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December 31, 2005

Tea Bag Karma

Good Earth tea bag quote of the day: "Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing." - Abraham Lincoln.

No kidding, that was on today's tea bag. Combined with the William James quote I had after a hard workout last week, I've had this crazy tea bag karma over the past couple of weeks - I'm like the Earl Hickey of tea drinkers.

As I've been reading people's resolutions this week, I think Lincoln's point is valid: It doesn't really matter what your goal for 2006 is. All that matters is that you are determined to succeed in reaching it. If you are determined enough, you'll make the appropriate changes in your life and/or training to progress toward that goal.

If you want to, you can use the old goal as a stepping stone to something even grander in the years to follow. As long as you have strong mental resolve, your chances of finding success are overwhelmingly positive.

So good luck to everybody in reaching their goals for 2006. I'll look forward to hearing about your progress.

On a completely unrelated topic, my wife and I have a tradition that dates back to before we were married, of doing a puzzle together on New Year's Eve. We used to do easy puzzles that we would finish in one night, but in recent years we have chosen increasingly challenging puzzles that have and taken us longer than a single night - either that or we're steadily becoming dumber on an annual basis.

Anyway, we spent about five hours on this one last night, and we're probably only 15% done. I'll post another picture as we get closer to finishing - but you can already tell the image, can't you?

Enough for now. Time to get back to the puzzle.

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December 30, 2005

Temptation Overload

Just a quick observation for a Friday...

I was in the employee gym today on my way to shower after running at my lunch hour. In the gym were two very overweight ladies - one waking on a treadmill and another making slow circles on the elliptical trainer.

We have 3 TVs in the gym, two of them were on, and both were tuned in to the Food Network. On the screen was a woman making a chocolate souffle, talking in endearing terms about the richness of the ingredients, and what a mouthwatering delight the finished product would be.

Now, I'm all for these ladies trying to exercise and lose a little weight (two days before New Year's, even!). But as I glanced back and forth between the ladies and the TV screens, the air of helplessness in the room was almost palpable. Their faces looked miserable.

I peered over their exercise machines. The timers had been running less than 10 minutes.

I wanted to ask...why were they doing this to themselves? Not the exercise part, but watching a dessert chef on TV while they were doing it. Isn't this like a gambling addict watching the World Series of Poker, or a group of monks watching the Playboy Channel? Why were they tempting themselves in such a fashion, when there are almost 60 other channels to choose from? Why purposely stack the deck against themselves?

Honestly, I wish them well, but I just can't imagine how this undertaking of theirs is going to succeed. Then again, maybe they'll surprise me.

Maybe I'll see them in the gym again next week, and I can encourage them more than I did today.

At the very least, I can recommend a different channel for them to watch.

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December 29, 2005

Tough Guy

Yesterday brought another winter storm, very dark and blustery and wet all morning long. I went running in the storm at lunch time, then took my workout bag downstairs to our employee gym for a shower.

One of our security guards was lifting weights in the gym. He's very muscular, with a shaved head, goatee, and a general "tough guy" look to him -basically, exactly what you want a security guard to look like.

So as I entered the room soaking wet in my running clothes, muddy to the knees, and shivering slightly, it prompted the following exchange:

Him: Were you out there running?

Me: Uh-huh.

Him: It's still raining, right?

Me: Yup.

Him: And still windy?

Me: Yeah. Blowin' pretty hard.

Him: (long pause) Damn, dude...

Me: I'm tough too, bro.

And with that, I ducked into the locker room.

(I've gotta say, I just never get tired of exchanges like this...)

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December 27, 2005

Elevation

I'm back from my brief blogging hibernation. Hope everyone is having a nice holiday season so far. I got the trail shoes my daughter asked Santa for (see previous post) - Montrail Diez Vistas. Took 'em out for a muddy Garland Ranch run on Monday and they felt right at home.

Did you see who Time magazine named a Person of the Year? Bono! Have I mentioned before that I really admire Bono's humanitarian work? Or that I've grown up loving his band? What a great choice. It probably means way more to him than another Grammy would. Not the honor itself, but the exposure it generates for his causes.

So way to go, Bono. Very well-deserved.

(Oh, and congrats to Bill and Melinda Gates, also.)

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December 22, 2005

Embrace the Hate

I can't remember where - I want to credit Pete Pfitzinger of Running Times magazine, although I'm not positive - but a couple of years ago I read an article recommending that on a regular basis, you should do a consistent speed workout thst you hate.

