed out in pain.  Fine, it was more of a yelp.  Or a whimper.  But holy hell did it hurt.  I limped off the treadmill and immediately consulted a medical professional, WebMD, where I learned that I definitely had either cancer or scoliosis.

Some more research and a trip to an actual doctor confirmed my worst fears.  I had something called Morton’s Neuroma, a thickening of the nerves between the third and fourth toes.  Anne still questions the existence of this condition.

Although I am prone to exaggerate things, I hope you’ll believe me when I describe the pain.  It felt like there was a little pebble in my shoe and every time I took a step, the pebble caused me a slight degree of discomfort.  On some mornings, the pain got so bad that I would take one, or maybe even two Tylenol.  On the worst day, I had to use extra strength gel capsules.

You might be asking yourself, “why is Rob talking about Morton’s Neuroma?  How does this relate to offending pregnant women?”  Good question, and believe me, I know exactly what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “why is this jackass trying to predict what I may be asking myself right now.  He doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t know anything about me.  I wish he’d just write about yoga again.  Or interview Ryan again.  That guy was funny.”

Well it turns out that studies have shown that Morton’s Neuroma may be as painful as childbirth (refer to the section on symptoms).  Lucy Waite, a well-established blog commenter over at the Angry Orthopod summed it up best.  She said, “[The] only comparison [to Morton’s Neuroma” is natural child-birth, which I did four times.”

A comparison of pain - Morton's Neuroma and Child Birth - Drawing by Rob Pollak

Who knows if the pain caused by Morton’s Neuroma actually is anything like child-birth.  Lucy Waite, that’s who.  But in case you don’t believe her, then let me give you some helpful advice:  If you ever find yourself in a hypnobirthing class where scared pregnant women are discussing their fears about pain, just keep your mouth shut.  I promise you that they will not feel comforted when you say, “Actually, I’ve had a Morton’s Neuroma, and according to studies conducted by researchers at KimsFoot.Com, it is supposedly just as painful as child-birth.  I didn’t think it was so bad, actually.  In fact, a little cortisone should clear it right up.”

An Interview with me about running


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My friends at Hot Bird Running asked me to be the featured runner in their weekly “Interview with a runner” series.   Apparently every other runner in the world was too busy, so I agreed to do the interview.  If you found me through the Hot Birds, then check out my facebook page while you’re here.

Please note – this is not a humble brag.  It’s a 100% blatant brag tinged with self-deprecating humor.

If you enjoy the things that I do here (like hysterical commentary, hilarious stick figure drawings, and hackneyed charts and graphs), then you will like this interview.

Here’s a sneak preview:

A pie chart showing the reasons why I run by Rob Pollak.  Reasons Include:  So I won't be fat, too lazy to learn other exercises, to not die, to feel superior to fat people, jared from subway said i should, to gawk at fit pretty people, to eat more, ran once but have OCD so couldn't stop

I promise that if you click the link you won’t be disappointed.  Or you’ll be mildly disappointed.  Or completely disappointed.  How should I know what kind of shitty mood you’re in today.

Please note that I linked to the interview about 50 times.  But if you’re a moron and missed those embedded links, here’s a more obvious version, idiot:

http://www.hotbirdrunning.com/blog/2013/3/21/interview-with-a-runner.html

A Friendly Guide to the NYC Half Marathon

Even though I won’t be running the NYC Half Marathon this year, I’m a three-time finisher, so It’s my obligation to share my race secrets with the special few that NYRR has allowed into this year’s race.  They include a) A collection of the worlds best professional runners, b) Thousands of international runners, and c) Ten New Yorkers who were selected through a Hunger Games style lottery.

Good luck to you.  Here are some last minute pointers:

Carb loading rules.

Sure, trained professionals like my run coach friends, Meghan and Jessica at Hot Bird Running, may scold you when you eat 20,000 calories of spaghetti and meatballs mere hours before a race.  But who are you going to listen to?  A couple of certified run coaches who dedicated their lives to making you healthier and happier or the guy who draws funny stick figure pictures?

Exactly.  Go nuts, kids!

A stick figure eating spaghetti to carbo load for a half marathon cartoon by rob pollakThe Starting Line.

It’s chaos.  Seriously.  If you are planning to meet people at your starting corral, you may want to rethink that plan.  Every year, the set up has been different.  With last year being the worst because each stable area had its own set of bathrooms.  In theory this sounds amazing, but in practice, it meant that people waited in line for an hour while people already in the corral could cut the line.

This is also where I do my pre-race nerve-vomiting.

