Saturday, August 12, 2017

I'm Dame Nature, Not Cause I Hate Ya!

Mother nature is apparently fed up with this baseball season just as much as I am. So much so she replaced Ohio's usual 85 degree August temperature (and electric blanket-like humidity) with a taste of fall just as preseason football began. And just like that, it suddenly became late September/early October as we watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame game and had a week's worth of 70 & 60 degree temps.

The August week that wasn't. Mother Nature took
a vacation - and it was weird
It has been odd to not only turn off the air conditioner, but to also close some windows at night because it was just too August. I'm sure a return to reality is just around the corner, but this proves Mother Nature can do what she wants, when she don't mess with her (hey, Sharknados can happen man!).

And I'm not going to complain because it does make it more comfortable to train and run without feeling like you are melting or having to peel sweat soaked clothes off like the removal of a second skin. Still, though, I really don't want to see October know...OCTOBER.

This unexpected weather break proceeded the Columbus Half Marathon 10K + 5K on August 12th. Now, I took part in the 10K portion of this race - which shouldn't come a surprise - but there is reasoning behind, just follow along.

Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades for 24/7 Action, by using my promo code: SIMPSON We also secure 11 meals to fight hunger through Feeding America with every order placed.

This was also a return to the same location as the "THE" It's NOT the Hilliard Classic Half Marathon 10K & 5K  which took place in June and was ridiculously hot & humid. We traced portions of the same route, but instead of an out and back process - the course for this race was manufactured into a loop. Which, in my opinion, is best because retracing the same route can get old and make the race seem longer, messing with your mind.

The 10K race route, along the banks of Alum Creek.
I have focused on races of 10K and shorter, to go along with my running routine, to prepare for an upcoming half marathon. I just don't want to run 13.1 miles, I want to challenge myself to do the best I can and not just be "a finisher". Working on pacing, stride and strength at shorter distances can help with what needs work at longer distances - or at least that's my thinking (I'm not a trainer, nor do I play one on tv).

Most of those long training runs have been comfortable and I'm happy with the progress, as well as how they could relate to a 1 hr 30 min.-ish half marathon. I believe I still need to work on better pacing to reach anywhere near that time frame. This is where the 10K comes into play.

This was also a bit of change. I typically attend races by myself: I warm up, run, finish, recover, people watch, then go home. This time, however, the new-ish girlfriend asked if she could come along. I don't have a problem with this, but in my thinking just going to watch isn't exactly a blast. Though, she was interested and being a sports fan in general she knew it would be a lot of waiting around with only a few handful of chances to yell at me to pick up the pace and get my a** in gear. But she was game and hanging out in midsummer next to Alum Creek, the beach, race day activities and flood wall with excellent vistas left her plenty to take in while waiting for my lankiness to finish. It would be a different, yet welcomed, change.

Columbus Half Marathon 10K + 5K
race shirt and bib
I was hoping there would be a few more rabbits to feed off of in order to assist with reaching a decent pace and maintaining it. And a Traffic Panther teammate from last April's The Buck Fifty 24 Hour, 150 Mile Relay was on hand, but Gary was running the half marathon portion, so assistance from him wasn't likely going to happen. Luckily, there were a couple of super fast half marathoners who led the way pulling the rest of us along.

Two of those guys disappeared almost instantaneously into the morning horizon, a third pulled up along side of me and we fed off of one another until we reached the 10k turnaround at about the 3 1/2 mile mark. This helped tremendously regarding keeping a decent pace (5:56, 6:09, 6:15, 6:16). He continues on as I high five him, reverse course and pass the remaining 10kers and half marathoners on my way back.

From this point on it was up to me to attempt keeping a decent pace and it was not easy trying to get the stragglers to understand I was heading back towards them. At times, it was like trying to part the Red Sea - except the Red Sea didn't want any part of it. I just kept my head down and watched, from my peripheral, runners & joggers dodge me at the last moment.

I was able to sort of keep myself afloat at the pace I wanted the last two miles (6:29, 6:31), but was obviously slower as I was on an island and finished the better part of five minutes ahead of the next 10k participant. My official finish time of 38:58 ended up being my second best 10k time (the PR took place at the Columbus 10K earlier this year). My Traffic Panthers teammate, Gary, finished 7th overall for the half marathon in a time of 1:26:52.

So, it has come to this - it is now all systems go for the Scioto River Run Half Marathon taking place next month. I knew I had to break the seal sooner or later. Its like the unexpected relationship that pounces when you least expect it. At first you aren't sure its something that should be cultivated (since your past relationships scream 'this has no chance to succeed!'), but the more it evolves - the more you realize it cannot be denied and you want it to happen (and it has with tremendous success thus far).

Toothy fish out of water (picture taken while I was in Costa Rica
a few weeks ago). Is this how I'm going to look in September?
Now will this 13.1 mile albatross I have my sights set on work the same way? Or will I forever damage my relationship with running by pretending a half marathon - and one at a semi-competitive pace - is simply a matter of letting it happen?

Come September 23rd...break me open...

The night makes promises
that daylight cannot keep…I know.
Just like the haunted dreams
that taunt me in my sleep…you know.