Such workouts are good for two reasons: they are extremely demanding (the reason you hate them), and they help build mental toughness to help you overcome larger psychological obstacles as race day approaches, and during the race itself.

The speed workout I fear the most has always been the long time trial. Sometimes I do a 10K on the track, monitoring my heart rate and running just one notch below race effort. More often, though, I do a 4.1-mile time trial on a gently rolling stretch of road near my house.

When I'm in shape, I fear this run because it hurts like hell, and if I finish a few seconds slower than usual, I start obsessing about where my training is going wrong.

When I'm out of shape, I fear this run because it hurts like hell, and my slower times are a sobering reminder of how much work I have ahead of me to return to form.

During my marathon buildup, this run is a weekly staple. Lately, though, I've had a hard time dragging myself out of bed on the mornings when a time trial was on the schedule.

My fitness currently is middling somewhere between "marathon shape" and "lazy slob", so I've had no expectations about reaching a particluar time for these time trials yet. The only part I know for certain when I head out the door is that it will probably hurt like hell.

This morning's run was no different than previous time trials: apprehension during the first mile, anxiety during the second, weary tenacity during the third, and a determined race effort during the final mile. I crossed the line in 25 minutes, 53 seconds.

When I'm in good form, I'll dip into the high-24s for this run, so I'm far from being race-ready. But last week I ran 26:08, and the trial before that was in the mid-26s. One month ago I was over 27 minutes.

So I'm getting faster. Maybe there's something to this "doing things you hate" idea after all.

To hammer the message home, when I got to work I sat down with my customary cup of green tea. The Good Earth company places famous quotes on its tea bags, and this morning my quote was from American psychologist and philosopher William James: "Do something every day for no other reason than you would rather not do it."

I'm familiar with the quote, and the rest of it reads, "so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test."

That was today's "wow" moment. It's almost like James was a marathoner or a coach in his spare time. He identified one of the primary tenets of sports psychology more almost a hundred years before such a field even existed, and more than a century before I began laboring with the misery of these darn speed workouts.

I know that I need to keep doing the time trials. I've always known that liking the workout is not a prerequisite. And now I know that because I still hate the workout, it actually benefits me more than if I enjoyed it.

William James would be proud of me today.

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December 19, 2005

Monterey On Ice

Monday morning started with an 8-mile trail run through Garland Ranch (my sanctuary). I began in the dark, and stayed on fire roads for the first couple of miles, climbing to a high meadow area.

Reaching the meadow, the sky was becoming gray, but the horned owls hadn't gone into seclusion yet, for I heard their constant hooting as I floated through the vanishing early morning darkness.

We had a major (by California standards) storm the day before, making the trails muddy, the fallen leaves thick underfoot, and the stream crossings a bit more treacherous due to high water. Most of the usual critters hadn't ventured out to their normal stomping areas, and I was struck by the unusual quietude of the surroundings.

When I finally emerged from the woods, it was like stepping out of some Narnia-like setting and back into the real world. The kids were just waking up as I arrived home, still wearing their pajamas and reveling in the first day of winter vacation.

In the afternoon our family went to Monterey On Ice, a small outdoor skating rink set up for the holiday season, and laced our kids up in skates for the first time ever.

We inched our way along the outer walls of the rink for almost two hours as our kids gradually got the hang of things. Glancing around the ice, it looked as close to a winter wonderland as we'll probably ever get in Monterey County.

Kids learning to skate. Couples wearing winter coats and holding gloved hands. Spectators drinking hot chocolate at the side of the rink. Christmas trees and decorations around the perimeter, with carols playing over the loudspeaker all the while.

Sure, I know it's not Rockefeller Center, but here's the thing: in how many towns can you go on a secluded trail run in the morning, take the family ice skating outdoors in the afternoon, and comfortably walk around without a jacket for the rest of the day? Sometimes I can't believe how grateful I am to live here.

Plus, I like my winter in very small doses. Our family left the ice behind and walked back through the grass under the tall oak trees of the Monterey Fairgrounds, soaking in the sunlight of another 60-degree afternoon.

Just another day of Christmas season in California. Ho Ho Ho.

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December 16, 2005

Statement Year

Wow, I've been tagged twice in three days - apparently these things traverse the blogosphere like a virus in the winter. This time the challenge is from Karen to pick one word to describe my 2006 training season and/or goals.

