Personal Worst

Columbia is currently experiencing “wintry mix,” which sounds like a delicious holiday potluck item, but is actually the most irritating weather pattern that nature provides. As far as I know, this is a recent introduction to Earth’s winter arsenal. I only heard the term “wintry mix” for the first time a few years ago and assumed it was a limited edition millennial offering that would eventually give way to your traditional “snow.” Yet like a McRib, it persists.

Yesterday I looked out my window at all the snowflakes, sleet and rainy pretzel bits, and decided to stay indoors with an inspirational running movie instead. I don’t have the coordination or mind-numbing patience to run on treadmills, so I needed a little something to keep my motivation up while Old Man Winter held me down. Sadly, the options were underwhelming. Where most discriminating movie viewers might have chosen the acclaimed Chariots of Fire, I went with seminal lesbian sports classic Personal Best. I probably should have just rented Stephen King’s The Running Man.


I was hoping that Personal Best would be a homo runner’s version of the classic ‘80s cycling film Breaking Away. Perhaps the movie might pit a gang of working-class teen lezzes against the university track team and let the sexual tensions build into a delightful crescendo. Unfortunately, Personal Best is no Breaking Away, nor is it the cinematic masterwork suggested by Team Dresch’s eponymous first album. I’m assuming the target demographics of the movie are “people who enjoy watching women do things in slow motion” and “people who enjoy watching women’s fingers intertwine passionately as a substitute for intercourse.” Either way, it wasn’t for me, although I was perfectly willing to fast-forward to the sexy handholding and track scenes.

Since my attempts at cinematic inspiration were an utter failure, this morning I decided to just launch myself out into the wintry mix and get it over with. Weather.com cheerfully reported the “Feels Like” index at five degrees, but I could swear it felt more like three or four. I didn’t see a single other runner out on the roads, so my wool-mittened high-fives went unclaimed. This was just as well since I couldn’t feel the cold dead hands wrapped around my special utility water bottle.

I’ve started running with a be-coozied water bottle lately, which has complicated the high-fiving but done wonders for my collection of nerdy hydrating accessories. I’ve heard that at the actual race, they just shoot water at you from one of those T-shirt guns. I really hope this is true, because breathing and getting enough water are two things that really stress me out while I’m training. A friend of mine gave me a “hydration belt” last year, with four bottles for liquid and a pocket for my inhaler, but I could never get used to the feeling of it bouncing up and down on my hips. I like the Batman-like convenience, though, so sometimes I fill up the little vials with beer and soft drinks for epic D&D sessions. If it only had a little heated section to keep a stack of Bagel Bites warm, it would be the perfect role-playing accessory.

Anyway, my new water bottle actually started to freeze on this morning’s run. Unfortunately, that means the rest of the week will involve running at the Rec Center, treading monotonous loops around the 1/6th mile indoor track to old “This American Life” episodes. If you have any podcasts or motivational running movies to recommend, by all means, lay ‘em on me! I need all the inspiration I can get.