Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The pitch

Rachel told us to look for Brent in his white "Go Team Rachel.com" tshirt on the right. He was waiting to take a picture of the start.

We were all running in a little pack (just like the lead runners!) on the far right edge of the road, and saw Brent with his big camera up ahead. Unfortunately, he didn't see us. We called out as we passed, and he tried desperately (and unsuccessfully) to snap a picture.

Oh well, I thought.

I had severely underestimated Brent. He put his head down and sprinted around the other spectators and got ahead of us again. He set himself up, aimed his camera, and was ready when we got there to take the perfect shot.

But the shutter was delayed and he missed us again.

Once again, he sprinted ahead. This time, he set up the shot, and as we waved and passed by, the flash went off at just the right moment. Posterity preserved, he yelled some encouragement, and headed back to their beachfront hotel.

Running with David and Rachel I was able to avoid my usual mistake of starting way too fast. We ran at a very comfortable pace for the first mile, and hardly weaved around anybody. At some point in this mile, we spotted "Coatman", who was apparently featured recently in Runner's World, so Rachel jogged ahead to take a picture with her cell phone, and that was the last I saw of her. Well, I saw her back for about the next mile, but she was soon far ahead.

David and I ran together for the first two miles, but when we hit the second mile marker at 9:40, I knew I'd be in trouble if I kept up with him. By the third mile marker, which I think I hit at about 10:10, he was far ahead.

It was dark out, but I was already covered in sweat. Partly because it was muggy, and partly because I was wearing sunscreen, which always makes me sweaty. There was a nice breeze over the water, and except for a couple twinges in my knees, and the hint of some stomach cramps (which plagued me the whole race) nothing hurt.

I had been wearing my headphones from the start, but I didn't turn on the music until I fell behind David. By the fourth mile, I was still energized enough to laugh at the puns in my mix ("Run, Baby, Run" by Sheryl Crow. Am I brilliant, or what?).

The sun was up by the time we rounded South Beach, but it was overcast, so it wasn't quite the spectactular sunrise I was hoping for. I started running with Derek, who asked me what our pace was. At that point, we were averaging about 10:05, I told him.

Derek hadn't trained well for the marathon, he told me, and his friends all had a pool betting on where he'd give up. He was sure he'd finish, though. He planned to take the race in 5 mile increments, and start fresh each time. It was a smart strategy, because, as we all know, the hardest part of a marathon is the psychology. And, in fact, I used Derek's strategy, myself, as I paced myself through the miles.

"So,"I asked him, "Did you bet on yourself in the pool? Did you bet you would finish?"

"No way. I'm not crazy!"


"Do you know what my longest training run was for this marathon?"

"No. How far?"

"Six miles."

Derek stopped at a water stop soon afterwards, (I had my fuel belt, so I kept going) and I didn't see him again. I just searched the partial marathon results, though, and I may be remembering his name wrong, but no "Derek" popped up.

I wasn't worrying too much about my pacing. I hadn't printed out a pace band, but I knew that I had to average 10:17 miles to hit 4:30. My real goal, though, was to run at a sustainable pace, so I figured that as long as I kept my miles over 10 minutes and under 11, I'd be okay.

I was bouncing around, alternating slower and faster miles (mile 5: 10:40, mile 6: 10:05), constantly trying to correct my pace, when all of a sudden, the 10th mile marker appeared, and my watch said 9:30. That was even faster than mile 2 with David, and I didn't feel like I'd been racing at all.

The marker was just before a toll booth on a bridge, and as we ran through, I asked another runner if that mile felt short to him.

"Oh yeah. Every mile will feel shorter from here on out. Sure."

"No, really. I think the mile marker was wrong. Otherwise I'm running too fast."

"Well, I think that was a regular old mile."

So I slowed down. But according to David's race report, that was his fastest mile, too. Plus, the next mile wasn't just slower, it was a LOT slower. I hit mile 11 at something over 11 minutes (11:30 ish? Can't remember exactly). Which may have been because of the cheering station at 10.5, but I'm sticking with my original theory: mile 10 was short.

I started seeing runners with half-marathon finisher's medals, and I started to get very, very jealous. I also started to get very, very panicked that I would somehow miss the turn off and end up crossing the finish line at the half. I kept checking around me to see if there were still other orange bibs (the half marathon bibs were blue).