I haven't pondered my schedule in great detail yet, except for a couple of perennial favorites: the Big Sur Marathon, and the Dipsea Race in Marin County. But I do have an idea of how I want the year to play out.

I want to run a fast marathon again. For me, that means sub-three hours. I've done it a handful of times, but not for a couple of years now because I had different goals. In 2004 my main goal was to run a sub-five-minute mile, and in 2005 I was focused on the Pikes Peak Marathon and then with running my first ultra. I really had no fire in me to also pursue marathon PRs.

So 2006 is marathon year. And I'd love to run sub-three again. Especially at Big Sur.

Yet I can never tear myself fully away from running the trails. In June I'll do my 9th Dipsea Race, which is simply the most fun and most intense trail race anywhere. The race brings out this wild side of me that is normally kept under wraps. I don't ever want to let that wildness slip away completely.

And then I have this thing about triathlons. Here's my deal: I've always known that running is my true love. It's uplifting, comfortable, reliable, beautiful, and brings out the best parts of me. It's always available when I need it, and able to provide almost anything I ask of it. I hope to dedicate my whole life to it.

But triathlon is like this totally hot, youthful, passionate mistress that I just can't get out of my head, and can't resist chasing every couple of years. It would never work out for me if I tried a long-term commitment with the sport, but there's nothing more exciting to me during the brief periods that I embrace it.

My last triathlon was in 2004, so I'm getting the itch again to do a tri in September 2006, either in Pacific Grove (Olympic) or Santa Cruz (Half-IM).

That's the year in a nutshell. As for the right word, I thought of this:

Have you ever watched football or basketball on TV, when one team scores an impressive victory, or another team pulls off a major upset? Announcers often call such events "statement" games, meaning, the team's performance announced what kind of team it really is, and what it is capable of when running on all cylinders.

So that's my word - statement. The events I'm entering each reflect a different aspect of me, but when considered together, they describe the person I aspire to be. And hopefully the results will accurately show what I'm capable of.

I want this to be a "statement" year. A fast marathon, a hardcore trail race, and a triathlon. This is who I am. This is how I roll.

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December 15, 2005

Simple Gifts

My first version of this article was written a few years ago, and I’ve published slightly different versions of it over the past two years. I think the message is appropriate for the Christmas season, and I’d like to re-tell it here.

"Simple Gifts"

One of my great frustrations about being a marathon runner is the rate at which I need to buy shoes.

Good shoes last about 400 miles before needing replacement, and for most recreational runners this life span usually works out to about two or three pairs per year.

Marathon runners, however, are a different breed. Many of us typically run more than 75 miles per week, and it’s not uncommon to buy several pairs every year. This is by far the most cost-prohibitive aspect of running.

So it’s not surprising that every time I’m at the shoe store shelling out for yet another pair, I think about one of my favorite runners of all time, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, and consider how much money I could save by emulating him.

Bikila’s story is legendary among marathoners. He was one of the greatest marathoners in history, and his Olympic triumphs foreshadowed the domination of distance running by East African nations that has lasted over 40 years.

Prior to his competitive running career he served as an imperial bodyguard for Emperor Haile Selassie. He had only run two previous marathons before lining up at the starting line of the 1960 Rome Olympics in nothing more than a pair of shorts and a singlet- he chose to race barefoot, as he did in his youth (typical of many East African children), and as was his custom while training in the hilly farmlands of his home country.

He is best remembered as the solitary figure pulling away from the pack as darkness fell, traversing the torch-lit cobblestone streets on his approach to the stadium, winning the Olympic marathon while running barefoot. There is no better personification of everything that is simple, noble, and inspirational about running.

Bikila found more success in the years that followed, and in 1964, became the first person to win back-to-back Olympic marathon gold medals (although this time, he wore shoes).

Unfortunately, his triumphs couldn’t protect him from heartache and tragedy, in both his running and his life. He dropped out of the 1968 Olympic marathon due to an injury. About a year later he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed and no longer able to run through the fields he loved as a child.

In 1973, he died from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 41.

This is the season when people get caught up in having more “stuff” that ostensibly makes us happier. Runners are just like everybody else in this regard.

We talk about all sorts of gadgets and methods that are certain to improve our performance: the latest supplements, the best heart-rate monitors, computer software to analyze our training programs, the most blister-proof socks or the most effective moisture-wicking clothes.

This is in addition to all of the technological advances that are found in our once-basic pair of running shoes.