Cartoon by Rob Pollak about the bathroom line at the NYC half marathon

The course.  If you run Central Park often, you know what you’re in for.  If you’re an out of towner running the race for the first time, here’s a quick breakdown of the course.

Course Map:

A course map cartoon for the NYC Half Marathon - Cartoon by Rob Pollak

Miles 1-6 are in Central Park.  They changed the course slightly from when I ran it.  From the looks of the new map, the start will be slightly down hill until about the Mile 1 marker.  Then you will embark on “cat hill,” the first of many grueling tortures you will endure.  This hill is particularly awful because it’s a huge hill, then you get to the top, the road briefly flattens and then starts climbing again.  You will vomit.  It’s also about where your nipples will start to bleed.  Welcome to NYC!

Mile 2 will be awesome.  Look to your left for a sort of view of the Central Park reservoir.  If you ever get the chance to run around the reservoir, take it.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to berate parents pushing strollers and people on bikes, neither of which are allowed on the path.  Actually, I’m not sure if strollers are allowed or not.  If they are, apologies to that nice family that I called the C word for pushing a double wide stroller when I was sweating past them.  Yeah, that’s right.  I called them communists.

Mile 3 will be the worst part of the race, at least since Mile 2 and until you get to mile 4-13.  Mile 3 will be a combination of a big sweeping downhill around the northeast corner of the park.  That will flatten out and you will climb straight up a mountain in the back northwest corner.  You may notice that many people start to walk at this point.  Don’t be one of those people.  Listen to the volunteer standing there telling you to “stay inside the cones” and encouraging you that you’re almost to the top of the hill.

Pro Tip:  All of the lampposts in the park are labeled with the street number.  If you look at the bottom of the post, there will be a number that starts with two digits, like 90-01.  That means you’re at 90th street.  I have no idea what the 01 means.  Let’s just agree it means you’re number 1 to me.  Every twenty blocks is approximately 1 mile.  If you really start to struggle, count left foot strikes between posts.  Usually there are 10-20 strikes between posts.  I struggle a lot.

The light posts have information about streets on them in central park running cartoon by rob pollak

Mile 4 is the rolling hills of the west side of the park.  It’s terrible.  Every time you get a little break with a down hill, you head right back up a little uphill.  Look for my sister around mile 4.  She is nice.

During mile 5 and 6, you’ll be thinking, “get me the hell out of the park.”  Try not to start running faster.  You may get out of the park faster, but then you’re going to hate yourself by mile 9.

Mile 6-7:  The best part of the race!  You finally will hit the mean streets of Manhattan.  The road opens up and you can spread out and get away from that sweaty beast (me) who has been breathing down your neck for the last hour.  Lots of people will line the streets.  You’ll see huge buildings.  Your GPS watch will freak out and lose its signal and suddenly you’ll think that you’re running a 4:11 pace.  Enjoy the ride here because things are about to get pretty bad.

Mile 7-9.  At mile 7, you’ll turn right onto 42nd street.  The Big Apple, baby!  Riding high from seventh avenue, you are literally on top of the world at this moment.  You may think to yourself, “I can do anything!  This is so easy!  I’m a machine.”  Enjoy that feeling because as you turn right onto 42nd, you’re about to get blasted with a gale force wind coming off the Hudson River.

And as you amble over towards the West Side Highway, notice that they haven’t cut off traffic coming in the opposite direction.  So you’ll be inches away from angry New Yorkers smogging their cars in your face.  They will stare at you and berate you for making their drive take twice as long.  I know because before I ever ran the race, I once missed a tee time in NJ because I got redirected by those stupid runners.

Once you’re all the way west, they make you head back uptown for one block, which feels like you have to backtrack.  Also, the people disappear for this stretch of the race and it starts to become hard.  The Highway is exactly as it sounds:  Flat, boring, and trafficy.  Prepare for long stretches that are exactly the same.  Bring your ipod so you can suffer through this stretch with the musical stylings of Justin Bieber.  That’s how I managed.

Literally nothing changes for miles 8-12.  Except if I wake up in time, I’ll be on Murray street around Mile 11.5/12.  That’s where I live.  If you see me, say hi.

After Mile 12, the race goes underground into the Battery Park Underpass.  It’s dark and it echoes.  Someone will yell something stupid when you’re under there.  Don’t be that guy.

When you come out of the tunnel, you’re basically done.  Except you’re at the furthest point from everything else in New York.  So figure out a way to get home.  Last year, I ended up having to walk about 2.5 miles back to my apartment because I was a bad planner.  Don’t be a bad planner.

I guess, congratulations.  You’re a half marathoner.

Celebrate by eating enough calories of ice cream and bagels to negate any positive benefits of months of training.