Monday, October 31, 2011

Ol' Blood and Guts

I did my very first marathon on Sunday and it didn’t go as well for me as I’d hoped. It was a nightmare, really, which is a shame because the Marines really do put on a great event. I just couldn’t take full advantage of it.

The 2011 Marine Corps Marathon was scheduled to start at 8 AM. The shuttle was scheduled to leave my hotel at 5:30 AM. I got up at 4:30 AM, which is 1:30 AM in Los Angeles where I live and where I was only a couple of days ago. See? Already my day was off to a bad start.

At 6 AM we were in the VIP area at the race, which normally would’ve been great except the temperature was in the low 30’s and the grassy area where all the tables were set up had turned into a cold soggy mud pit from all the rain and snow the day before.

I was wearing my race clothes (running tights, a t-shirt and a slightly heavier long-sleeved top over that) covered by a pair of cheap sweat pants. The sweat pants were going to be left at the starting line. The Marines have people collect all the clothes that get discarded at the starting line and then they wash them and give them to charity. I had a cheap hoodie too, but it was back at the hotel because I didn’t think I would need it. I needed it. I was freezing. Shivering. Teeth chattering. Feet and shoes getting wet from the mud. I had a pair of waterproof running shoes, too. I brought them with me from LA but I left them at the hotel because I didn’t think I would need them.

Someone was kind enough to get me a small piece of cardboard to put on the ground so I could stretch, kind of. I was able to do a short hip-flexor stretch but not much else. I normally stretch for about 30 minutes when I do a long run like this. And I always do a little bit of a warm up before I stretch so I’m not stretching cold muscles. That was all out the door today.

I was able to get a couple of cups of hot water before we were taken away to the starting line to do an interview for Comcast. The interview took place outside. There was frost on the table. Again, I was freezing. Not properly dressed or prepared. Wondering how my hoodie and waterproof shoes were doing back at the hotel.

The highlight of the morning was being able to stand in the crowded but heated Comcast production truck for about 20 minutes or so. I was with John Doman (From The Wire. He played the prick Deputy Police Commissioner. He always plays a prick but is a very nice man in person.), his wife Linda, and Robert Swan, OBE. John Doman fought in Vietnam. Robert Swan walked the South Pole. (That’s right. He walked it.) A bit later, at the starter’s podium, I stood next to retired Marine Lt. General Richard Carey. General Carey fought at the Chosin Reservoir (the “Frozen Chosin”) in Korea with Chesty Puller. I wanted to complain about the weather and mud and such a lot more than I did, but being around those kind of people I just couldn’t. The one thing you simply do not want to say in front of a guy who walked the South Pole and a guy who lost toes from frostbite while fighting in Korea is “Gee, I’m cold.”

I was also the official starter for the marathon, which was extremely cool. I had a perfect view of the starting area. I noticed a lot of the runners were wearing nothing more than shorts and a singlet. They weren’t shivering like me. I did not hear their teeth chattering, like mine were. I thought they were crazy.

My run, once I climbed down from the starting stand and got going, started better than I thought it would. My toes were numb, but I was excited. Everyone was. It’s a fantastic feeling being in that mob of people, everyone determined to run 26.2 miles no matter what. I was surrounded by hope.

By the first water station, around mile 2, I was nice and warmed up. I was feeling good. I was pacing well. My heart rate was right where it was supposed to be. The only problem, and it wasn’t really a problem because the energy was so positive, was that it was so crowded on the road it was hard to maneuver. But despite that, everyone was extra polite and supportive. Everyone knew how to say “excuse me” and “thank you”. They got out of the way of the wheelchair racers when they needed to. (“Make a hole! Left side!”) They all offered support to other racers who seemed to be struggling. They all seemed liked they were raised by good parents.

It was a fantastic experience to be anonymous in a crowd like that.

Soon, I had caught up to the pace runner for a 4-hour finish. Soon after that, I passed him. I felt strong. My stride was good. Everyone around me exuded confidence and love and positivity. Nothing could go wrong.

Until around mile 14 or 15. It’s hard for me to say exactly when, because it was such a blur of pain after that I can’t remember. My quads started cramping up. Just a bit at first. “Oh, maybe this is the ‘Wall’ that everyone talks about”, I thought. “I’ll just run through it and it will go away.” But it didn’t go away. It got worse. And worse. And worse.

After mile 20 there were a few times I had to stop completely because of the cramping. I could barely walk. With a little bit of make-up I could’ve been a zombie extra in The Walking Dead. Then the cramping would subside enough for me to run again, if you can call what I was doing “running”. I had a splitting headache. My running clothes were soaked with sweat and cold wind was blowing through them. I though I was catching pneumonia.

