The Finish Line

In life there are beginnings and there are endings. We never know when those endings will come, and have only so much control over how far we get. I've been dwelling here on and off about how a promising beginning to a set-up with a girl sort of fizzled. I'm still friends with her even though she stopped responding to my e-mails, and have had some mild conversational interaction with her on her public profile page. She did mention yesterday that she started taking some kind of certification course for her job on weekends, which will keep her busy until May, and generally told all her friends why she hasn't been online as much. Now the cynic in me built by past experience might take that as the typical “Oh I can't; I'm washing my hair that night” excuse that girls give, but since it was directed at all her friends I'm not going to be that egotistical or stupid. Sure, it still means she won't have time for more than a casual online friendship, but I'm also going to take it as a more preferable explanation than she thought I was like Hannibal Lecter. It's a definite relief.

Dollhouse limped across the finish line on Friday night with a series finale that was cut short by a few seconds so the cancel-happy network-who-shall-not-be-named-or-linked-to could devote time to a promo for some other crappy show. As finales go, it was probably the purest Whedon that the series was ever allowed to be. Set 10 years in the future, the world is in ruins, and several of our favorites make the ultimate sacrifice to set things right. One death, while not unexpected, demonstrated that “anyone could go at any moment” angle that Whedon's shows are famous for. He managed to cram several of these moments in the last few episodes, making the best use of the time the network gave him. Another sacrifice was telegraphed, but a single “Oh...” before it happened had the same emotional impact on me as ”I am a leaf on the wind.” I can't explain that reference without spoiling another (theatrical) series finale unfortunately, but those who get it know exactly what I'm saying.

I think part of the problem with the ending was that it was a direct sequel to an episode that the network never aired. I suppose fans of the show like myself caught it on DVD, but casual viewers might have felt like they were watching the second half of a two part episode, which was exactly what they were doing. By jumping ahead ten years, we also missed out on some key character development as a villain redeemed himself. Still, it made for a great moment where you were expecting one thing when he showed up, and got something else entirely. I can speculate that something this character did the last time we saw him left an imprint that gradually shifted his psychotic tendencies toward more noble ones, and I'm sure given more time this could have been addressed with an additional scene. My all-time favorite televised Whedon finale is still that of Angel, which was true to the spirit of the series and had a great mix of heartbreaks and comebacks. The one aspect of that finale that many criticize is the lack of closure, and in that regard Dollhouse definitely crossed the finish line and tied up loose ends. I do kind of like the notion that Angel and company were still running the race and fighting the good fight even after we were no longer able to watch, and it wasn't a cheat like The Sopranos’ abrupt cut-off.

As for myself, I've been really pushing myself at the gym this week, finally shedding some holiday pounds and getting back into my groove. I hit a new record of 6.67 miles on Thursday night, partly to see if I could and partly because I wanted to get past 6.66 after having finally seen The Omen the other night. I set a goal for myself of running 7 miles at least once before the year is done and, feeling encouraged from some friends, really strove to make it happen on Friday night. I can usually keep my pace above 6 MPH, but I definitely can't maintain 7 for more than 15-20 minutes, certainly not for an entire hour. I got to 6.96 though, ignoring the pain as my feet blistered, swelling into the seams of my sneakers. I soaked them in some water and epsom salt while I watched my shows on Friday night, and I'll probably shift to low impact for a few days next week before getting back on the treadmill. Still, I set a goal for myself, and I came damn close. Sometimes, getting close to something is enough to realize that something is at least possible. Sometimes, hope is enough of a motivator to not give up, and keep running. If I can see the finish line, someday I can cross it....


Blogger Kev said...

I need to catch the Dollhouse Finale soon.

And, Dude! You are an encouragement for other geeks and nerds to work out! Look at you go! Running almost 7 miles? That is awesome! I can't even run across my yard without getting winded.

1/30/2010 10:13 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

I do so in the geekiest and nerdiest way possible, using both math and an RPG "leveling up" mentality. Basically I pick a minimum speed, say 4.1 MPH which is a brisk walk, and increase that by one tenth of a mile each minute. with 59 minutes remaining if I'm doing 4.1, the last digits of each add up to 10(9+1), so when I'm at 58 minutes I know it should be on 4.2(8+2) and so on. That way if I lose track, I have a quick math shortcut to figure out what my speed should be at any given minute. Yesterday I used 6.1 instead of 4.1 as my starting point, so I covered a lot more ground at the beginning of my run and could go a little slower toward the end.

I know at 6 MPH I can run a 10-minute mile, so once I've worked up to higher speeds & start to feel like I need to slow down a little, I can calculate how much time I have left in my workout and how much I can afford to slow down while keeping my target attainable. Last year when I started seriously running again, the first distance I reached in my 65 minute workout was 5.13, and that was my benchmark for a while. Some days I did better and some days I did worse, but gradually I've worked myself up to where I am now.

Between the TV on the treadmill and the fact that I'm constantly doing math, looking at the time left and distance covered, I can also distract myself and forget that I should be feeling tired or winded; sometimes that stuff is psychological. So any of us can do it. Just get on a treadmill, walk a 1/2 hour a day, and increase that in very small increments over a long period of time.

1/30/2010 11:00 AM  
Blogger Kev said...

heck, I can't even walk 7 miles!

I used to walk for 30 minutes on a treadmill when I had a Y membership...

1/30/2010 3:05 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

There are two problems with your response:

1) You used the word "can't". I you say you can do something, you either can or you can't, but at least there's a chance you can. If you say you can't do something, then you definitely won't.

2) Nobody starts out running 7 miles let alone walking them. Aim for 3-4 miles in a half hour treadmill session, then increase that over time incrementally. Work up to your goal in baby steps. Aiming too high too soon only leads to discouragement, and brings us back to "can't".

1/30/2010 6:56 PM  

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