We passed the finish line on a parallel road and turned right, where I could see, about a minute up, two gigantic arches, labeled "half marathon" and "marathon. Plus there were volunteers yelling for the half marathoners to go left and for the marathoners to go right. Plus there were cartoon footprints on each side, labeled "marathon" and "half marathon."

Somehow, I managed to figure out which way to go.

The windup

I'd say I was already awake when the alarm went off at 4 am, except that I don't remember anything before hearing the beeps. But there was no need to hit the snooze--my heart was racing, and my mind was going at full speed.

I'd laid out all my clothes and accessories in the bathroom so I wouldn't wake Deanna, who was sleeping in the other bed in the guest room. But once I'd gotten dressed, I had a wardrobe-panic, and when I went back in to the room to get different shorts, Deanna was already awake.

So, of course, she had to be consulted on the big crisis. I went with my original shorts. Whew. See how hard this marathon running is, y'all? Twenty-six miles, schmenty-six miles. The real question: what should I wear?

My father was waiting for me downstairs, and after grabbing a banana and a PB&J sandwhich (and a half), I was ready to go. Deanna decided to drive to the start with us, and she took some great photos.

The car was reporting the temperature at 73 degrees, which I didn't like at all. It dropped to 71 by the time we got to the start. Still plenty warm. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt that I'd hoped I'd need in the predawn start, but it was muggy and warm when I hopped out of the car, so I left it in the back seat to change into after the race.

It was 5 am on the dot, and I was still carrying two halves of the sandwhich. David and I had arranged to meet at the first aid tent at 5:30. You can tell that was my brilliant idea, because of course, there WAS NO first aid tent at the start. I still swear I remember reading that in the brochure.

For the past three days, I'd been driving my family crazy with my obsessive eating habits. ("Hey, Naomi, I bought some good cheese. You want some?" "No! Not until after the marathon!"/ "Want a glass of wine with dinner?" "Sunday! Not until Sunday.") And I'd been drowning myself in gatorade and water like it was my last chance to drink EVER.

So even though I didn't drink anything that morning, (I was trying to avoid having to stop during the race) I still made two trips to the portapotties before 5:30.

I walked back to the water and gatorade tables, hoping to spot David or Rachel. David had told me that he'd be wearing a sleeveless yellow shirt (surprisingly unhelpful when there are hundreds of AIDS marathoners in yellow singlets) and that Rachel would be wearing a pink top.

After a couple false alarms, I finally spotted David, who gave me a big, excited hug, and immediately took a picture for the blogs.

Can you believe I'm still writing, and the race hasn't started yet? Well, the good news is that a lot of the race is a blur (because I was hot and tired, not because I was going so fast) so I won't manage to be quite this detailed later.

Rachel didn't mosey into the corral until moments before the race began (something about spending time with her incredibly supportive, very cool, husband. Yeah, I don't get it either...) but David spotted her right away (and took a picture of the three of us.)

Finally (finally!) the flare guns went off, and the race began. It took about three minutes to cross the start line, and only about 10 seconds for me to remember to start my watch.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Still not the recap

(Click on the photo to get to the rest of the pictures.)

I should mention, of course, that in addition to my lovely family and Deanna, I had the pleasure of running (the first mile or so) with David and Rae, two supremely cool runner/bloggers (which you already know).

Shown here with David's two O-town buddies.

All of which helped make this, my last ever marathon (why do we say things, if not to eat our words later?), as fun as can be.

I'd like to announce my retirement

4:44:36—my official chip time. I'm tired, sweaty, and a little covered in sea salt (oh, the ocean, how do I love thee) but I'm very, very happy.

But no time for updating. The hot tub awaits.

Friday, January 27, 2006

T-Minus 33 hours and counting

I've discovered the cure to my getting tired problem. It's called running two miles. Honestly? I thought about running in my street clothes--the time I spent changing into gear and showering afterwards outlasted, by far, the actual time spent running.

It was kind of fantastic. And I made sure to enjoy it as much as possible, since the next time I put those running shoes on, they're going to stay on for quite a bit longer.

Currently the panic-meter is on the low side. I've been worried about the how the temperature would affect me, but the weather has been gorgeous, and it is really quite cool in the morning. Add to that how much lighter I feel wearing shorts and a tank top compared to the multiple layers I needed to stay warm in DC, and I'm feeling good.