I can barely breathe.
Can't make a sound.
Every wall comes up
when the sun goes down

Break me open.
Crack the code of my emotion.
Break me open.
Cut the vein that's kept me frozen.

I'll surrender.
I've been drowning long enough.            
Break me open.
'Til my heart is bleeding love.

I see those stubborn rays
force their way through dark window shades.
Lyin' in bed I pray
The light in me escapes the same            

Gotta let it out.
I don't wanna hide
the solitary man
locked up inside

Break me open.
Crack the code of my emotion.
Break me open.
Cut the vein that's kept me frozen.

I'll surrender.
            I've been drowning long enough.            
Break me open.
'Til my heart is bleeding love.

A soul awakening
that's what I'm searching for
Shine a smile in the shadows
and I'm forever yours

Break me open.
Crack the code of my emotion.
Break me open.               
Shock my body into motion.

I'll surrender.
Go ahead, invade my space.      
Break me open.
Baby, you can change my fate. 

Break me open.
Crack the code of my emotion.
Break me open
Break the spell that kept me frozen.

I surrender.
You're the one to pull me through.
Break me open.

Love me into lovin' you.

Randomness: During a discussion on lack of artistic
ability, Lauren (the girlfriend) challenged me to draw
Ben Franklin playing catch with a chainsaw.
This was the result.
Runnin' Summer 2017 Tour

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chifrijo Land Shark: Married Man Seeks Spotted Rooster

Costa FREAKIN' Rica - this is where my mid-July half-marathon training took place. Never did I think, when I started running again one year ago July 16th, I would be going "on location" to run.


"Spotted rooster" or Gallo Pinto

Casado or "married man"

Well, it wasn't about running, it was a family vacation - BUT STILL - with the half marathon in September inching closer, what better way to break up the monotony of running in and around Central Ohio then to visit a rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. From July 15th thru July 22nd, I was in paradise and even put in some miles (key word: some).

The fateful random message which began my
running re-evolution.
All of this began July 16th, 2016 with a text message from Mark, a high school friend & cross country and track teammate. He was putting together a team for the inaugural The Buck Fifty 150 Mile Team Relay which took place last April in our hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio. I gave myself a hard running start date of August 1st and have been running five times a week since.

Once we completed The Buck Fifty (we finished 19th out of 38 teams), I continued the running thing because one can't just build up then simply bottom out. I have a competitive nature, I couldn't allow myself to do that. Now I've completed nearly an entire year with plans to continue on and found myself in Central America on vacation...and still running.

Las Catalinas, Costa Rica is just like Marion, Ohio - that is if Marion were tropical, closer to the Equator, mountainous and bordered by the blue/green, warm and salty entity called the Pacific Ocean. In Marion, it would take 8 to 10 days to reach 1,000 feet of total elevation with whatever routes you selected. The first full day in Las Catalinas and a 4 1/2 mile run along the beaches & mountain bike trails generated nearly 800 feet of climbing. Needless to say I ran shorter routes at a slower pace because I didn't want to spontaneously combust from the humidity and, too, I was on vacation. I'm not one who sweats profusely, but when finished I looked like I had just climbed out of the ocean and my body continued to secrete sweat - a human sieve.

Our resort, surrounded by the killer hills
All totaled, I covered over 2,300 feet of elevation with just four short jaunts in Costa Rica. It did get hot technically, but the humidity was the killer. Each morning, everything had a nice film of moisture on it. You began sweating instantaneously and slid on any and all hard surfaces. Our villa had three stories with the community area & deck on the second floor and my bathroom on the top floor. So climbing stairs all week, along with running what resembled dry creek beds, left the legs weary and sore. I'm not complaining, but it was obvious I wasn't in Ohio any more.

Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades for 24/7 Action, by using my promo code: SIMPSON  We also secure 11 meals to fight hunger through Feeding America with every order placed.

The food, wow the food. I ate so much, though in retrospect in was a good thing. The energy was needed for the browsing along the mountain bike/hiking trails of which I covered in some portion every day. Any and all intake was quickly extinguished through seemingly simple activity. Simple, that is, for folks used to escalator-like terrain. Not so simple for we Midwest flatlanders. Breakfasts of eggs, beans & rice, fresh fruit, queso, corn tortillas and salsa were scarfed to the point of bursting. You laugh, but an hour later you were starving again. The human energy draining Central American atmosphere can cause one to question their sanity (or if you are like me, question whether you want to actually return to the landlocked Buckeye State...damn, I "lost" my passport).

Dinner on the beach view
Road running is not ideal here, most trips (navigated by hotel/resort employees) were along pot holed, mock roads which would destroy suspensions in any make or model of vehicle. Riding in these vehicles wore you out just as much as physical activity would. That doesn't mean you couldn't run on these roads, but doing it frequently means you have no regard for your personal well-being and don't value human life. Getting lost in the jungle on what used to be a trail and avoiding the country's twelve species of venomous snakes and clans of howler monkeys were more my cup of tea.

