Book Reviews

Closing the Gate: The Obelisk Gate Wrap-up

The sequel to N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is a spectacular continuation of an original, fresh take on the oversaturated fantasy genre. Picking up where The Fifth Season left off, the sixth season has befallen the Stillness. No it hasn’t but it would have been interesting if she just kept making up seasons and there were just 20 of them where different shit happened in all of them. Also that was my attempt to write a “professional” book review for a sentence and a half. If I wanted to do professional book reviews that ship has sailed a long, long time ago. There has to be people looking for book reviews from people who aren’t the losers who think they are professionals on Goodreads (no free ads) or from the “professionals” who are actually boring losers. Right? Please agree with me this is one of the foundational principles behind my whole idea for a fantasy blog. I guess I should mention this book won the 2017 Hugo Award. Probably deserved it. I think it goes without saying but there are extensive spoilers in this blog.

Well now that I have leaked out a little bit of my insecurity and my cry for acceptance is out of the way, let’s talk about The Obelisk Gate. I never thought that this could be the case, but Jemisin has an incredible way of taking what could easily be overly complicated or overdone magical concepts and just simplifying them enough that I can accept it and move on. Orogeny, and later just the flat term for magic “magic”, manifest in these weird biological and geological ways that make it slightly unclear what exactly the limits of the powers are, but because it doesn’t seem like any of the main characters have any idea what these powers can fully do, we are able to just be cool with it. The beauty of this book is the writing, Jemisin is able to masterfully capture the little details of interactions and thought that make the story seem so real. I admire the way even the grandiose conversations are littered with emotion and personality analysis.  Once again, this blog is beset with spoilers, if at this point you are not prepared for the spoilers, that’s on you chief.

We are treated to 3 POV’s in this book, well kind of, similar to the last book except this time they are on a linear timeline instead of hopping around like a bad sci-fi movie. Instead of three versions of Essun, which I’m guessing now was originally chosen for some shit relating to essence, we get Essun, her daughter Nassun, and Hoa the Stoner. O yea I think Schaffa flocka flame gets a chapter somewhere in here. He is fucking cool man, he’s part grandfather, part immortal super-killer who is some version of “the bad guy who is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goal who is morally ambiguous because that goal is to help the entire population of the world” archetype. A more learned man would probably know that term. Or provide examples. I shall do neither. His little deal with the voice coming from the weird thing in the back of his head is a really cool chapter that sets up mystery. I always enjoy a little family slaughter for the sake of the world type thing.

Essun is in Castrima under and struggling with a littttttle bit of identity crises. This is a woman who is used to hiding, instead she is kind of cast into the limelight and becomes an important part of the leadership squad. Faced with having to fit in, having to make decisions for the good of the comm, and meeting her long lost other leg of an isosceles love triangle, it’s safe to say she is struggling. Throw Alabaster telling her she is the key to catching the moon, which is apparently the reason the seasons are fucked, and it is safe to say she is swamped with struggles!

So essentially the point of this book is Alabaster went to some other city where he found out about a three party war between the stone eaters, Humanity and Father Earth and decides to break the earth one last time to try and end the war. In order to make things right Essun needs to catch the moon so it goes back into orbit and the seasons end and everyone is happy-go-lucky so they stop trying to kill everyone else. Some of the stone eaters don’t even care and just want to rule the earth and kill everyone. They are led by this guy Nassun names “Steel” which besides being a badass name, he essentially is your more proto-typical villain.

The key to catching the moon? It’s the obelisk gate of course! As Essun learns to use magic, which is I guess being able to manipulate peoples biological cells instead of just manipulating the earth, she learns to utilize the obelisks in ways she never dreamed!

Nassun on the other hand, is in a weird growing up faze where she is struggling to deal with her father, who as we all remember murdered her younger brother, and balance her new life in the found moon comm, run by fan-favorite Schaffa. I am unclear of her role in things, but I really enjoy her creepy descent into darkness, especially when she kills her annoying ass dad.