I think of this as my selfish marathon—I'm not raising money for any charity, and my reasons for doing this are completely self-absorbed (and kind of silly). Despite this, I'm am lucky enough to be surrounded by incredibly generous people, who are making this experience worlds better than I deserve.

One of which, of course, is Deanna, and if you're curious to know why I rave about her so much, go read the comment she left on my last post. The girl needs a blog, so she can be a part of the RBF, is all I'm saying.

She needs to join the RBF, by the way, because it is pretty much the best running community a girl could belong to, (did you like how I did that? Segue QUEEN is what you should call me). I will be forever grateful to the little RBF logo/link I followed from the (sadly, on hiatus) folks at Longest Mile, which led me to all you fabulous people. If you want to know why I rave about YOU so much, go read the comments you left on my last post.**

My family, though they continue to be baffled by all my running, are proving how supportive they can be (at least the marathon isn't in Africa, my mother would tell me, if she knew that there WERE marathons in Africa). If you could only see the grocery list I sent my poor mother of all the food I needed to have this weekend, including gatorade, whole wheat pasta, all-natural peanut butter, and many, many, many other things. And how much of the food am I actually going to manage to eat this weekend? Let's not worry about that, m'kay?

My older brother, currently sitting next to me on the couch, has flown all the way from NY (taking two days off from his busy life as a real estate lawyer) to carry extra water bottles and cheer for me. And he would do more, except that I have conscripted my father into many of the least rewarding jobs, including driving me to the start line on Sunday morning, BEFORE the crack of dawn. And he's coming back two-and-a-half hours later with my brother and Deanna, because I was afraid they would get lost in Miami and not make it to mile 16 in time. (I'm neurotic. We know this by now.)

He has also given me the world's coolest gift: his digital camera. (He has an electronics recycling program—whenever he wants to buy something new, he passes the old version to one of his children. Can you tell how spoiled I am?)

Ostensibly, the camera is for Africa. But I'm already putting it to use to bore you, my dear interweb readers.

Remember how I told you I brought two pairs of running shoes? And remember how you thought that was a stupid waste of space? And remember how I agreed with you, but couldn't bring myself to choose between my sturdy, reliable Asics, and my beloved Mizunos, which I wore in the first marathon, and which I've rotated in for my longest training runs?

Well I when I pulled my shoes out of my suitcase, I realized that I really shouldn't have bothered bringing both pairs. Sadly, the Muzunos are no more:

Rest in peace, my favorite, lime green sneakers.

Long live the Asics (shown here at a crrrrazy angle... I may have to get used to this new camera thing). They're heavier, and not as cute, but as of Sunday, they will have run a marathon.

Next time I type here, I will be wearing this:

As described on the Miami marathon web site: The most unique finisher's medal ever designed for runners. The 2006 medal is amazing, it has a double spin! The center spins and so does the bottom. Miami is the official home of the original spinner.

Tell me you're not jealous.

**Tim, for the purposes of this thank you, I'm counting you as a member of the RBF. You're a member of my running family, and you have blog. QED.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Okay, I have two confessions to make:

The first is that I still haven't packed one, single, solitary box. I have no good excuse--unless you think the fact that I fell asleep while watching Yes, Dear reruns in the afternoon sounds promising? No? I mean, that's not what happened or anything, but if it sounded like a potential excuse, I'd go with it.


The second is that I might (just possibly) be slightly more nervous for this marathon than I've been letting on.

I wasn't lying about how my attention was mostly focused elsewhere. Planning for Africa has been very time consuming. But it's also been a lot of fun, and I feel like everything is falling into place in a surprising, but very enjoyable way.

But this marathon... It occurred to me as I packed every single pair of running shorts I own and two (two!) pairs of running shoes in my very petite suitcase, that maybe, possibly, a very teeny part of me is just the teensiest bit nervous.

Every run for the past two weeks has felt terrible. My legs feel heavy. I feel tired. I can't finish five miles without wanting to stop. I don't stop, but I want to. Which bodes ill for the 26 miles I have to run in a few days.