It took me almost 20 minutes to complete the final mile. I was devastated. I privately was very confident about completing my first marathon in under 4 hours. I finished in 4:37:11.

But again, positivity reigned. Everyone was so happy for me. “Hey, you finished!” I heard that a hundred times after the race. People hugged me and shook my hand. At least I finished.

My fiance told me about all the people she saw throw up at the finish line while she was waiting for me. She also saw a guy at mile 16 who stopped and took off his shoe and it looked like “his toenails blew up”. All his toenails except the big one had come off. Blood all over his socks. So at least I wasn’t one of those people.

Nearly everyone I saw at the finish looked fine, but there were a few that looked in worse shape than me. The Marines had it all covered, though. Medics everywhere. Support troops everywhere. They really know their business.

I sat in the sun with my medal around my neck for a bit, aching. I ate. Talked to Rob Swan, the arctic explorer. Did a couple of interviews. Soon I was shivering again. My clothes were soaked and the wind was blowing. I couldn’t stop shaking or stuttering. I felt hypothermia coming on. I had to be held up to walk. I got a ride back to the hotel to start recovering, starting with an ice bath, which was necessary but sucked harder than you can imagine.

I want to do it again next year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Found this guy's incredible video of himself hand-drawing his own animated scenes from select Terminator movies.

It's on YouTube here.

It must've taken him forever. I've never done animation myself, but I had a show that was on TV very briefly called The Green Screen Show where we did improv in front of a green screen and animated all the action around us. It was kind of a trippy, get-high show and never took off, but I learned first hand what a pain in the ass is it to do animation. It's really tedious work, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have the gift of dogged determination.

Good work Rymdreglage!

Gorgeous Goal.

Darlington Nagbe (and I doubt that's his showbiz name) from the Portland.... Portland... why can't I remember the name of the MLS team from Portland? Anyhoo, he hit a goal against Sporting Kansas City this past weekend that was prettier than your first girlfriend.

See it on YouTube here.

If you're an MLS fan you've probably seen this, but it's worth seeing again.

Of course, I know there's some smart-ass who's probably going to ask "Why did he have to touch it twice before he shot it?" but that's the cool part if you ask me. He freakin' caught it with his right foot then, with the same foot, juggled it up to just the right height and express-laned it into the goal. He touched it twice because he was cooler than everyone else on the field just then. That's why.

A really fantastic effort.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Here's a good analogy for those of you who are new to following the US Men's National Team and their too-early exit from the 2010 World Cup. They're like whatever team in the sport you usually follow that is good enough to make the playoffs, but then that's about it. They're like a solid 8-8, or 9-7 NFL team.

So here's my question, now that you can all relate. Is getting to the playoffs enough? Is it enough that the USMNT got out of their group and onto the Round of 16?

Sunil Gulati expressed disappointment at our results at this World Cup and that made me feel better. I'm glad they all get it. I think everyone involved at USSoccer is crushed because they all expected a lot more this time around. But now it's going to be tricky. Think about it. Look what the Cleveland Cavaliers are going through right now because of an early playoff boot. The road from "pretty good" to "great" is often harder to find than the road from "terrible" to "pretty good". The USMNT is pretty good. Everyone wants great. Me, Sunil, the ball boy, everybody. We all want the USMNT to be as feared as Argentina before we die. But how to get there? Especially in a culture where so many people go out of their way to openly despise your sport. (Yeah, yeah, you hate soccer. Football is better. Thanks for yelling it at me. And fuck you too.)

This is a critical moment for the USMNT. Nobody is happy just being pretty good anymore. It will be interesting to see how the next few months (and next few years) play out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

WC2010 Opener at Soccer City in Joburg

10:45 AM. Stuck in traffic (natch) but not minding it. The party is definitely on here. People blowing those f-ing vuvuzela horns out of their cars, flags waving, people yelling and smiling, vendors weaving in and out of traffic selling whatever someone could put a South African flag on. The game isn't until 4, and the opening ceremony isn't until 2, but everyone is already pouring in. We're all trying to beat the traffic. It's going to be an all-day party.

6:20 PM. Well, you're all aware of the game so I won't bother with a recap. I will say that the 1-1 result was fair given how poorly each team played in the first half. And I loved how Blanco gave the ball away on his first touch. Hee hee.