Overall this is an excellent middle book of the trilogy. The second book can always be really awkward because it struggles to recapture the magic of the first book while providing a bridge to the final book all while having to be entertaining in its own right. This book succeeds, the final battle between the lovely people of Castrima under and the Rennais gang was very satisfying. At least until Essun wipes them all out in two seconds by accessing The Obelisk Gate and unleashing world bending magic on them. I didn’t like that part at all and feel like the publisher made Jemisin end the book so it didn’t get too long so she went fuck it just blow it all up on us. It kind of reminded me of the Mistborn trilogy when Sazed just ends the war by reshaping the earth. It’s funny that a huge blast of magic always seems so anticlimactic to me. This book could have been another 200 pages and I still think it would have worked. I legit can’t wait to get to the next one.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 3: I survived the 2019 Heatwave

Michael Jordan flu game. Isaiah Thomas 2016 playoff run. Robert Griffin III 2013 NFC Playoff Game. LeBron James playing through an almost broken back for the 2018-19 season. These are the moments we remember. Man overcoming injury to glory. Granted those last two examples both those guys lost spectacularly but you get the point. And LeBron’s injury coincidently coincided with his team losing. HMMMM.  I would add myself to the list of the greats, but I just overcame adversity in training. Credit to me, and I guess if I have to give credit, credit to anyone else who ran this weekend. Actually more credit to me, I don’t do it for the camera’s but rather for the love of the game.

As I am sure all my fellow New Yorkian’s can attest too, it was hot as balls this weekend. It was around 100 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday, and as crazy as it sounds it felt even hotter. I mean, it the type of heat/humidity that caused instant swamp ass two seconds into walking outside. I could feel my chest compressing as I was running. I guess that would be why New York Road Runners cancelled their run this weekend. I am not NYRRs though, and the training must be done. I ran the 10-miler on Saturday morning, I even woke up early so I could get going by like 7:30am. I wish I got up at 6. It might have been one of the top 10 hardest runs I have ever done, including some races. I swear at a certain point I was sweating so much that actual foam was coming out of my compression shorts, like a fucking race horse that has been ran to exhaustion. Literal foam. Nuts. Good news is I think the knee injury is really healed up, it didn’t give me too much trouble. Probably because my ligaments melted. Point is, the weekend was tough.

As for the week coming up, I don’t foresee too much difficulty besides the rain that is coming today and tomorrow. As usual, the Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back can get really tiring, especially when I play soccer Tuesday nights then have to have a longer run Wednesday. I think that my body is getting used to it, or you know like training is actually benefitting me. Tuesday is a 6-mile tempo run, which normally I hate but I am really excited to see how it goes, purely because the Garmin Forerunner 235 (no free ads) has a feature where I can program workouts into it, which should make it much easier to follow along. What a stupid reason to get excited for something I normally hate doing. Kind of like when you get a new suite or gym clothes or something and you get really excited to do something you normally hate just because you got the right gear for it and all of a sudden you think you are going to love it. For me that is pretty much anything involving wearing a suite. Got a new one, obviously thought I looked like hot shit, and was jacked up about wedding season. Ten minutes into the next wedding I was at I remembered that it wasn’t the way I was dressed, it was that I hate socializing and people and events and life. O yea the long run is 12 miles this weekend. Let’s goooooo.

Final Notes: I finished The Obelisk Gate finally, review will be coming at some point this week. A little disappointed in how slow I have been going with the reading lately, I think with no book updates the blog gets a little to me-focused instead of talking about things. Hopefully this inspires me to finish The Dark Defiles, since my boss who has been lending me The Broken Earth Trilogy books is out until next week so I can’t get the next book. It would be nice to be able to but A Land of Heroes trilogy away for all time and never think about it again.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Great Hunt Audiobook Update 2: Rand getting Randy

At this point of the book, we have to question if Rand is more of sexual deviant then supposed savior of the world. Sure he doesn’t explicitly have sex, or like harass anyone or any of the other things that makes my judgement obvious, but it takes a little reading between the lines to really see it. I guess this deserves some context, and with that WELCOME TO THE AUDIOBOOK UPDATE.

Assuming you are still reading after that, let me be the first to say Happy Friday! I have been fortunate enough to avoid getting trapped in the murderous heat (mostly because I spend all day trapped in the gulag I call work) and though my electric bill is rising faster than a priest’s pecker in a preschool, there’s no way I could possibly go without some AC at night. Not looking forward to having to run Saturday and Sunday, I probably will get up early and try and bang out the long run tomorrow morning. Not that you care you are here to hear about what I have heard!

