>>> Balls to the Wall
By staff writer Dan Opp
November 2, 2005

I’m tired all the time. Not really mentally or emotionally tired, but absolutely, physically exhausted with alarming frequency. I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing like a cystic fibrosis patient. I haven’t exercised with any regularity for nine months, so you’d think I would’ve saved up some energy by now. Apparently this isn’t the case.

I recently consulted a doctor about my sporadic fatigue, basically looking for him to prescribe some fix-all medication to help ease this crippling genetic affliction that has caused me to sit around on my ass for the better part of a year, maintain a terrible diet, and gain an unsightly ten pounds. You know what that stain with a stethoscope suggested? He said I should exercise. Wow! Thanks a lot, Doc! While we’re at it, why don’t we just get Patch Adams to laugh me back into sound cardiovascular health?

“After downing enough spiced rum to send Captain Morgan himself overboard, I was ready to start exercising. Fifty dry heaves later, I was convinced it wasn’t the proper avenue.”

Does this guy really expect me to believe that 50 million obese Americans don’t all share an irreparable hereditary disease? Is Dr. Dicknose over here saying that the 600-pound woman who putts around in a Rascal scooter because she’s too damn fat to walk doesn’t work out enough? Because if that’s indeed what he’s saying, he just lost all credibility with me. I know first-hand that that woman spends several fat-burning minutes frying up enough bacon to complement her bulk-sized serving of Spaghettios.

After leaving the doctor’s office, I sat around flipping through the phone book looking for someone to blame, since it’s obviously not my fault that I’ve literally become a huge burden on society. As I was about to swallow a hypodermic needle and sue my doctor for malpractice, I got to thinking about what he had told me. How could I be so stupid to blatantly ignore what this perfectly qualified man had to offer? For crying out loud, he had at least a year’s worth of Sports Illustrated back issues that I could’ve totally stolen! It was at this point that I also began considering an exercise program.

This wasn’t the conclusion I was hoping for. To this day, I’m looking for a final solution that will keep me looking great, feeling great, and getting paid handsomely without exerting even an ounce of energy. The absence of such a product makes perfect sense when you stop to think about it since energy is measured in joules, not ounces. (Don’t laugh at that. Every time someone laughs at a math joke, a decimal gets added to pi.) A rigorous exercise program seemed rather foreboding, however, as I had recently been expending most of my joules polishing the family’s. But with no miracle product on the horizon, I decided to give exercise the old college try.

After downing enough spiced rum to send Captain Morgan himself overboard, I was ready to start exercising. Fifty dry heaves later, I was convinced the old college try wasn’t the proper avenue for success, even if I did stumble upon a damn good ab workout. What I needed was a goal; something tangible, yet challenging.

My first idea was to create a Utopian society where I would feel comfortable about my body no matter how I looked. I scrapped this idea pretty quickly because it’s hopelessly abstract and my ideal woman has to condition her leg hair at the very least. I also toyed with the idea of joining a health club, setting a weight loss goal of five pounds, and then getting a colonic so I could achieve immediate success. In fact, not far from my apartment, there’s a local branch of a health club chain called L.A. Weight Loss. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to pay someone $30 a month to put me on a steady regimen of cocaine and bulimia, so that option was out.

Despite my initial failures, I kept brainstorming for ideas. “Why don’t I re-discover a past activity and try to do it better than I’d done before?” I asked myself. But what personal record would I strive to break? Basketball was always my best sport, but it doesn’t exactly take the stamina of an Olympian to make a certain number of consecutive free throws. I also played soccer and tennis back in the day and while they both rely heavily on cardiovascular fitness, it’s difficult to set a tangible goal in either.

This got me hearkening back to my freshman year in high school, when I opted for tennis over track and field as a spring sport. All of a sudden it dawned on me. Track and field, a sport that breeds obsession for personal records! It’s what I had been looking for all along! While I hadn’t run track competitively since I was twelve, I’d run plenty of timed miles for various gym classes and team tryouts. I now had a firm goal. I was going to break my personal record in the mile.

In the past, world record holder in the mile has been one of the more prestigious titles in sports. In the spring of 1954, the world was held spellbound as the elite milers from all over vied for the honor of being the first to break four minutes, with Roger Bannister of England being the first to do so. Well, I’m going to do Sir Bannister one better. I’m going to run in the mile in FIVE minutes. That’s right. 25% more running. I ain’t scurred.

I’ll be spending a couple of future issues chronicling my quest for the five minute mile, so follow along as I shave seconds off my mile time, inches off my waistline, and perhaps the hair off my grundle…if I can find a decent hand-held mirror.