Fleck don’t flex

There comes a point in every runner’s life when they look in the mirror and realize “oh dear, what have I done to my body?”

For some, it’s the upcoming spring and ensuing panic of showing the world their feet. For others, it’s the pain of runner’s knee. For still others, it’s the sadness that comes with knowing they’ll be forevermore taping the leg they injured in that race.


But, believe it or not, none of those things gave me my “oh dear, what I have I done to my body?” moment.

Not too long ago, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that, while my lower half was a brick house, my upper half was a bouncy castle.

flabby fleck

I decided some weight training was in order.

I was too embarrassed to start my weight training at the gym, so I ran to the computer and found an “at home upper-body training program”.


I ran downstairs and dusted off my Pilates mat.


I pulled out my (partially deflated) balance ball and foam roller from the closet, and knelt down to find my hand weights.

No hand weights.

I needed 5 pound hand weights in order to complete the set in the workout. At a loss, I turned and looked around. Dean and Maggie were sleeping in the afternoon sun by the patio door.

The bunnies looked over at me and, sensing what I was thinking, promptly scooted under the couch.

what can i lift

Bunnies clearly out of scope, I was getting desperate.

It was then that I looked over at our dining room hutch.


Two identical bottles of wine, both unopened, stared back at me.

wine weights

The workout was only 30 minutes, but after 20 minutes and three sets, I was in serious trouble.

By this time, I was panting, my arms were shaking, and I’d lost all sense of shame. I just wanted to finish the stupid workout, and never do it again.

death by weight training

I started into my fourth set of wino-reps, with my back to the patio door. But just was I was finishing up with some tricep curls, I remembered the blinds were still up.

Panicked, I turned to face the door.

Thankfully, our backyard neighbors weren’t home (phew!).

Instead, there was a squirrel on our patio, standing on its hind legs, staring at me.

talking to a squirrel

I looked back at him, his judgmental gaze piercing my flabby soul.

Utterly defeated (and deflated), I put the wine bottles back on the hutch, rolled up the mat, and ran away to hide in the basement.

intravenous ice cream

Later that night, I looked at myself in the mirror again. My upper half was still as soft as it had been that afternoon.


But, then I started to think about the squirrel.

And then I started to think about my bunnies.

And then I started to think of hares, and kangaroos, and bears, and cheetahs, and….


They’re all rear-wheel drive.

I blinked, absorbing my epiphany.

rear-wheel drive

Being rear-wheel drive is just fine with me.

Besides, who doesn’t love bouncy castles?




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Smarties, the universe, a vending machine, and a Fleck

Not so long ago, training season began.

As many of you know, marathon training is fantastic horrible. Suddenly, your hobby becomes an obligation. You start rationing your food and drink in terms of “how many miles do I have tomorrow?” and any social life you had is reduced to “I can see you between naps on Sunday. And you have to come to me, because I’m not leaving the house for anything.”

Just about the only thing I like about marathon training is that it’s one of the rare times in life when you’re actually encouraged to increase your caloric intake by 500 calories a day. Now, they say this extra 500 calories should be in the form of “good gains”, but that’s just not my style.

drink all the juice

Like many places of employment, we have vending machines at my office. Most treats and drinks are only $0.50. Pig Lion that I am, I try really hard to avoid the junk food while I’m at work because, let’s be honest, daytime is the only time I eat a healthy-ish diet. Often, while my co-workers chow down on their afternoon snacks I sit furiously chewing gum in my cubicle, because I know that once I’m home my face will find itself buried in a bowl of ice cream.

spoons are overrated

This year, I decided that my caloric increase would be had in the form of afternoon snacks from the vending machine at work.

“Is it that time?” I asked my cubicle-neighbor on a Friday afternoon, week 1 of training nearly complete.

“Yep, let’s go,” he replied. We locked our desktops and headed happily to the vending machines.

My mouth watered and my eyes lit up when I saw the third row from the top.

Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Pieces, Kit-Kat, Big Turk (gross), and the moneymaker – SMARTIES!


I gleefully inserted my 2 quarters and watched, in rapt attention, as my box of Smarties uncoiled itself from the metal snakey-arm-thing. I held my breath as the metal snakey-arm thing hesitated, and then released the Smarties box from its grip.

My eyes followed the graceful arc of the Smarties box as it fell 3 rows and landed…

… and landed…

… and landed…


Not landed.

My box of colorful chocolatey candy-coated delight wedged itself on the bottom row of the vending machine, between the label for the dried fruit snacks (that no one ever eats) and the bottom of their metal snakey-arm thing.

I looked at my colleague.

He looked at me.

Flabbergasted, neither of us spoke for at least 10 seconds before I, professional that I am, burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

fat vending machine

Ever the gentleman, my colleague tried shaking the vending machine.

The Smarties box wedged itself deeper in the slot yet, somehow, it also protruded outward, nearly touching the glass, at a most impossible angle. The whole thing was utterly ridiculous.

It was at this point that I lost my legs and fell into an obnoxious puddle of laughing-tears on the floor.