Well that is going to have to wait a paragraph or two because I am here to talk about some gear. Thanks to Amazon Prime Day, no free ads, I was able to get myself a Garmin Forerunner 235 for $140. I know that the Forerunner 245 has come out already and that attributes to Garmin trying to sell off their old models, but I am not a guy who needs my watch to do a whole bunch of different things, I just want an accurate GPS and a timer. The price is well worth it for the watch, I remember for Black Friday the watch cost $200. So using it for the first time this morning, I knew that this was well worth it. The watch made checking my distance so much easier than either checking my phone or waiting for the audio cues from Runkeeper. As someone who is highly obsessed with making sure the run goes over the actual distance, I always had to adjust the GPS map on Runkeeper. Inevitably I would find out I’m .2 miles short of my goal then trudge my ass up and down the sidewalk looking like one of the crackheads in Church Square Park. All in all, this is much easier.

Okay back to the book. The characters have had their split before they inevitably meet up at the end, like all good fantasy books should. The paths have been set, Egwene and Nynaeve are headed for the White Tower, Rand is trying to keep his dick in his pants while simultaneously lording over Loial and Hurin, and the hero and wolfboy are chilling with the Shienaran boyzzzzzzzzz.

A quick comment on Padan Fain, his paranoia talking to himself thing gets a little annoying at times, but him fucking up that Myddraal by skinning it in front of all his gang is badass. I can imagine that being absolutely gruesome and terrifying. Fear is effective. And frankly more fun to read about.

I love the way Nynaeve straight up disrespects the shit out of everyone. O you are the Amyrlin and everybody purses their lips to kiss your ass, fuckkkkk that I’m going to air throw you against a wall and show you I’m the real one. Just a boss ass bitch who takes no shit. All anyone needs to do to motivate her is tell her that if she trains eventually she will fuck them all up.

The hero and Perrin are choosing to stick to the mission, which is to get the horn back. Matt’s disdain for any magic power is inspiring, he is just the perfect character. He successfully ices out Rand because Rand was acting like an entitled lord, and when Rand tries to apologize Matt’s like helllll no don’t come near me with your magic madness ass. Characters who can get by in a world of magic without any magic always make me happy. I do enjoy Perrin as well, his personality is a little over the top with the humble blacksmith routine, but I love the wolf connection. He also is a house and I respect a unit when I see one.

But let’s get back to Rand the pervert. He meets this random girl named Selene and acts like he has never seen a hot girl before. Look that’s okay, Rand is a certified loser who already lost the girl he has a crush on, so it is to be expected that he is going to be a sucker for the next woman who flashes a little kneecap, but my god you are pathetic bro.

First off, he lies about his status as a lord and eattttts up the attention Selene gives him. The guy is literally fumbling for words. Pathetic. But it is the scene where he catches her trying to rob him that gets me. Let’s run through the things he says and I will leave the reader to draw their own conclusions.

“Unbidden, the thought came of Selene with no clothes. His face went red again.”

Bro, you just met the girl and you are already undressing her with your eyes. You haven’t even followed her on Instagram yet, where you can look at her in conspicuously angled pictures meant to draw your eye to her more prominent features where she is essentially naked and you don’t have to imagine anything. Also he completely disregards her when he questions how she knows all these things about Kirby’s Dreamland when Loial, a MAN, doesn’t even know it. Basically says that because she is a woman there is no way she could have read as much as Loial. Disgusting, no respect for her mind.

“It was not that he wanted to touch her, exactly-he reminded himself that he loved Egwene; he felt guilty at the need for reminding-but she was beautiful, and she though he was a lord, and she said he could be a great man.”

This one is just too much. Break it down, he said he wanted to touch her! Without even the pretense of dinner! Get the girl a cheeseburger first before trying to touch her buns. Despicable. You know what stops him, GUILT, guilt over the fact that he is going behind the back of the girl he is talking too, salivating over a girl he just met. He would have touched Selene if he didn’t think he would feel guilty. And the whole thing about being a Lord, Rand hasn’t even held any real power yet and he is already thinking about ways to use that power to manipulate innocent women to get laid. Thirsty ass Rand just another typical man who thinks because he has power he deserves to fuck whoever he wants. So shameful.

“He had put Nynaeve’s age to her-a handful of years older than himself-but he had been wrong, he realized. She was more his own age, and beautiful,”

“She seemed so cool and self-possessed, no older than he,”

“It was not as if he had never seen a girl’s legs before: girls in the Two Rivers always tied up their skirts to go wading in the Waterwood ponds. But they stopped doing it well before they were old enough to braid their hair, and this was in the dark besides.”