Yet one of the most beautiful aspects of running is its simplicity. Unfortunately, its beauty can easily be overshadowed by materialism if we’re not careful. When we are too focused on our shoes and gadgets and gizmos, we lose sight of the greater benefit.

An old Shaker hymn says, “It’s a gift to be simple, it’s a gift to be free.” The most basic kind of simplicity and freedom is readily seen in children. We’ve all observed kids at play, and marveled at their inherent love of activity, and the pure gratification of movement.

East African children are just like American kids in this regard, yet many of them – like Bikila - are able to retain this perspective into their adulthood. In western society, many of us seem to lose our youthful enthusiasm and simple delights as we grow up.

Thankfully, running provides an opportunity to experience those emotions anytime we like. The trick is learning not to dwell on the superficial things that we think will help us run better or faster.

I like to remind myself that Abebe Bikila trained without a watch, did long runs without drinking Gatorade, and won the Olympic marathon without shoes. I like to watch my own children run around without inhibition, delighting in their bodies and the basic abilities with which they were blessed.

I’m not advocating that we all start running barefoot, but we should rediscover such simple gifts in other ways.

Leave your watch at home sometimes when you run. Savor the child-like joy of moving across the earth under your own power. Run barefoot in the grass. Stop and look at the view at the top of a hill, or gaze at the water in the stream you are crossing.

Seek out your own valley of love and delight. Be thankful for your ability to run, and take pleasure in the fact that you are able to do it. Enjoy every mile of the journey, because we never know when we may be in the homestretch.

Really, these should be the easy things to do. You don’t even need a pair of shoes.

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December 13, 2005

Chain Tagging

I was tagged by Anne to reveal five random facts about myself. This is the 21st century version of those old chain letters, right? I'm fearful that something horrible will happen to me or my family if I don't comply.

So in the interest of self-preservation, here are five random things about me you didn't already know:

1) I wore Forrest Gump-style leg braces when I was a little kid, because my legs were severely inwardly rotated. I'm pretty much OK now, but to this day I still can't touch the backs of my heels together.

2) The first music I ever bought with my own money was "Synchronicity" by the Police on cassette tape.

3) I think I have a crush on Anne-Sophie Mutter, but I'll probably never act on it.

4) At first I found Elmo completely annoying, but now I can't imagine Sesame Street without him.

5) My favorite Christmas CDs are Go Tell It On the Mountain by the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Bluegrass and White Snow by Patty Loveless. A Charlie Brown Christmas is a close third.

OK, there's my list. Now go and check out these blogs I like. I don't know if they'll play along with the tagging game, but they're all worth a few minutes of your net surfing time:

1) Rob the Runner - a Washington trail ultrarunner and marathoner who is recovering from an injury and already has a busy 2006 race calendar.

2) The Thinking Runner - who is, along with me, one of a dying breed: a passionate fan and student of the sport of running. He has an awesome video library of classic track races.

3) Oldman - a triathlete in Florida who also happens to be a cancer survivor.

4) Kim - a 30-something mom, aspiring marathoner, and fellow Californian who tries to balance her training with the rest of her hectic life. Can anyone relate to that?

5) Stronger - a young Colorado triathlete who writes beautifully and has already overcome more than her share of difficulty in life. Reading her candid writings, there have been times when I've wanted to reach through the computer and give her a hug.

Go give them a visit. Tell them I sent you.

And thanks for letting me play.

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Time Passages

I've written before about "the loop", a 13-mile route through Steinbeck Country that is our running group's Tuesday morning staple. My friend Mike has ben running it consistently for over 15 years, and I've been running it for almost 10 years. Our latest Monterey Herald article looks at how some things around Mike have changed in that period of time, while others haven't. Link to the article here.

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December 10, 2005

Santa's Fly-In

Since I declared marathon training officially on, I figured I had better drag my tail out and try a long run this weekend.

I started my 20-miler in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and here are some of the areas I ran past or through: Carmel Beach, Carmel Mission, the Pebble Beach golf links on Stillwater Cove, mansions and cypress forests along 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, and about 4 miles of the most beautiful rocky coastline anywhere in America.

It was a crystal-clear morning, temps in the high 40s on their way to the 70s by the afternoon. For whatever reason, I spent a lot of time thinking about the snowstorm on the East Coast, and the frigid temperatures across the rest of the country.

I know Thanksgiving has passed, but, I mean...I just couldn't have ordered it any better than the day we were blessed with today.

