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).

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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, also...it 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 that...my 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
anymore

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

yeah

lonely sinking ships will
one day make some sense

Runnin' Summer 2017 Tour:



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