THREE COMENTS ABOUT HER AGE. This guy is the fucking worst, he tries to pull this shit in America he’s going straight to jail, or the head of a finance firm… Look he mentions how hot he thinks Selene is, but he can’t stop harping on the fact that she looks young, he is almost obsessed with it. When he sees Selene’s legs, his FIRST thought is about little girls in the river, and he remembers this fondly. I am going to let you draw your own conclusions, but the evidence piles up after a while. There is a reason this is an anti-Rand blog.

Final Notes: I just want to acknowledge the kind of mind it takes to listen to an audiobook while running, retain the information and form opinions, and latter write that stuff down. On top of that I am even able to find quotes that I recall hearing. Truly inspiring stuff.

Impostor's Workshop

The Impostors’ Workshop

I was listening to The James Altucher Show yesterday (yea I’m a big brain guy) and he had this guy Eric Weinstein on. I promise this has a point to it. Eric Weinstein was talking about confidence, something that every self-help book and therapist and successful business guy/gal talks about. You always get the standard stuff like you need to believe in yourself, just do it even if you are scared, or whatever other bullshit they think you want to hear. But Weinstein kind of skipped over that kind of useless crap and brought up this impostor idea to things, a kind of fake-it-till you make it philosophy I particularly connected too.

The idea is basically that if you look at an area that you would like to do something in, whether it is creative, academic, physical, spiritual or whatever else you can think of, and you are hesitant to try or pursue it because you don’t think you have the proper schooling, training, skills, confidence, talent, personality, body, etc. so what.

Yea my instant reaction to hearing that introduction is probably what you are thinking, how does that address the real issue, which is that I am literally paralyzed by fear because I know I am a fake. Well, Weinstein says embrace that. I’m paraphrasing a little but he said something along the lines of “So what if you are an impostor. Instead of trying to fight it, say to yourself, what if I am an impostor. Maybe my faking it is better then someone’s earnest attempt.”

Now to the point. The area I always have felt like an impostor in is creative writing. It doesn’t matter what I have done, there is always a sense of missing a crucial piece of schooling or training or whatever that makes anything I write suck. I even have had articles I have written published in actual books and websites from real publishing companies (humble brag, though they are medical, geography and media articles, which considering I have no formal education in any of those areas kind of goes with this theme) so there has been real feedback from real people that I am at the very least capable of writing coherent things, albeit non-fiction stuff..

But creative stuff is different, you really are putting yourself out there. Even in creating this blog I have this feeling of being an impostor. I admire the kind of people who can just do something and put it out there without fear. Every time I post something I think to myself how shitty it is. I even know that nobody reads any of this stuff or if they do I have no idea who I am but I can’t shake the feeling that I am going to be exposed as like a fraud. I read blogs all the time and think to myself that I can write better then that, yet I hesitate to ever actually write anything, and if I do I still get nervous putting it out there. So for the sake of embracing my inner impostor, here is some creative writing I had done years ago and occasionally revise. I am going to use this blog to self-edit and put out new versions of this every once in a while. That is the longest intro to doing something ever.

The Duel

He woke with a start, his eyes snapping open, head swiveling to take in the scenery quickly. His head was throbbing, that was no surprise. He was soaking wet, depending on what happened last night, that also was not surprising. As his vision cleared he saw his two people standing over him, one holding an empty bucket. Well that solved one mystery. Not trusting his voice, he groggily sat up and awaited the answer to the next mystery.

“Shes dead” Jacques said.

That certainly explained why the two men broke into his room and woke him. He attempted to get out of bed and stumbled to the ground, which proved particularly painful due to his lack of clothing and the direction he fell. The two moved to help, but he waved them off.

He slowly got to his feet and felt a small sense of pride, not many men would be able to stand when it felt like their head weighed a hundred pounds. Sometimes it’s the little things.

“so what do we do” Jacques asked after accepting his silence as an answer.

Still not trusting his voice he slowly walked to the table and sat. His treasure laid strewn across the table. He took the knife and began to chop the white, rocky powder into lines. After a few moments of doing his best imitation of a line cook, he was satisfied with their length and texture. Not for the first time, he reflected on society’s lack of recognition of the artistry this took. He proceeded to pick up the gold cylinder lying next to the pile and brought one end to the first line, the other end to his nose.

He inhaled deeply till nothing remained of the powder.

Instant awareness. Pure bliss. Power.

He was invulnerable.