The run was pretty much what I expected: comfortable through about 13-14, then I worked too hard to keep a steady pace during miles 15 and 16, and struggled dearly through the last 3 miles. But it was 20 miles, and I'll take it.

Later in the morning we attended Santa's Fly-In at the old Carmel Valley Airstrip. The field is in disrepair and has been closed to aircraft for a few years now, but every year the Community Center arranges for Santa to fly into the airport in a helicopter, with a Christmas parade through Carmel Valley Village afterward.

It's totally small-town America, and totally charming. Families turn out in droves, and somehow it feels like Christmas despite the 70-degree temps.

I drove a truck in the parade, and my son rode in the back, waving to his classmates. My daughters watched with their mom from the road and collected pocketfuls of candy.

So, to recap: a solid long run, memorable family time, and a sunny December day in California. It really doesn't get much better than that.

Marathon season is on. Christmas season is on. God bless us every one.

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December 8, 2005

Return of the Unbalancing Force

Planned workout for this morning: 8 miles, with 4x 1-mile speed intervals.
Actual workout this morning: 4 miles easy, no intervals.

Planned workout for last Monday morning: 6 hilly miles through neighborhood.
Actual workout last Monday morning: none.

Planned workout for last Friday morning: 5 miles easy, followed by core work.
Actual workout last Friday: 10 minutes on rowing ergometer, 10 minutes of core work.

I could go further back, but the pattern is already evident. I've been terribly lethargic over the past few weeks, I've reduced or skipped at least two workouts per week, and I haven't done any running of higher intensity for almost a month.

For some reason, when the alarm goes off, I can't get myself out of bed. So 5:00 AM start times turn into 5:40 start times, 8 miles turns into 4, hard workouts turn into easy cruises.

I don't have winter weather to blame, for although it's been cold by our standards (low 30s in the mornings), it's nowhere what anyone would call real winter weather.

I'm really just battling Newton's first law: a body at rest tends to remain at rest.

After my ultramarathon in October, I took several weeks of very little exercising to let my body recover and to free myself mentally from the grind of one workout after another.

Now that I've been trying to train consistently again, I'm still battling the inertial effects of that layoff. I recognized what was happening, but it didn't bother me too much.

But this week I looked at the calendar, and noted there are only 20 weeks until the Big Sur Marathon, my favorite race of the year. That initially seems like a lot, but for me to go from minimal training to top form, that's cutting things pretty close.

So now the missed workouts and shortened runs are bothering me a little bit.

And maybe that's what I need. The second part of Newton's first law is a qualifying statement: unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. In this case, the unbalancing force is my own motivation. I've always been confident that when the need arises, my willpower can conquer my body's natural instincts to take the easy path.

I care now. The unbalancing force is back. It's time to get serious and overcome my physical inertia. Marathon training is on.

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December 6, 2005

Space Blanket Snowflakes

I never know what to do with space blankets.

I've always considered those blankets given to marathon finishers worthy of respect, similar to the deference some people have for marathon medals.

Plus, they were developed by NASA, so it just seems pretty cool to walk around for a while in something that astronauts use (I had this astronaut dream as a kid. At least, until I understood there was a lot of flying involved.)

My kids like playing with them, too. After most marathons, I'll bring the blanket home and toss it on the floor for them to use for a fort, or a blanket, or a tablecloth, whatever.

Unfortunately, they take up a lot of space, make a lot of noise, and become unsightly laying around the house for several days in a row. My wife and I reached an agreement that space blankets shall be kept for only one week after a race, then thrown away.

So I was surprised last month when she told me to keep the blanket from my last race, the Big Sur Half-Marathon. She had a plan in mind.

Every December our kids cut out paper snowflakes and we hang them from the ceiling, to create as wintery an atmosphere as possible in central California. This year, I folded the space blanket in half about 6 or 7 times, and cut out a circular shape. The kids then used the circular pieces to cut snowflakes to go alongside the paper ones.

And you know what? The space blanket snowflakes look pretty cool. They reflect bits of light around the room at times, almost like they are sparkling. They make a gentle rustling noise when the heater vents are open, which sounds like a winter's breeze without the chill.

If you look at them closely, you can see parts of the race logo on different flakes, just to remind us that this is definitely a runner's house.

A runner's house with a Christmas tree, cloth snowmen, and pretend snowflakes. For this California boy, that's as ideal as winter can get.

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December 4, 2005

Christmas is Coming

Actual conversation between me, my 7-year-old son, and my 4-year-old daughter this morning in my bathrom while I was shaving:

Daughter: Christmas is coming! I can't wait.