If anything, you cannot beat the beauty of the ocean, sky and sunset here. Every halfway decent picture looks like a painting or some graphic design mock-up. It is way to easy to be as lazy as humanly possible and just sit, stare and people watch all day. Oh, and since Costa Rica does not observe daylight savings, sunrise is at 5 a.m. and it disappears not too long after 7 p.m. - it is going to be a pain in the rear when I return to the states. Missing the silky, black, volcanic sand beaches and sunbathing, rooftop iguanas are another thing.

Using the nieces & nephew as photo props
Boogie boarding was ideal the last couple of days with the crazy surf, but not without some mixed results. My brother needed a doctor's opinion regarding a large thigh bruise sustained when hurdled into a some tree limbs high on the beach (the surf was wild and sometimes violent). He was diagnosed with a hematoma. If you know us at all, this is a normal away from home occurrence. A needle the size of a sabre filled with super fun stuff later and everything was back in times we have.

There have been an enormous amount of changes since running came back to bite me - it continues to nibble. And if you knew me this time last year, you would be blown away by the level of personal growth, not to mention relationship upheaval and improvement. The running thing has allowed for more clear thinking and the tucking away of (for the most part) negative thoughts and mindset.

I've met new people, have more activities to do, go places more often and I'm enjoying myself more. And I've met (actually, I was tracked down) a like mind who knows exactly where I'm coming from...and its made for a rather exciting past couple of weeks (and hopefully much longer).

What the future entails, I don't know but I'm eager for whatever is in's gonna be bright.

I wanted to live, so I pretended to die.
I had to shut down cash out and get buried alive.
Out of the black and into the daylight
You had to dig me out, dust me off and pull me off the cross and
Break me back open, break me back open, look inside
Break me back open, break me back open, shine a light,
It's gonna be bright

It's gonna get loud (it's gonna get loud, it's gonna get loud)
It's gonna get heavy (it's gonna get loud, it's gonna get heavy)
I wanna to kiss the ground and lay down the gospel according to St. me
I'm out of the vault (out of the vault, out of the vault)
Where no one can fault me (out of the vault, where no one can fault me)

I'm not a black box fort knox time to change the locks
And break me back open, break me back open look inside
You've got to break me back open, break me back open and shield your eyes
Yeah when you kick the door open, kick it wide open,

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red, White & BOOM - Goes the Microwave on the Beach

We are a little more than halfway through 2017 and July 4th weekend has come with ultimate signs of summer: grilling, cold beers, fireworks, my four year apartment anniversary (Holy crap, its been four years!) and melting your way to fun in the sun.

On July 2nd, I spent the day at Alum Creek State Park Beach swimming, catching some rays and enjoying the summer scene. Though part of that scene was interrupted for a short time. I took a picture of my view to brag to friends....sand, water, blue sky and whatnot. Then about ten minutes later, as the beach is getting more packed, this family trots in with a full table & chairs (no joke), umbrellas and - what I assume to be - their entire kitchen and plop down about 20 feet in front of me.

Top picture: my initial great view. Bottom picture: the view to
my right after having to move. They set up where the
yellow inner tube, above, had been.
I sat there astounded for a few minutes before dragging my towel and bag of maybe three things far enough to the left to avoid staring at the back of their heads the rest of the afternoon. I can see bringing such things for a picnic, but they decided to set up in the middle of a crazily crowded beach. I didn't dwell on it, but I have never witnessed such a douche like beach move. At least it didn't ruin my day.

Oh, and did I mention summer is also high time for training?

Now I don't know what I do would be referred to as training, but I think it fits the bill. I still see it as just getting back into running again, but since its been nearly a year - it may have moved up a notch. I started some upper-body resistance workouts on my own, though I did so by total accident. Searching through a cabinet in the laundry room/basement of my complex, I found a resistance band/tube which apparently had been left there some time ago (as in years).

Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades for 24/7 Action, by using my promo code: SIMPSON  We also secure 11 meals to fight hunger through Feeding America with every order placed.

Not sure how I would use it, I played with it until I found something that made sense. I place my feet over top of the middle of the band, standing upright with my arms in the running position and holding onto the handles. Moving my arms back and forth I get the resistance right away without an exaggerated running form. I do a 300 to 400 count and I can feel it when I'm finished. I don't know if I'm being overzealous about it, but I have been able notice keeping form better on long runs which equates to more even splits. I am by no means a trainer - criminy, I'm barely a runner - but it has given me a bit of confidence boost regarding the 13.1 mile abyss I've been examining (September, stop staring at me!).

Independence Day morning at Olentangy Orange
High School.
This, along with some plank exercises I've been doing nearly every morning for the last two years (and did so totally on a whim), have helped tremendously regarding core strengthening. It has also absolutely eliminated the side stitch issue I was plagued with throughout high school and a little in college. Looking into being a "real" runner again, I was wanting to add some speed workouts. Though, from past experiences, these are better conducted in a group than by yourself. To cover this base, I decided on a shorter July 4th weekend four mile race: competition, speed and some fun.

The Freedom 4 Miler on Independence Day in Lewis Center would have both the start and finish take place in the Olentangy Orange High School Football Stadium. Our route would wind through the surrounding Orange Township neighborhood. Readying myself and scanning the crowd I see a number of Columbus Running Company folks as well as a plethora of Orange High School Cross Country & Track members. At the gun, it was difficult to keep things reeled in as those freakin' high school nuts went out like bottle rockets. I half heartedly went with them, but scaled back a bit into a comfort zone along side a Columbus Running Company member who looked to be about my age.