Finally trusting his voice he simply stated “He dies then”

“Do you really…”

“Where is the sword” he interjected. He panicked for a moment, frantically looking around the room. But he knew where the sword was and went to retrieve it. Today, after countless nights contemplating, was the day he finally unsheathed the blade. He picked up the blade gingerly, caressing the handle like it was a lover’s flesh. To him it was.

“Today you finally get your wish” he whispered to the blade. He could see the confusion on his men’s eyes out of his peripherals, even when holding his heart’s desire there was not much he missed. They thought he was crazy. He was willing to accept that.

Months in a self-imposed prison, doing nothing but inhaling the white gold and drinking whatever they brought up from the bar, refusing to speak to anyone in person but Jacques, and spending your time talking to a sword might not be the behavior of a sane person.

It did not matter. For today the blade would see the light, and it would feast on blood.

“Just wait a little longer” he reassured the blade.

“Sir are you alright” the other one, Wilth asked. Wilth always spoke to him respectfully, even though he hadn’t spoken back to him in months. The man did what he was told. And was well paid for it.

He did not have time for questions, he picked his clothes off of the ground. His breeches had several holes in them and his shirt was missing a sleeve. It did not matter. He shuffled some of the powder into a satin pouch, tying the knot and placing it with the straw gingerly into his pocket. He placed the longsword on his back and exited the room, brushing by the two men on his way out.

He walked down the hall, his stride was confident, gone was the drug induced haze. As he made his exit, the innkeeper called “Blaser, you gon pay for the room or yer out.”  Blaser, yes that was what he was calling himself. He did not respond, continuing out the door into the afternoon sun.

Its time to kill. He still wasn’t sure whether it was the sword or his own imagination, but either way somebody was speaking to him inside his head. “Soon soon” he consoled the blade. He worked his way along the paved road, the neat two story adobe buildings lining the sides in perfect symmetry. His feet were taking him to the courtyard, which made sense considering that was where Bakmon would be. He walked in the middle of the road, his look was enough to make carts redirect themselves and foot traffic to find another way around.

Hawkers cut their pitch short as he walked by nervously waiting until he past. He pulled the pouch out, opening it just enough to dip the straw in. He inhaled until it felt as if he couldn’t breathe.

Awareness, bliss, power.

As he approached the courtyard it was obvious word had spread. Street toughs, well-armed with spiked maces, stood with expressions meant to hide their fear. He walked past, and as he did they fell in behind his 3 man entourage.

The courtyard was emptied, rare for this time of day. Though the reason for that was obvious, Bakmon himself was standing in the middle, sharpening his gigantic battle axe, surrounded by a gang of armored soldiers.

“So you are alive, well lets settle this the easy way” the orc said. Most men would have been intimidated by a 7 foot orc in malshon armor, but Blaser wasn’t most men.

He ignored the statement, walking towards Bakmon, not breaking eye contact. Bakmon looked away at his soldiers, “Make way you good for nothing fucks”. As if to reiterate his point he took the nearest soldier and tossed him a good 10 feet away. The soldiers quickly shuffled after that.

Blaser made his way towards the middle and stopped when he was two paces away from the orc. Bakmon was surprisingly well-groomed for an orc, his orange hair was pulled back in a bun, and he had a clean shave, which served to make his green skin shine brighter. Blaser continued to stare at him until Bakmon broke the silence.

“Here are their heads, I did not authorize this.” He pulled two heads from a sack lying by his feet and tossed them. A quick glance showed that one was a Subasi troll, the other some Igolo or Samkrit human.

“It does not matter they are your soldiers”

“I guess it doesn’t, just thought you would like to see them dead before you join them”.

The orc certainly didn’t lack confidence.  The soldiers backed up, giving the two warriors plenty of space. Blaser took the pouch out again, and after another inhalation, placed it back in his pocket.

Awareness, focus, strength.

He pulled the sword out and stared. The frozen flame, legendary sword of Licarious, given to him for safekeeping to never to be unsheathed, gleamed in the sun. He forgot where he was for a second as he stared lovingly at the sword. Its clear blade drank the sunlight, the red substance the crystal incased was darker then blood. The pommel was pure malshon, the grip well worn. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid his eyes on.

 Kill, must kill. Licarious had warned him, the blade demanded its price. Vaguely he remembered Licarious telling him to hide the blade and never hold it, for the blade could consume you. Blaser didn’t believe him at first, a sword was a mere object. But now he knew, this was more then a blade.