And, according to George Dohrmann, a writer for, Vera WAS offside. Read why here. But don't try telling it to any of the Mexicans I was sitting with. I was in a luxury suite with a bunch of South African and Mexican fans. About half and half. There was a TV inside the suite showing the broadcast, but no sound. So when everyone (okay, just me and the Mexicans) rushed back to see the replay they were all pissed over what everyone in my luxury suite was a blown call. Of course, Dohrmann from is right. He was offside.

In the suite next to ours on our left was a bunch of drunk South Africans. On our right, a suite full of drunk Mexicans. At one point in the second half, a Mexican player missed a shot and one of the drunk South Africans stood up and yelled across at the drunk Mexicans "So Sorry for Yooouuuuu!". And then he forgot that the seats on the chairs spring up when not occupied and fell right on his ass when he went to sit down. It was pretty funny. We laughed for about 5 minutes. Nothing like a drunk falling down to lift your spirits.

I'm glad we got there early. There was a footbridge across the road next to the stadium that everyone had to cross to get from the parking lot. I'm including pictures of it from during the day and after the game. When I took the day pictures there was hardly anyone there because we were so early. So we were lucky. On the way out, though it was jammed. The crowd moved steadily along, but it was shoulder to shoulder and chest to back.

Gotta get going. Next game starts in 30 minutes.



Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup 2010 KIckoff Concert in Africa

Just got back from one of the best concerts I've ever seen in my life. You can read a review of it from here. And a report from Sky News here. And I found this site with video of Alicia Keys performing here.

The only bad part of the evening was the traffic getting there. Just over 3 hours of grueling stop and go frustration for a 15 mile trip by freeway. Hope it's not like this for every event during the World Cup, but I'm afraid it's going to be. We'll just have to deal with it. I guess. There's a popular saying over here: T-I-A. Meaning "This Is Africa". So you'll ask someone "What's with all the traffic and why isn't this being handled better?" they just shrug and say "T-I-A".

The stadium where the concert was held is in Soweto, the famous Johannesburg township/slum area. It was dark when we were driving by, and it looked pretty bleak, to be honest. Made me think that Americans need to redefine what it is to be poor. Being without the latest color TV or car doesn't make you poor. Living in Soweto does.

But the street scene was fantastic. People were just walking and smiling and blowing their Vuzuvelas (which is African for Little Fucking Plastic Horn). I swear, those horns are everywhere and their starting to lose their charm. They blow on them here everywhere. Can't get away from it.

Most of the rest of the day was spent trying to settle in to our hotel room. We walked around a bit, bought some proper adapters for all of our electronic crap and exchanged some money. That kind of thing. Also have been dealing with the internet service here at the hotel, which can be spotty.

Oh, and here's a crazy thing. You know that song by the Black-Eyed Peas, "I've Got A Feeling?" Well I know it's a big hit and everything, but I hate it. Really tired of hearing it. But the BEP's played it at the concert and the atmosphere was so magical and the space so full of hope and love that I started crying while they played. Everyone was singing along and waving their flags and it just seemed like the whole world was coming together to be happy and enjoy themselves for once. Unity. Peace. All that kind of vibe. And it overwhelmed me. I cried during a song I'm sick of hearing on the radio. It was that kind of night.


- Drew

Off To Africa!


Quite an interesting time getting through Heathrow yesterday for my flight to Jozi. My fiancé leaned forward to get to her bag at the same time as our 5 year old and his head collided with her nose, breaking it.

Of course, as any parent knows, when kids do this kind of thing it's always at the worst possible time. There is no such thing as the child who breaks something you don't really need that much anyway, or who throws a tantrum when you're feeling extra spiritual and loving and ready to handle it. They only break things you need that day and don't have time to run to the store to replace, and they only throw tantrums when your blood sugar is low or someplace where you'll be embarrassed by it. They have exquisite timing when it comes to breaking you down. So her nose was broken exactly one minute before we were supposed to leave the lounge and walk 10 minutes to our gate.

And the icing on the cake? Later, after we were in the air the fiancé was more or less settled into a good dull throbbing pain instead of the sharp stabbing kind, the kid went to kiss his Mom and tell her he was sorry but leaned in before she was ready and hit her in the nose again.

So a nasty start to our trip, and certain future therapy for the kid. It might hit around when he's 30 or so when he's wondering why he feels so much guilt in his relationships with women.

But I gained some insight from all this while in my role as a supportive observer. I reckon that as Jesus suffered on the cross, when he screamed out "Father, Father, why did you forsake me?", God probably answered "Because you broke my nose when you were five."



- Posted from my Jesus Pad

Location:Up In A Plane