The Freedom 4 Miler super fun race route, in the
shadow of  Interstate 71 (the

Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati connector),
 just north of the Polaris Fashion Place
 mall area.
Out front were a handful of adults who knew what they were doing, then a number of prep runners and followed by a mix of us - including me. My first mile was too fast, but I did scale back a bit so it wasn't completely crazy at 5:38. It help to be in a group of folks to avoid the overthinking. Around two miles, our group began to thin out, but just enough to be by yourself, not completely lost. The halfway point came in at 12:00 on the dot.

It was weird, I felt sort of worn out (as it was humid & sunny) but I didn't have a problem with keeping a decent pace. This, I thought, would help in future running endeavors. The 5K mark put me at 18:36 and in my crappy eyesight of a number of prep runners along with an adult or two. Though, I didn't have the urge to turn it on and try to catch them. Rather, I wanted to pick up the pace to see how much of a negative last split I could generate. I didn't catch anyone, but I did end up reeling in several of the high school dudes.

My final mile was completed in 5:55 giving me a finish, a 4 mile PR for me, of 24:35. The course was nearly completely flat, but quite winding. Keeping some of those preps in sight helped to determine direction. Before leaving, I loaded up on bananas and a variety of bagels - which is a mistake. I'm a bread person and could have eaten so much more, but I stopped after getting some cross eye looks. There, too, may have been a handful in my bag as well.....I have NO IDEA how they go there.

Hey, I'm only human.

That gray blur at the finish, its me.
I was happy with the results, more importantly I was satisfied my thee day old shoes worked out well. I couldn't feel the road as much since these have actual tread on them and aren't disintegrating, also I was able to focus on pace and keep it up without paying for it later. Oh, and Columbus' Channel 6 was on hand for their morning show. A college buddy of mine is a producer for the show and by total happen chance he caught me on camera from the studio. He didn't know I was going to be there, but after finding out went through the tape and discovered my finish....I do exist!

Decent finishers medal
and cool blue t-shirt
to boot.
So, I'm headed to Costa Rica for vacation in eleven days and it couldn't be approaching at a better time. My upstairs neighbor, St. Rick - The Klepto, was plunging his sink the other day and like clockwork I could hear my sink gurgling and expected him to come crashing through my ceiling. Nothing came up, but it made me nervous. Returning from work that afternoon and I find both kitchen sink basins overflowed with water (along with a wonderful stench) and a pool of the run-off is covering my floor. Our new, and certainly frustrated, landlords arrived quickly to examine the mess. This time, it wasn't Rick's fault.

My welcome home prize - it made its way across the counter,
into the drawers and the cupboards below. Everything
needed to be washed and cleaned.
The building is old and main drain for the eight apartments essentially exits one iron pipe. This past weekend a whole slew of folks were here to open it up....and they found it packed with a black sludge, 30 to 40 years of drain waste.

It was replaced quickly, though once the water in my sink went down, I had the tar-like sludge remnants in my sink and it stained everything black. It took the vast majority of a jug of bleach and other cleaners (and scrubbing like my hair was on fire) to return everything to its original condition.

It makes me afraid as to what may happen when I'm gone for a week. My friends Jen & James will be checking in on my cats (Whiskey & Jameson) in my absence, though with what has taken place in the last few months I can imagine returning home to find the cats replaced with a pair of fainting goats named Rocky and Bullwinkle and somehow only I would see a problem with it.

Oh, and something fun took place in June. Back in March I told you about the interesting street corners I run past and cool down on everyday. Each run, since starting again in August 2016, my cool down turn around has been at the corner of Pleasant and State not far from my apartment. Glancing up at these street signs had helped ease the goofy thoughts regarding the odd way a relationship ended abruptly just after the start of the year, as well as general daily frustrations. They remind me to find my "pleasant state" and move beyond things of which I can't control.

East Pleasant & South State,
just south of my Marion, Ohio
Even if I haven't had a bad day or something on my mind, I made sure to peak at the crisscrossing signs as a simple reminder...that is until Friday, June 23rd. On a six-plus mile run, working on pacing for the future half marathon, I finished feeling great. It was exciting to know I could run at a 6:40 pace and still have plenty left in the tank. As I go about my cool down walk, I start hypothesizing about how that would equate to a 13.1 mile adventure. Heading north back towards my apartment and bouncing half marathon ideas in my head, I stop suddenly: something is different.

Turning to look behind me, I noticed I have walked down the street and made the turn to head back and did so without looking at the companion Pleasant and State street signs. I'm past them to the point the only one sign I can see (and read) is Pleasant. I stood there for moment before a broad smile crawled across my face. For the first time since January, January 23rd to be exact, I didn't look up and I didn't need to - I had moved far enough down a different personal path that I could let go, but let go of what? I don't know...but I could feel it.

....did I just find my pleasant state?