 He could see it in Balkmans face, the orc was scared, he hadn’t believed the rumors. His posture changed, he went from towering over Blaser to backing up defensively, giant battle-axe in a guard position. Without the sword this would have been a close fight, in Blaser’s condition he was as likely to pass out as to strike through the orc’s armor, but with the sword everything changed.

Despite the extraordinary difference in size and Blaser’s obvious lack of armor, he held no fear. Fear was something Blaser had never learned, even before the powder and the sword. He pulled his head back and laughed, the laugh of a madman. When Blaser was done he looked at Balkman, and saw a dead orc. The sword was silent. For now.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s: WEEK TWO COMING AT YA!

Brutal title, brutal series name. All around just an insulting performance. Will I change it? No the time has passed for this. Buttttt without further ado or to do – I never really know what the correct way to say that is, and in keeping with the mail-it-in Monday theme this blog has already undertaken in the first two sentences/title I will not correct it – lets dive into week two. What a sentence, what a week.

As you may recall from the previous rendition of this, I have started my 16 week training plan (that will take 17 weeks) last Monday. Meaning that the first week is done! It went pretty well, I mean it wasn’t a real uptick in my normal weekly mileage, I think that things will start to heat up when the long runs get to the 14 mile and up range. As you can see, this week had no hills or tempo runs or any other misery, so it wasn’t a challenge to get it done in terms of mileage. I did screw up and read the wrong week and ran 10 miles instead of the allotted 8 mile run but whatever not that big a mistake.. Realizing that I can just screenshot my Runkeeper app, I can post my runs for the week to show that I don’t just talk a bad game, I also play it. Have fun with this data. I know I should be using Strava but idc let me live my life. If they want to sponsor an amateur runner with a hybrid fantasy/sports blog that has amassed almost 30 followers though…

Not to complain, but also to complain, I kind of jacked up my knee playing soccer Tuesday night, so these runs while not long, have been pretty painful. They have teetered on that just enough to bother me and think about the whole time, but not hurt enough to sideline me. If I can run, I’m running. The blog’s resident doctor, Dr. Nathalie Ruiz, DPT, told me that my quad is so tight that my kneecap is jerking up or down or is loose or something like that, hence the pain. She said I’m good though so whatever the grind continues. I’ve been told I will not be getting her take on things, but I would love to get a “This is what you actually did to your body” take on all my injuries, instead of me spinning it in a way that makes me seem less hurt.

The long run was painfulllll though. Felt like Teddy Bridgewater out there. I ran it Saturday instead of Sunday, due to scheduling conflicts, so I really didn’t have a short run the day before. That gave the knee no time to heal. On Thursday, my off day, I hit the gym and did a bunch of hamstring, groin and hip exercises, and I’m thinking I hit the hammys too hard because those things still are not healing. I overdid it with the good-mornings, so now none of my mornings are good. Most toolish two sentences in this blogs history. I know that is a hilarious joke so you would tend to not believe I actually did those, but I did. To get through the run I really tried to foam roll a shitload the night before and prior to the run. I also used that weird Biofreeze gel they give out in the NYRR post-run bags, but I think the only thing that is really going to heal it quickly is rest. So heal slowly it is. Sorry Doc.

Looking forward to the upcoming week. Got a nice 0-4 mile option today, going to shoot for 4 but if I start to feel my knee stiffening I might just forego the run altogether. Fortunately this week seems to be easier, I do have a tempo run Tuesday but it’s only like 4 miles so I shouldn’t be too hurt for soccer that night. The 7 miler Wednesday is going to suck but other than that, I should hold up nicely. I really should get a running watch it makes it so much easier to do those tempo runs. Have a great week everyone!

Final Notes: I went to the New York Red Bulls vs. NYC FC game last night and I think I am all in on the MLS. Not that I am ever going to watch it on TV, but the live games are fun as hell. The speakers were broken last night but the crowd was so loud I didn’t even realize it until like the 25th minute. The highlight of the game was the NYC FC defender kicked a ball out and the line ref called for a corner. The Red Bulls were like fuck that and just threw the ball in while the NYC FC players were jogging back to get set up to defend the corner. They were caught completely flat-footed and gave up a beautiful cross that ended up in a Red Bulls header for the go-ahead goal. What proceeded was legit 10 minutes of arguing. Best part? I bet the Red Bulls baby.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Great Hunt Audiobook Update 1: Lan’s Life Lesson’s

There are times when you got to raise your hand up and admit when you are in the wrong and not for the first time in my life I am raising my hand. I have let down my loyal and nonexistent audience by not providing an audiobook update last week. My apologies friends, I had a four day weekend and took the lazy way out. You may be wondering why I didn’t address this scandal on Monday’s blog. Well I didn’t want to sully my marathon blog with the stink of failure.