Me: I know, it will be great!

Son: We need to remember to leave some cookies and milk for Santa.

Daughter: And maybe some Gatorade.

Me: Yes, he has a long night of flying around. Gatorade might help him.

Son: No, it should be milk.

Daughter: We should leave a present for Santa, too! He might not get too many gifts.

Son: Good idea.

Me: I'll bet Santa could use a wrist-mounted GPS system, so he can tell how high he is flying, how far he has gone, and so that he doesn't get lost.

Daughter: (blank stare)

Son: Umm...no, Dad.

Me: He probably would like one, though.

Son: Whatever we give him, we should leave it in its original box. That way if he doesn't want it, he can just leave it at some other kid's house later on.

Daughter: Good idea. (To her brother) Want to watch Dora now?

Son: Sure. Bye, Dad.

Daughter: Bye, Dad.

So I probably won't be getting a GPS. On the plus side, I did a 90-minute trail run this morning without any real soreness from my nagging injuries. And it ws 32 degrees outside, making this the first day of hat-wearing in these parts. The days are finally getting colder.

And Christmas is coming. I can't wait.

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December 2, 2005

Candy Land Makeover?

It was pure coincidence that shortly after I wrote the Candy Land piece below, we bought a Dora the Explorer Christmas video for our kids.

Imagine my surprise, then, when one of the first previews on the DVD was for a Candy Land video, coming soon to a Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and every other mass-marketing outlet near you.

Actually, I wasn't surprised so much by the fact that there is a movie version in the works(I guess that was inevitable), but that there have been substantive changes to the Candy Land game we purchased just a few years ago. I Googled the Candy Land home page, and confirmed that indeed the characters have been modified.

For example, Queen Frostine on our board game has been demoted to Princess Frostine on the website. Our Princess Lolly is now identified simply as Lolly.

Well, what the heck happened in Candy Land to cause the stripping of these regal titles? Sometimes when a new CEO takes over a troubled company, there is a downsizing that results in widespread layoffs, pay cuts, and demotions - is that what happened here?

Was there a coup in Candy Land that somehow went unreported in the midst of another flare-up in our global war on terror? Because in our household, those are equally noteworthy developments. At the very least, it should warrant its own 60 Minutes piece.

If there was a takeover, the new Candy Master must also be somewhat sexist to demote the highest ranking female characters. Thankfully he didn't change Gramma Nutt into just Mother Nutt.

Most shockingly, Plumpy, the charatcer closest to the start, is nowhere to be seen. In his place now stands something called Mama Gingertree, who "gives you a great big welcome to your adventure." Huh? Where'd Plumpy go?

Now, there may be several explanations for this, but I'm afraid it's a case of political correctness run amok.

Have people become so sensitive that we can't have a character named "Plumpy" anymore? If so, is the opposite also true - would it be offensive to have a character named "Skinny"? What about sarcastic nicknames, like big guys named Tiny or scrawny guys nicknamed Muscles? Are any nicknames acceptable any more?

(Purely random tangent: One of my favorite relay team names at the Big Sur Marathon is the Fat White Kenyans. Now these guys could be accused of offending three groups of people simultaneously - but I don't think it has ever been taken that way.)

Not only that, but they kept the obese gumdrop character named Jolly. Now...isn't that the more offensive stereotype to perpetuate: the jolly fat man?

I thought it was great to have Plumpy at the start of the game. In addition to my whole "similar spacing as the marathon" concept, it's good for kids to have a few negative role models, also. The story on the game box says that all Plumpy does is eat candy - well, isn't that a good example for kids of what happens if you eat too much and don't exercise?

I mean, the game is called CANDY LAND!! Shouldn't there be some indication of what happens if you just sit around on your butt stuffing your face instead of going out on your great adventure?

OK, that's enough. I mean...it's a children's game. Maybe I'm reading too much into this. I swear I get too attached to my ideas and writing for my own good. I guess I've rambled enough about Candy Land for now.

Well, except one more thing. On the website, there's a FAQ page with an e-mail address for customer service. I wrote them and asked two questions: 1) Why did Queen Frostine and Princess Lolly get demoted, and 2) What the heck happened to Plumpy? I'll post the answers if I get any.

And for anyone who didn't think anyone could write 2,000 words about Candy Land...just know that I'm quite an unusual breed. The next post will be about running, I promise.

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