A Devil’s Dictionary*

Posted by Filed Under: Fun & Jokes

*Ambrose Bierce’s collection of dark and bitter definitions for common terms.

in the knowSo, the boy’s been playing soccer with Groton Parks and Recreation. The cool bit is that the games are behind the town library. The library’s a new(ish) building by New England standards–late 60’s. (As an aside, it’s pretty freakin’ cool–built in the late ’60s or early ’70s, clearly as a hippie backlash against the first oil crisis. It’s a semi-dugout, with earth piled up against the outside wall for insulation, etc. South-facing windows, all that stuff. Pretty hip). The collection, however, dates back to town’s founding.

One night after Jake’s game, I sent the wife and boys on their way home, and went into the library to look for training information. Nestled between Galloway and Zapotek, I saw an extremely old looking book, “Runner’s Dictionary,” by one P. O’Darkness. I pulled the volume off of the shelf, intrigued by an old book on running that predated the 1970’s, and that didn’t feature guys with feathered bangs, long hair, and bad moustaches in the illustrations. The binding was done in rich corinthian leather, with a golden
imprint on the cover of a man running up a steep hill, seemingly without end.

Holding the book, it felt strangely warm to the touch. I looked around to see if they’d moved the shelf over a heating duct, or if it were in a ray of late afternoon sunlight. The book also had an odd odor; more matches than old book smell. Intrigued, I took it to the counter.

At the counter, I asked the librarian if the book were a new addition to the collection. The librarian told me that it wasn’t; just long overdue. The computer showed it had been turned in on the 62nd anniversery of the Normandy landings. It wasn’t until I had slid it into my satchel that I noticed the unusual weight of the volume.

Later that evening, after baths, books, and bedtime, I cracked open the book and began to read. What follows is a fair use excerpt of the book. I hope that y’all can help me fill in the other entries, as the book has gone missing again…

Workouts: (See “self-flagellation”)

Pace: How runners define speed. A runner’s pace is somewhat faster than a brisk walk, but always slower than the old guy who passes you.

Tempo: A pace slightly faster than you can maintain without tasting vomit in the back of your throat.

Intervals: A training technique in which a runner maintains an internal dialog alternating between “Man I love running I’m really flying today faster faster faster faster yeah! Charge the hill!” and “Oh crap oh crap oh crap I can’t breathe ouch ouch ouch ouch why am I such an idiot *erp* why did I put onion cream cheese on the bagel? Man, I’m gonna get smoked by TRCWTOH (the Running Chick With the Orange Hat) the next time we race.”

Fartleks: *heh heh* he said …

Pre-race: A mindset dominated by fear, loathing and uncertainty.

Race: A mindset reminiscent of indeterminable road trips punctuated by “Are we there yet?”

Post-Race: A mindset characterized by oxygen deprivation, irregular brain chemistry brought on by a surplus of endorphins (similar to a narcotic-induced high) and a voice saying, of its own accord, “Man, that ROCKED. I cannot wait to do that again.”

Fast: A speed goal on everyone’s list, occupied by one’s running partners but always lying just out of reach.

Ultradistance: Where you will find the runners of the undead. Ultradistance is defined as anything beyond 26.2 miles, the distance at which, as proven by Phidippides, people die.

Treadmill: Large appliances, often found in subterranian locations such as basements, capable of handling one human body at a time. See also RACK, IRON MAIDEN, etc.

Barefoot: The triumph of style over technology.

Pose- r

Chi- tr

About Bill Jankowski

Jank is the nom-de-plume (alias) of Bill Jankowski. Jank is a runner (defined as “one who runs”, without any necessary claims of athleticism). More accurate would be to say that he enjoys the company of his iPod, and goes to great lengths to get long periods of time alone with his thoughts. Plus, running is a wonderful way to keep his ego in check. He’s been physically active since he was a kid (assuming that, for the years 1995-1999 and 2001-2003, drinking counts as “active”), playing Soccer, Flag Football, Basketball, and Softball while in college (for his fraternity’s B-team)(Actually, add 1990-1994 to the years of inactivity). In addition to running, Jank swims (controlled drowning), bikes (’cause his mom suggested he play in traffic as a kid), and kayaks (see swimming, but with sharks and props). An engineer by the grace of God, a (recovering) submariner by the graces of the taxpayers of the United States, and an MBA by mistake, Bill enjoys gear (oooh, shiny!), cycling (oooh, shiny bikes and clothes!), and poking at accepted ideas with a pointy stick. In 2004, Jank decided he didn’t want to go full-over to being fat, and took up running (instead of stopping eating). In 2005, he finished his first marathon (WooHoo!) in October, and his second two weeks later (dumb idea). He is still recovering. Bill lives in Connecticut (the poorer, eastern part) with his lovely wife Melissa (who is far more fit than he is and way less navel-gazing about it), and their two sons, Jake and Nate, who, in addition to having deliberately cool names, are the finest children to grace the Earth (clear proof that “evolution through natural selection” is bunk; although he still questions the monthly bill for “Pool Boy” despite not having a swimming pool). His rants can be found at; his best stuff is found here at CRN.

  1. Aaron on October 26th at 6:24 am

    Awesome writing! Very entertaining!

  2. Mark Iocchelli on October 31st at 12:06 am

    hehe. wonderful stuff, Bill. (yeah, i’m WAY behind on my reading).