But what are my options? Not running? Not likely. And do I really think that I won't finish the marathon? Well, not unless something really awful happens. So maybe it'll take me longer than I hope. Maybe it'll even take me longer than it took last time. That wouldn't be the end of the world, right?

If that happens, though, and then I sign on here and tell you how I have to run another marathon, so I can get my goal time, or some other similar nonsense? You have my permission to flame me in the comments.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Maybe I'll just stay here...

So the marathon is less than a week away, and I have yet to pack a single box.

How, you might wonder, is box-packing relevant to marathon-preparation? A very good question, my very astute readers.

The answer is that it's probably not particularly relevant. But, my head, she isn't so much in the marathon-panicking, these days. She's pretty pre-occupied with the Africa-planning and the move-out-procrastinating. It leaves surprisingly little time for tapering. I haven't even checked the weather forecast once--although David sent it out on Saturday along with a weekend schedule (the man is impressively organized!). High 60s and rainy. I haven't decided how I feel about that yet.

Luckily, tapering is easy. My "long" run on Saturday was six miles. That's shorter than many of my weekday runs were during the peak of training. It was a total breeze.

Actually, that's an utter lie. It *should* have been a total breeze. It was a warm day. I lazed out of the house at around 11:30, and ran in Rock Creek Park, which is right by my house. Six miles is barely an hour of running, and that route is the flattest possible in my neighborhood.

And yet? Not so easy. I don't know what the deal is, but my legs felt leaden. I haven't been drinking enough water lately. And it was awfully humid, which is something I've become delightfully unaccustomed to, over the last few winter months. Plus, I'd been munching all morning (oranges, apricots, and carrots... can you overdose on Vitamin A? Because everything I eat these days is orange. And I have a sweet potato calling for me to eat it for dinner...)

So some of those are fixable. I will be hydrating to within an inch of my life for the next few days (that was needlessly dire, and also cliched. Hmm.) which should help. And I will have a reasonable pre-race breakfast of some sort.

But the heat and humidity? Well, there's nothing I can really do about that. I've decided that this unseasonably warm and humid weather in DC is a blessing, because I will be more used to it when I get to Miami. Don't know if it'll really help, but thinking it will can't hurt, right? I mean, right?

Meanwhile, back to the real point. I am moving out of my apartment two weeks from tomorrow, and I have yet to pack a single box. But I doubt that will be a problem. I'll just pack when I get back from the marathon. It should only take, what? An hour or two? Tops?

On another note, I'm hosting a party on the Tuesday after the marathon. It should be a rocking good time. I'll provide the music, the munchies, the... packing tape.... BYOB** Friends and significant others welcome!

**Bring your own boxes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This just in....

From the Boston Globe correspondent in Africa, re: living in Dakar:

One of the great benefits to being there is that it's almost impossible not to get swept up in the physical fitness craze. Thousands of young people every day run or work out along the water, especially near the university. So if you're a runner, or like volleyball, or lift weights, you'll find plenty of company.

It's fate, I tell you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

[/whiny rant]

So I was really getting into my grump yesterday. I was on a roll, and I wasn't stopping, even hours later. And then I was on the phone with a friend, and I started to get really self-righteous about how I had a follow-up appointment with a travel doctor today, and (don't forget to imagine my withering tone) how I was paying HUNDREDS of dollars for the PRIVILEGE (said with devastating sarcasm) of having my arm jabbed repeatedly with pointy sticks.

Except that as soon as I said it, I realized that -- and I'm sorry for getting all, "Teacher says that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings" on you -- actually it is a huge privilege to be able to pay any amount of money for these vaccinations. Because the reason I need them is that there are real people dying from these very real diseases, and because I was born here and because of some pretty amazing science, I will be protected from all of them, having suffered nothing more than a hit to my bank account and a few jabs from a pointy stick.

And the rest of my whining? Well, it's some pretty high class problems I'm facing, what with the computer and the car and the iPOD that are costing me SOOO much money, and...

So I'm done with the complaining, is what I'm saying. Or at least the complaining about money.

Which leaves me with not a lot to talk about right now. My running has been utterly routine lately. No funny stories there. There was the time that I ran in Pittsburgh and I did some drills on the track and... no wait, that's not interesting.

You know what? Go read the rundown. There's lots of runners with better stories than me. And Derek needs some hosts in the coming weeks, so if you haven't written a rundown before, consider volunteering. I've done it twice, and it's super fun.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Okay, this sucks.