Sunday, June 18, 2017

I'll Take the Three Leaflet Demon Clusters for $500, Alex

It's that time of year again - like the Country Time Lemonade commercials used to refer to: the hot, muggy, lazy, spread-eagle in the front of the box fan in your underwear to fall asleep at night and wake up in a pool of your own sweat-type weather.

The last week or so has been 85 to 90 and my apartment stays cool until late afternoon when the sun hits my windows just right. I'll put in the window air conditioner before too long, but I grew up in a house with no air and lived via the box fan (as I'm doing at the moment) so I can take it for a little while. Another one of those glimpses of summers' past which continues to rear it's ugly head - frickin' poison ivy. Since birth, coming within ten yards of it or someone just mentioning it and I'm covered from head to toe in the red bubble-like rash that makes you went to scratch away every layer of dermis until you find relief or you are bleeding profusely and it starts to hurt a little.

My building's new landlords do the yard work themselves, but have a few buildings they facilitate. Hence, they don't get to do the yard work as much as they would like. I have maintained a garden, have three year-old hops bines climbing upward and have mowed the grass for our building since I moved in four years ago with my own equipment. I offered to continue to the yard work in exchange for a small, monthly rent decrease and - BOOM - they accepted. So two Friday's ago I spent the afternoon mowing, weeding and trimming all around to go along with tending to my garden and struggling hops bines.

I imagine this is what I looked like as a kid after being
finger painted by mom with the watery, pink
Calamine lotion...

I was feeling satisfied with myself until two days later when that damn rash appeared. It had invaded every limb, area, nook, cranny and...ahem..."crevice" on my body. Even as an (almost) adult, I have no defense against it. Thus, my routine of washing EVERYTHING I have come in contact with in those few days, soaking in Epsom Salt, dousing myself with rubbing alcohol and popping doctor prescribed Prednisone began. I have, though, one saving grace. I am astounded, and thankful, for the invention of the CLEAR version of Caladryl  and/or Calamine lotion. It is so much more conducive to avoid explaining what is wrong with you without looking like the human version of the iced animal cookies from my childhood (On the other hand, it could be a rather unique Halloween costume in the coming months...hmmm).

Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades for 24/7 Action, by using my promo code: SIMPSON  

Over the years, I have been able to build a tolerance to the itchy sensation exuding from the rash and it can be overwhelming at times. In the last week or so, I have found that running and working out helps to keep the mind off of using yourself as a scratching post. And it dawned on me this week, if you can build a tolerance to refrain from wanting to scratch (one does trip over that wagon once in a while, bumping up against something....repeatedly...on accident....purposefully...OOOoooo feels soooo good), one can certainly build a tolerance for running through pain and your subconscious' attempts to get you to slow down, walk or stop.
....Similarities abound: Cookie or Person?
You decide.

With several days of avoiding ripping skin off ahead of me, I started looking for a race to get into to keep my mind occupied. Low & behold, I discovered one not too far from me and - as luck would have it - my new (refurbished) Garmin watch arrived in the mail (my at-no-cost replacement, from Garmin, for the MacGyvered version they seemed to have been impressed with). It was nice to be able to upload running stats again with Garmin Connect. For the last week or so, I have been just mapping out my routes on How Far Did I Run and posting screen shots of my distance and elevation. Not that anyone cares, but it helps to keep me motivated.

"THE" It's NOT the Hilliard Classic Half Marathon 10K & 5K was to take pace on Saturday at Alum Creek - which is not really all that near to Hilliard. This event had to be moved to Alum Creek State Park located in Lewis Center. Heavy road repair forced the event move for this year, but the move was to within 30 miles of me. And hard to complain with the location along the shores of Alum Creek, a place I frequent to get away from whatever the world throws at me. I decided on the 10K which shouldn't come a surprise, but I've been thinking hard about doing a half Marathon before the end of summer...and as soon as I  stop talking myself out of it (don't hold your breath).

Despite the informational email sent the day before stating "The forecast for race time is dry & overcast which should allow for a nice run before the heat returns mid-morning!" - which was a major lie - we knew better. Its been hot and muggy for last month. It was actually a near clear sky with the large melon ball of a sun baking everything. The heat began the moment the sun came up and with that comes Ohio's most notorious summer offering, extreme humidity.

The 5K race took off first, then they switched things up on us and sent the half marathoners second. There were a number of half marathon walkers and the next race couldn't take off until most of them reached a certain point, so we (the 10K group) had to wait a bit longer. This was frustrating in that we were antsy and ready to do, was humid as hell.
The old watch and the new watch -
sent in, replaced & returned within
seven days. THANKS GARMIN!

Glancing around at my fellow 10Kers, there didn't seem to be many who looked all that competitive to me. I could have been wrong, but that was the impression I was getting. When we were able to take off, I could feel I was going a little too fast. I think having to wait to so long had gotten the better of me and I had no one in my peripheral. The first mile circled the large parking area just off of Alum Creek Beach before heading out to the main road. At the mile marker, I was at 5:57 - damn, I was right. Too fast, but I can slow down now and make up for it later. Once I reach the main road and turn, I glance behind me and I see.....nothing, no one for probably 15 to 20 yards. I was right again, not the most competitive race. I turn and continue on tracking down half marathoners and enjoying the great day.