“I don’t think anyone’s having Smarties today,” he shrugged, and then did what anyone in his position would do – he took pictures.

View 1

View 1

View 2

View 2

“It’s okay,” I said, “clearly, the universe is telling me not to eat the Smarties.”

Empty handed, I went back to my desk, popped a piece of gum and, chomping furiously away, tried to mathematically calculate how such a fail was even physically possible. I arrived, again, at the conclusion that it was the universe telling me to take those extra 500 calories a day and make them healthy ones.

But that’s just not how Fleck rolls.

So I did what anyone in my position would do.

After work, I bought a tub of Smarties ice cream.

Smarties ice cream

Take that, universe.

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The full spectrum of human emotion that was my first half marathon

Having taken the Senior Gazelle’s advice, prior to signing up for a half, I made sure I could run the distance “comfortably” (if that’s even a thing), by running it many times. By the time it was race week, I felt pretty good.

But then there were the two disasters.

One, I couldn’t sleep the night before. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I finally dozed off sometime around 4am.

And the race started at 8am.

And it was a half hour drive to the race.

Beep beep

Two, in typical Fleck style, the morning of my race was absolutely miserable. It was (barely) 5 degrees Celsius.

And it was raining.

And it was windy.
cold matthau

Typically, because I am hardcore  stupid, I run in a t-shirt when it’s 5 degrees. But, because of the cold wind and the rain that day, I put my zip-up on over my t-shirt. Remembering that my bib had to be visible at all times, I fastened it over my right side pocket so that if I had to lose the zip-up mid race, I could tie it around my waist and my bib could still be seen.

Blogger fleck

I placed myself just ahead of the first pace bunny, among some of the slow(er) gazelles. I still didn’t count myself as one of them, but my goal was to finish the race with, or just ahead of, the pace bunny.

gazelles at the start line

The first 6KMs of the race were glorious. I managed to keep up to the gazelles, and the rain and wind died down. But, thanks to the clouds, the air remained cool.

keeping up

At the 7KM mark, it all fell apart.

First, the sun came out.

die in a fire rain

Naturally, I decided to lose my zip-up, so I tied it around my waist. And all was good.

For a short while.

I’m not used to running with anything around my waist and, thanks to the pressure of the zip-up, at 8KM I got the worst cramp I’ve ever had.


I untied my zip-up, thinking I’d just hold onto it in my fist until the cramp subsided.

It was then I discovered my fail.

When I fastened my bib to my zip-up, I somehow fastened one safety pin through both the zip-up and my t-shirt. This meant I couldn’t remove my zip-up from my waist without stopping. Which, lion that I am, just wasn’t happening.

So, unnaturally, I continued to run with my zip-up awkwardly bundled in my right hand, while my left was raised precariously above my head in an effort to kill the cramp.

ow with hoodie

It was then I saw her.

It was one of the gazelles from the start of the race.

And she was limping.


As I approached, my first instinct was to trip her pass her. But, the closer I got, the more I realized she was truly in trouble. Another gazelle I’d been drafting gently touched her shoulder in support as he passed. This nearly stopped her entirely, and I knew I had to do something to help.

“Would you like to pace with me?” I asked, slowing down.

“Oh, thank you so much,” she replied. “It’s my knee… I didn’t train properly for this and it’s acting up if I go too fast.”

We started to jog together. I was secretly grateful, because it was at a slower pace than I’d been enduring, and it was helping my cramp.

running with the gazelle

We ran together for the next 8KMs, both hobble-jogging, when she stopped.

“I can’t anymore,” she said. “It’s completely given out. You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

“Ok,” I replied, and went on my way, refreshed from the slow jog and the conversation.


At 18KMs, she caught up, and we paced together again. By now, the sun was beating down on us and, thanks to the fatigue of a sleepless night and the race, my legs were screaming.

“I need to just finish this,” she said to me suddenly, and she sped up.

I looked over at her, and studied her face.

She’d gone lion.

“You go ahead. My legs are heavy and I need to be careful,” I said, fully resigned to the fact that at any moment that stupid pace bunny would pass me.

Near tears, I watched as she broke away from me.

never let go

As it turned out, the pace bunny didn’t catch up to me. And, as I passed the 21KM mark, I heard a volunteer yell:

“You’re still in the Elite Class! Go for it!”

That gave me the kick in the pants I needed.

Going lion, I took off at a sprint.

no marathon matthaus

At the finish line, two faces greeted me.

The first was my husband who’d waited, first in the cold rain, and then in the hot sun, to see me cross the line.

The second was the wounded gazelle.

She ran up to me and threw her arms around my neck. “I never would have got through that race were it not for you. Thank you so, SO much!”

My eyes filled with happy tears.

“Likewise,” I replied. “Likewise.”


After taking my medal, I went to find the Gatorade and pizza (a race tradition). It was around this time that I saw the first pace bunny cross the line.

“Maybe I’m not a lion after all,” I thought to myself, as I stuffed my face.

Maybe I’m a killer rabbit instead.

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