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).

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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
apartment.
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?



AT FIRST I WASN’T SURE IT WAS OVER 
BUT NOW I’M LEFT WITHOUT A DOUBT 

WE TRIED OUR BEST 
TO FINALLY SETTLE DOWN
AND WE ALWAYS THOUGHT SOMEDAY WE’D GET SOBER
THE LONG NIGHTS GOT THE BEST OF US 
NOW WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF LUCK 

WE KEEP ON BREAKING 
KEEP BREAKING APART 
WITH THESE CHANGES 
DEEP CHANGES OF HEART 

AND AS THE SEASONS CHANGE WE GET OLDER 
WE DRIFTED OFF INTO THE BLUE 
TRIED EVERYTHING TO LET GO OF YOU 
SOMETIMES I MISS YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER 
BUT I’M STILL HERE AND YOU’RE STILL GONE 
THE SHOW IS OVER, TIME TO MOVE ON 

WE KEEP ON BREAKING 
KEEP BREAKING APART 
WITH THESE CHANGES 
DEEP CHANGES OF HEART 

NOW WE’RE WAITING FOR THE SKY TO FALL 
THE FINAL CURTAIN CALL 
YOU WALK OUT THE DOOR 
NOW IT’S OVER 
STILL SECOND GUESSING FROM THE BEDROOM FLOOR 
IT DON’T RAIN IT POURS 
WE’LL NEVER KNOW FOR SURE 
BUT IT’S OVER 

WE KEEP ON BREAKING 
KEEP BREAKING APART 
WITH THESE CHANGES 

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