We take the main road for another mile, before turning onto the Alum Creek Flood Wall and following it all the way down to Africa Road, then back again. I didn't bother looking back again, I could tell I was well ahead. So I just followed the girl pedaling the 10K pace bike in front of me, worked my way through half marathoners and practiced some different pacing techniques.

That's one heck of an overcast sky at 7:30 AM.
Dousing myself with water at the various stations kept me relatively cool and the back end of the flood wall was down hill, which helped. At about this time, at the 5K mark, I was around 19:14 - near identical as the Columbus 10K 3.1 mile mark from two weeks before. But shortly thereafter at the turn around, again, I didn't see a single 10Ker among the half marathoners I had passed. As a result, I played with stride and form on the return trip. It was disappointing there wasn't a bit more competition at this point which would have assisted in faster back end splits, but I was working against the heat as well. I did cross paths, eventually, with the rest of my group but they were a few minutes behind. Focusing on a possible dip in the lake post race was something I kept as an incentive to keep pushing.

The course veered off the flood wall and onto a bike path with less than a mile to go.  We wind through the woods and into the open, then along the beach to finish.

Alum Creek Flood Wall, the beach at the top
in the distance.

I was winded, but could have definitely used a bit more push: My finishing time: 41:32. Not bad, but my finishing time two weeks before was 38:46 - near a three minute difference. And speaking of, the second place finisher on this day was nearly three minutes behind me. I recovered quickly after downing several bottles of water, then collected a number of other bottles and handed them to finishers as they reached the end of their journey.

Now the sun is on top of us and the air is thick, so I wander over to the lake and kick off my shoes and socks. The water was cool and felt great. I waded up to about thigh high and turned around to just simply watch the rest of the finishers from the middle of the lake. Others eventually joined me, some just walked right in and simply let loose without removing any of their running gear. For me, just standing there was enough and I stood there for a good 45 minutes.

My medal and the first steps
into the water.
Once it was all said and done, I did make my way to the beach and use my race shirt as my blanket to catch some rays, enjoy the cool breeze and take in the great warm day and summer scene. I needed to get some color beyond the farmer's tan I've been sporting for the last month or so.

Funny how sitting on the beach watching people and families makes you reminisce about those days when you just didn't care what was going on beyond that point in time. Being a kid, having fun and enjoying summer were all that mattered. It was a joy to watch the kids there doing that exactly. I'm hoping I can get into some of this when I head to Costa Rica with the family next month. I officially bought my return ticket this week so I guess there will be no permanent living aboard anytime soon.

I have packed a ton of things into this summer already and it cracks me up its only mid-June. This is what I think is making it interesting. Instead of doing the lazy summer thing and casually "doing", I'm seeking events and places out and putting them on the calendar. Other than the remnants of damned poison ivy, I haven't

Watching the half marathon finish from the middle
of the lake.
had anything to complain about. WHOA, wait, check upstairs neighbor, Rick - The Clepto, apparently left water running in his kitchen sink over night. I noticed some damp spots on my ceiling the night before and alerted my landlord. Then this morning, I had some pans and trash cans collecting the slow drips. Lucky for me, there is only some insignificant water damage and a small mess to clean up.  I'm told Rick essentially has destroyed the apartment above me and is being evicted. She, Alyssa the landlord, would only tell me she wouldn't let my cats live in that apartment - she wouldn't go into detail.

What makes this funny is this is the second time such things have happened in my time here. In 2014, in the same apartment, a girl ran a bath then fell asleep. It, too, over ran. That resulted in our then maintenance man having to replace my entire ceiling. If ever there were signs indicating I may need to move, I believe I've been pelted by all of them within the last few months. July fourth weekend would make it four years in this apartment and I have seen number of people come and go. Some of them you forget about over time, others you casually wonder how they are doing and/or secretly wish you could simply say hi or run into them again without any of the awkwardness that tends to come with such things. Time changes thoughts and feelings, though sometimes time just isn't enough.

The finishing arch, the beach and lake in the background.
The dark line of what looks like tree in the far distance is the
flood wall.
If moving or looking for another job is something which needs to be done, I'm sure it (or they) will come in due time. Right now I'm going to enjoy my Summer Runnin' and see what other backwards events, fun places and interesting people I can see, find and run into. I have a sort of schedule mocked up for the coming months and I'm keeping myself grounded as much as I can.

Do you think its time we start enjoying summer like we used to do? I'm going to attempt it....hoping not to fall flat on my face (its not like I haven't done that before).

Rules are made to be broken anyway, aren't they?

I've got low wishes
but I got high hopes

I've got no wishes
now that I am whole

cause I really don't know what to ask for

dying overwhelmed by the questions
I can't ignore

I've got low wishes
but I got high hopes

I've got no whispers
but I still got hope

and lonely sinking ships will
one day make some sense


lonely sinking ships will
one day make some sense

Runnin' Summer 2017 Tour:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Visit from St. Rick - The Klepto

When life gives you weird lemons, grab a beer and decompress because it isn't going to make sense no matter how you spin it.