That being said, with the week winding down and marathon training in full almost week swing, there has been ample opportunity to dive deep into the The Great Hunt, which is of course the second book of the Wheel of Time series. I really do want to start listening to a random book in a series, like say book five of a ten book series, and see how impossible it is to follow. I think that would provide a solid level of content, since if I just continue to lightly recap the WoT I might hang myself like the prisoner in Fal Dara after he sees the Myddraal during the Padan Fain rescue attempt. That’s called a lead in folks.

Something that Robert Jordan does extremely well is these prologues that give us a POV of a character to kind of give us a different perspective then what we are going to be reading. Old Georgy does the same thing with ASIOF and now that I am thinking about it I think that a lot of authors do this exact thing. Point is, I like this shit, especially when we start to get POV’s of the bad guys. The meeting of the Dark Friend posse is interesting because the Wheel of Time, along with many other fantasy series, has the tendency to make the bad guys seem so dumb, like they kind of just fall into these traps or screw up at just the right moment. I understand some of that is necessary but it is refreshing to see that there actually is a bigger plan at play. The out that Ba’alzamon offers us is he is unsure if he wants Rand dead or not. So anytime Rand doesn’t get killed it’s a solid “well it’s not his time yet.” Just for the record I am retroactively redacting the “p” word.

What we have gotten more off in the start to this book is some good ol’ fashion Lan dialogue. I am not ashamed to admit that I almost universally love any scene in a fantasy series that involves some good ol’ fashion training. Good ol’ fashion. Just thought I should say it a third time. Maybe it is because I harbor deep seeded dreams of becoming a pro athlete despite never playing a college sport (and already being 26 out of my prime), or because I respect the grind. Or maybe I just like it idk not everything has to be looked into. Is deep seeded the expression? Who knows. Point is that we get lots of Lan’s Life Lessons. Shit that is a great subtitle for this blog or a good blog series. When you get to this part of the blog you will have noticed that is already the subtitle. A little behind-the-scenes on how I create greatness.

Lan takes an active role in training Rand, which mostly involves beating him with a practice sword. Let me tell you, nothing in this series brings me more joy then the idea of Rand getting whipped up on. The lessons he offers are the basics, but he keeps urging him to leave which shows that he not only cares for Rand (which is dumb) but that he can think separately from the goals of the Aes Sedai. I just finished the part where he imparts his final lesson “sheathing the sword” which is not the line dropped on us by the late great Walder Frey “every sword needs a sheath.”

“There will come a time when you must achieve a goal at all costs. It may come in attack or in defense. And the only way will be to allow the sword to be sheathed in your own body. … when the price is worth the gain, and there is no other choice left to you. That is called Sheathing the Sword. Remember it.”

Sick use of block quotes. If you asked Walder Frey to interpret Lan’s expression I believe he would introduce you to a concept made popular by famous Marilyn Manson rumor. I’m talking self-sucking folks.

While I normally don’t consider myself a sappy guy I can’t get enough of the Lan and Nynaeve forbidden love thing. That touching ass scene where he gives her the ring is heartwarming. As someone who loves to watch (forced to watch) a decent amount of Rom-Com’s I have a soft spot for this kind of thing.

No Matt yet and for this the book has suffered tremendously. The book also suffers from the Amyrlin Seat’s terrible fishwife expressions. It is soooooo forced. Cringe worthy. Pretty much the equivalent of every line in Twilight (the movie not the books those were good). I like her as a character but her lines are sometimes brutal.

The point of this book is to go get the horn they had for two seconds back. Thought it would be worth mentioning.

Final Notes: I wanted to do an NBA trade’s recap because anyone who even passively follows the NBA or free agency knows this has been insane. With Westbrook going to the Rockets my mind is fucking blown. Just for the record I may have mentioned I am crazy anti-Westbrook. I was going to make a joke about Westbrook saying “anti-ninja turtle” but I am vehemently pro ninja turtle. I want to get into summer league gambling, seems like a real thrill. That’s Friday folks.