It’s not like I didn’t know I’d have to spend money this month. It’s not like I didn’t know that my rent would be due or my cell phone bill or that I’d want to go out with friends and that often involves restaurants and movies or that I’d need to buy stuff I needed to bring to Africa with me.

I planned on all of this. I factored it in. I have money. And there will be money being spent in Dakar, because despite what everyone thinks, it’s a big city, with big city rent and prices, and I knew this.

And then my iPod broke. (And by the way, all you marathon runners, hard-drive-based mp3 players break when you run with them. They didn't tell me that when I bought it. But it's true. They. break.) But I am Apple’s bitch, and I don’t want not to have an iPod. So I bought a nano.

But I need a voice recorder for the being a journalist thing, and the new iPods don’t work with the microphone attachments that were made for the old iPods (not that I had a microphone attachment for my old iPod, but I was going to buy one). So now I need to buy a tape recorder or a digital voice recorder or go without.

And then my car got towed. And then I was driving home and I backed into (VERY slowly) the front bumper of some guy from Sierrra Leone’s car and ended up giving him money (and by the way, he’s single and lonely, and would love it if I called him, as he said, “all the time”) and it’s a long story, and I was tired, and I would have handled it completely differently now that I’ve thought it over, but I didn’t know what to do and he took advantage of it, and well, there’s another $100 gone.

And then I noticed that my brakes were… whistling? I could describe it if I were on CarTalk and on the radio, but I don’t really have the words for it here, so that’s the best I’m going to do. But let’s just stop there and note that brakes shouldn’t make any noises, whether or not Click and Clack, the Tappett brothers, could decipher it on the radio. And I only need the car for another three weeks, but afterwards my parents need it, and I will not be the deadbeat daughter that hands over a broken car all, yeah, sorry, you’re going to want to get that looked at, and by the way, you’ll probably want to fill up the gas tank and get the oil changed, so that’s another $330.

And my stupid Powerbook that is tiny and perfect and wonderful, that I’ve hardly ever used since college because I don’t really have internet at home and I used my computer at work all day, but that is really useful now that I’m… what am I calling it? “Self-employed”? Well the battery doesn’t hold a charge, and it turns out that the battery isn’t covered under the extended service warrantee that came with my computer when I bought it, so that’s another $130.

And my vaccinations (Hep A, Meningitis, Polio) aren’t covered by my insurance, which I knew, but it turns out that each month of the malaria medication (which is not available in generic, so that’s $40) counts as a separate prescription (so that’d be 3 x $40), and the insurance will only cover a month at a time, so I may be able to argue for them to cover the second month, but I’ll probably have to pay for the third month out of pocket (since I don't want to depend on getting it filled once I'm in Dakar), and that’ll be $200.

And I still haven’t bought most of the things I need to buy for my trip, or the things I need for my move, or I don’t know, there are still three weeks for the transmission to fall out of my car or to get arrested or who the hell knows what else.

It’s okay. I can still pay for this. I will not end up penniless in Africa. But I forgot this feeling, when there’s nothing coming in and the outflow is more of a gush than an orderly, planned for trickle.


Meanwhile, I haven’t updated here, and I haven’t been keeping up with all your blogs, but I’m thinking of you all and also excited for the marathon. I’m enjoying the taper much more this time around, and I have sworn this is the last marathon I’ll ever run (most people just roll their eyes and point out that that’s what I said the last time), and in a month I’ll be in Dakar, and that’s just incredible. And in the meantime, please note that Deanna, the world’s greatest running buddy, has started visiting and commenting on this blog, so please feel free to say hello to her in the comments. La vie courante (not sure if that means what I want it to, but oh well) est belle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Burying the lede

Here's why I like having friends. At last Satudays (super) long run, Deanna met me for the second half, and asked me how I had enjoyed my last day at work.

Naomi: It was great. Except... Dude, I'm unemployed! I'm not sure this was a good plan.
Deanna: Nuh-uh. You're SELF-employed.

See? Much better.