Monday afternoon, when I had returned from work, I laid down for moment or two and nearly fell asleep. Not wanting to nod off for hours, I forced myself up and began tidying up a bit from a full weekend of activities. Among the whatnot that needed to be cleaned up were the exuberant amount of cat litter scattered around my hardwood floor. Apparently, Whiskey and Jameson enjoy grabbing 'paw'-fuls of kitty litter and launching the poop sand as far away from the cat box as they can. So I spend the next 15 to 20 minutes vacuuming up their mess.

When finished I notice the cats, who avoid the vacuum at all costs, were no longer hiding. Rather they were near my front door and attempting to investigate something. Putting away the vacuum, I thought I heard my doorknob move but continued with my business. Then, again, I hear what sounds like a key attempting to make its way into my lock. I stop for a moment to make sure I wasn't making things up. The cats, too, were creeping toward the door with what I assume is the same weird "what the hell is that" look.

It happens again, then I unlock the door and slowly open it. There I find my upstairs neighbor (the one directly above me), Rick, fumbling with his keys. He is an older gentlemen (late 50s, early 60s) who, if you look at him the right way, could be mistaken for your hard livin' department store Santa. He's short, long gray hair mixed with the black strands of what it looked like when he wore a younger man's clothes, as well as a full raggedy beard of the same make up.

Kind of wobbling in his wife beater shirt and baggy denim jeans, he looks up at me through his wire rimmed glasses while leaning to the left on the support of his cane, "Hey... Craig," in a surprised sounding tone, "you think I could borrow that vacuum?" Having asked me about it before, I didn't mind. "Sure, you can use it when ever you need It," as he then casually hobbles his way past me and into my apartment. Looking around with lazy, but curious eyes, "Niiiccee! Lookin' pretty good Craig." I'm then reminded of how his slow, deliberate delivery of speech tends to come off as creepy to me.

Get a discount on your next pair of @shadyrays, Next Generation Shades for 24/7 Action, by using my promo code: SIMPSON  We also secure 11 meals to fight hunger through Feeding America with every order placed.

"Um...thanks", as I then watch him crutch through my front room into my dining area and begin flipping though the pile of junk mail on my table. "What's your girlfriend's Name?", he questions.

Girlfriend? You mean the one who moved out suddenly five months ago and hasn't been seen or heard from since - is what I think to myself. Since he simply doesn't know any better and I just don't want to explain, I entertain his inquiry, "It's Elizabeth."

"How much do you want for that fishing pole?," he asks out of nowhere without looking up, as if my various credit card offers and Morehead State Alumni mailers have somehow sparked his memory of what I had in my failed attempt at a yard sale the week before. Completely weirded out by his boldness and lack of respect for anything, I search for some words to respond. "Well, I haven't used it in probably five years. How much do you have?", I say jokingly as I attempt to make myself feel less invaded.

"I have... about... $35."

"That's okay, I was just kidding. You can have it if you like?," as I turn towards my closet to retrieve it. While digging through boxes, I hear him move the stools next to my high top kitchen table across the floor. Peaking around the corner, I see him inspecting the seats. He then smirks and shakes his head in an approving manner.

Returning with the fishing pole, along with a small tackle box and trying to ignore what I just witnessed, "You can have this, too, if you like. There isn't much there, but I will probably never use it again either."

"Cool, thanks Craig," as he examines the pole and tackle box in a similar manner as my kitchen furniture. He follows that with, "Can I have your cell phone?", and sets the fishing pole and tackle box aside.

"... you mean ... my phone number...?"


"Sure, I can write it down for you." I grab the pen and notepad that was also in the pile of junk mail he rifled through, jot it down and hand it to him.

"Do you want mine?"

Wary and ready to defend myself in case even more weirdness evolves, I force a friendly voice, "Why not?" I'm standing ready with the pen in hand and hear him slur, "four...ten.."

To make sure I'm comprehending I repeat back to him, "four, one, zero..."


"One, zero six..."


"One, six, six, five."

Before I know it he wobbles over to a shelf of displayed items and starts playing around with them, "So... does your apartment look like mine?"

Funny, yes, but you don't know
how much this looks like Rick
Now in full "get the f*** out of my apartment mode", I'm totally confused by this question. I then notice the tattoo on his right shoulder. It's an image of a marijuana leaf. Thinking back to when I opened the door to start with, he had his keys in his hand, along with a half smoked modified "cigarette", and was trying to open my door....ooohhhh.... he is stoned off of his ass and still isn't sure if THIS is HIS apartment!

He had been browsing, moving things around and rifling through stuff because he couldn't figure out what they were or where they had come from. Unknowingly, he missed his actual apartment by one floor and a thousand brain cells. Who knew I could be the pied piper of pot heads with cat litter and a vacuum.

Thoroughly annoyed, I force a chuckle, "Well, this is... MY... apartment and yes, they are set up the same way."

"Ohhh yeah," as he laughs to himself.

I watch him grab an old broken pocket watch off of my shelf and study it, "Do you think she (our building manager) will be by to get the rent today?"