Marathon Mike

TCS New York City Marathon Training: It Starts with a Step…

Before I dive in to what can only be described as the most laissez-faire approach to an intense training regiment, let’s all take a minute to acknowledge the artistry involved in crafting a title that both repels and engages you all at once. Essentially a clusterfuck. I’ve been told that is my charm. Also it took a solid five minutes to figure out the correct way to write laissez-faire and to see if I used it correctly. That’s the level of efficient blog writing I bring to the table.

As the title makes crystal clear, it officially is day one, week one of my 16-week marathon training program. If you are wondering why I am undertaking a 16-week training program when there are 17 weeks until the marathon, well I am going to Colombia August 24th to September 1st to go on a cocaine sabbatical and since I neither speak the language nor have a very healthy ticker, it is in my best interest to just repeat the week before and pick it up when I get back. Also this trip is purely tourism, as fun as a cocaine sabbatical might be to some, that really ain’t my thing but it sounded funny. And my hearts fine, except for right now because I slugged down one of those Dunkin’ Energy Cold Brews since I had a free beverage thing on the app that I needed to use today, and my heart rate is through the roof.

Tingling feeling creeping down from my heart to my left hand’s fingertips aside, I am feeling like I am in peak physical condition. Having ran about 30-40 miles a week for the last few months, on top of a weekly gym session or two, occasional millennial hot yoga and some rec league soccer, I think I am ready to take on this next challenge. I have also come to the conclusion that writing all that out made me seem like a fucking losssssser. Please bear with me. Or don’t, it’s okay this stuff is for me anyway.

As for the plan, I am doing a modified version of the advanced NYRR stock training plan, which you can see at the top of this blog. By modified I mean I am making a few changes to fit my scheduling, not that I am changing it in any way. Remember I am an idiot not some fitness guru. The first change is the obvious repeat of week 8, which I know is going to slow the progression and make the following week where I have a long run of 18 miles brutal, but I really don’t have a solution for it. Besides, I signed up for the TCS New York City Marathon Training Series 18M and the plan lines up perfectly with that race if I repeat the week while I am on vacation. Gotta find the good in things. The other modification is swapping the Wednesday/Thursday runs. My girlfriend has a lot of similar runs to what would have been my Thursday runs, so for the sake of getting in some training together the swap makes sense. The things I do for love…

Being an eternal pessimist I already know where I am going to struggle with some of this stuff. The first and most glaring problem I already foresee is the obvious heavy workload for a guy who has never run a marathon. I want to say I know my body’s limits, but what I believe I can do and what my body can actually do are two completely different things. Some of the heavy weeks are way beyond anything I have ran before. I am terrible with rest days and this plan does not have many of them, so it is crucial that I actually rest when I am supposed too, especially during those crazy weeks. Honestly, if this plan is proving too much for me I will just switch it out with the NYRR stock intermediate plan, which is very similar with it’s long runs but is a little less intense during the week. Not exactly a great attitude but if I am realistic going in, then if I have to do it I will at least be prepared, albeit disappointed in myself. Nothing new there. Another problem I am going to have is doing the tempo and hill workouts. I really enjoy just running to run and am not at all one of those “need to go an exact pace” kind of runners, but it was proving impossible to find a plan that didn’t have any speed/hill workouts but also had enough running for me. Wow that sounded weird. I hate doing tempo shit, but I did do like 4 miles of hills this week and it wasn’t terrible. Maybe I will be alright. The last issue I have is that I am going to continue to play soccer and whatever other sports come my way, but will not skip any runs for them. The injury bug comes for everyone. Stretching and proper care are essentials that I often neglect. Gotta be better about it.

Well there you have it, these are just some of my thoughts on beginning a journey that is going to last the next four months or so. I am pretty jacked up about starting this thing and while I can’t promise I will update my progress every week, I will do my best to give at least semi-regular updates. I hope that I will get the chance to talk about my experience with some of the gear I use, some of my struggles with specific runs, and some of the cross-training I do, amongst other stuff. I also hope I can get my girlfriend to write a few guest blogs describing her own experience with her plan in order to offer the zero readers of this blog a different perspective and approach to marathon training from an actual expert of the human body instead of a guy who thinks he knows everything and researches nothing. Either way it starts with putting pen to paper or taking that first step, so just by writing this blog I have taken that first step!

I just want you to know I am aware how fucking nauseating that last sentence is, I thought about ending the blog on it ironically but just couldn’t do it. This is why I will never write for some big company. Or make any money doing this…

Love you all.