I've got to admit, I'm loving this carefree, work-at-home, go-to-Pittsburgh-to-hang-out-with-friends lifestyle. On Monday I didn't get out of my PJs until at least noon. This morning, my friends (Kate and Pat) and I went out for the world's most delicious crepes (filled with chocolate and bananas and pure joy). And yet? There is work getting accomplished. I am a contact-making, email-sending, freelance-work-looking-for machine. Part of me (a very small but insistent part) keeps thinking that this is going to work, this stringer thing. And the rest of me doesn't care, because whatever it is I'm doing, it's way more fun than going to work.

Of course, eventually I'll have to face reality and figure out how to earn a living. But for now? I'm loving life.

And this is when you should start to get suspicious. Or at least, this is when I should start to know better.

Naomi: Wow. Things are awesome. I am awesome. Quitting your day job RULEZ!
Universe: Oh wait. What? Sorry, that's totally my cue.
Naomi: Seriously. I've been gloating for like three days over here. What's going on? Hey, wait, are you... drunk?
Universe: NO! Okay, maybe a little. But it's the holidays. Champagne for EVERYONE!
Naomi: Dude. It's January 10th. It's time to get back on the wagon.
Universe: Nawwww. Aw. Fine. Anyway, I heard you, and I've taken care of it.
Naomi: THANK you. I was getting worried. Wait. What did you do.
Universe: Nothing. Just... Do you remember where you parked your car?
Naomi: Yeah, right in front of Kate and Pat's house. Total rockstar parking.
Universe: Mmhmmm.
Naomi: No, really? It's gone! My car. Is gone. It was parked there, and now it's not. Where the HELL is my car?
Universe: Later!

On Monday, when Kate and I went out for our run, the car was there. We double-checked the signs, determined that street cleaning wouldn't be an issue, and went on our way. On Tuesday, I was returning from a solo run, and there my car... Wasn't.

I walked further up the block, but still... no car. I went back to where I was pretty sure I had parked, and... it really wasn't there. For real. Not just making this up over here. Car was gone.

So... it was... stolen? Look. I have a bit of a reputation for losing things among my family. Things that I have lost, include (but are surely not limited to):
every single spring jacket I owned in middle school
my wallet (twice. or... three times? does it count if it everntually gets returned but you've already cancelled the credit cards?)
a contact lens (or two)
socks (in singles and pairs)
my college ID card (but I think it was probably in one of the lost wallets, so it totally shouldn't count twice)

Of course, we should contrast that with things that i have (surprisingly) never lost, including:
my keys
my glasses
my sanity (debatable)

and—until this afternoon at about 4:45 pm—my car. (Although, there was one time when I forgot what street I parked it on, and panicked for about five minutes, until I found it a block over. But that definitely doesn't count.)

But today? The car was not there. (Are we clear on this plot point yet?)

I was cheerily panicked and pissed, and already contemplating how I was going to get home from Pittsburgh (bus?) and, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much it SUCKED to have your car stolen, right when you needed it to do stuff, like drive home from Pittsburgh, when Kate pointed out that there was a fresh tree stump directly across the street from the (now empty) parking spot. Maybe the car had gotten towed?

Kate decided to keep walking around the neighborhood to see if it had been towed around the block somewhere, while Pat and I returned to the apartment to call the police. 9-1-1 promised to pass the message on to the local precinct and have them call me, and I resolved to take a shower.

Twenty minutes later, the police hadn't called back, and Kate had returned empty handed. But I was determined. My car hadn't been stolen. It had just been towed. So back out the door we went, to knock on the door of the house with the tree stump and see what we could find out.

And, although there was no one home when we rang, another neighbor across the street informed us that she'd seen some signs that morning about the tree and about the no-parking. Riiiiight.

So... We eventually tracked down the tow pound (if I hadn't picked up my car in a week, would they have had to put it down?) where I was able to ransom it for $110. The woman claimed I could contest the ticket for $90 that I would find on my windshield, but with the whole, not living in Pittsburgh-thing, and the whole leaving-the-country-thing, I'm not sure how practical that will be. Of course, it's complicated, because there actually was no ticket on my windshield. Curiouser, and curiouser, I say.

My heart wants to believe that I just didn't get a ticket, and the $110 towing fee is the only penalty I'll have to pay for not checking on my car HOURLY, which is apparently what you have to do in this RIDICULOUS town. But....

Universe: No, totally. That's EXACTLY how it works.

Yeah, I didn't think so.