"That's what she indicated when she was here on Saturday fixing the washer downstairs," as I observe him walk into my kitchen and attach the watch to a belt loop and slide it into his pocket without the slightest attempt to hide it. He turns around, gawking at his new found piece of jewelry, and proudly walks past me and back into my front room. He starts flipping through some magazines and a notepad I have on an end table.

"Yeah, I had to go down to Rite Aid and get a money order for that this afternoon."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah....hey, do you have any wrenches?"

His randomness is killing me, "I have plenty of screwdrivers and such, but I'm not sure I have any wrenches." I head over to a bookshelf with a set of drawers and dig through what has become my junk stash. Moments later, pulling out a multi-tool which has a wrench attachment - and holding it up so he can see it - and closing the drawer, "I think this is about all I have."

"I might be able to use that," as he moves over to me and nonchalantly opens the drawer I had just closed and starts searching for what I assume to be buried treasure. I watch in complete disbelief and amazement. He pulls out several things and lays them on the shelf above, then spots a pair of sunglasses.

"Where did you get these?"

"I bought those a few years ago"

"How much?"

"...How much? I don't know $10, $15 dollars," as he puts his glasses in his pocket and puts on the sunglasses. Glancing around for a moment or two, he spots a pile of change. Like a kid in a candy store he sets aside all the pennies while slowly picking up the few silver coins, placing them in his pocket.

You have got to be kidding me.

He picks up my keys and focus' on the one to my car, which is the kind that flips out with the push of a button, like a switchblade and seems confused. "Huh, I'm not sure what I would do with this thing?," all the while pushing every button.

Staring in frustration, I try to help him out, "It starts my car, it's a car key." I reach and take the keys from him (having to shake them a bit to loosen his grip) to make sure they, too, aren't hijacked by Mr. Klepto and hoping he doesn't trigger the panic button. He slowly walks back over to my kitchen table, sits down and looks out the window like he's waiting for dinner.

"Do you fertilize?


"Your plants, do you fertilize?"

"Oh, every now and then. I typically just water them once or twice a week."

Diligently trying to get everything back into my junk drawer, he sees me and quips, "Hey, feel free to take anything you want there." WHAT?! Of course I will, it's mine you trippin' numbskull - I LIVE HERE! I'm not taking anything, I'm putting it back!

Reminding myself I have to see him everyday, I try not to be a complete ass. "Rick, buddy, I have some errands and stuff I have to get out of the way. So...."

"Well, you gotta do what you gotta do," and he stays put, continuing to gawk out my kitchen window. Hello, Rick? Are you still in there? YOU DON'T LIVE HERE! I walk over to him and move the fishing pole and tackle box to his side.

He doesn't move.

"Hey, do you got any chili?", while still staring blankly out the window with my sunglasses on.

Chili..? CHILI....?? WHAT?! Where the hell am I!?

"No, Rick, sorry. I'm not sure what I'll be having for dinner, I haven't decided. Speaking of, I have to get some things out of the way, including'm going to have to see you out brother." Again, he doesn't move, only shifts in his (MY) seat.

The catatonic state continues for a moment or two as he remains seated and I'm standing five feet away - wide-eyed and astonished - with only the sound of my ceiling fan clicking above. One last time, I grab the fishing pole and tackle box and push it toward him. I'm now physically poking him with the fishing pole like I'm testing to see if some fresh roadkill is actually dead.

Suddenly he turns his head toward me, holy crap - I must have hit the power button. I gather myself, "Rick, I have to see you out man. I have some things to do."

"Okayyy man," his body moves in slow motion up off of my kitchen stool, "I plan to go catfishin' a few times this week." He stands, grabs his cane, new fishing pole and tackle box - along with my sunglasses still on his head, my broken watch hanging off of his belt loop and my spare change in his pocket - and shuffles toward my door.

"See you around Craig, thanks for the fishin' pole." What?! No "Thank You" for everything else you've faith in humanity.

The Someplace Else Bar.
Looks better with the Hooters bus out front, doesn't it?
Instead of heading up the stairs to his real apartment once he made it into the hallway, he headed in the opposite direction and out the building's side door. Where he planned on going, I did not care. Though, once I closed my door, I bolted AND chained it. I then checked to see if I still had my wallet, my phone, my car keys, apartment keys, the extra set of keys that belonged to the former girlfriend and both of my cats. I still had them all, luckily.

Still reeling from the trip to bizzaro world, I find the piece of paper with his phone number on it as well as the one with my phone number. I threw both of them in the trash, and some relief comes over me. I then spot his half utilized "cigarette" next to my kitchen sink. That, too, found the trash - though I took some solace in the fact I did at least get something of his.

Attempting to replay all of it in my head, I found myself constantly checking to see if anything else was missing the rest of the night. Shortly thereafter, the bar across the block - the Someplace Else Bar - was in the midst of their regular karaoke fun and someone was horribly belting out the already horrible Total Eclipse of the Heart.

This, I imagine, would be how one would beckon St. Rick...similar to The Bat-Signal....

Twas the eve of summer and not a creature was stirring, except creepy, high as a kite St. Rick wandering Marion in his wife beater and sunglasses with his fishing pole, tackle box, pocket watch and loose change - on the never ending quest to satisfy his need for a tasty bowl of chili.