Sunday, May 15, 2011

sorry for the delay

On Thursday night, Blogger was down, meaning I couldn't publish one of my usual scintillating posts replete with close-ups of flowers and what not. Grrr! (I'll post it tomorrow.)

On Friday, I caught a flight to Pittsburgh for the half marathon I've been training for the past few months. On the shuttle bus from the parking lot, I ran into the friend of a friend who was the first person to turn me on to Born to Run.  I figured that was some good karma. She gave me some good tips on running in the rain. It involves anti-chafing strategies. I'll leave the details to your imagination. I let her know that it was a conversation with her that had inspired me to sign up for my first half marathon last year, cause I figure we all appreciate knowing that we had an impact on one another, don't you think? We exchanged hugs and went our separate ways.

On Saturday, I visited my high school buddy Craig and his beautiful family. They run Half Crown Hill Orchard and we wandered around the property for a while, enjoying the gorgeous weather.

The property has been in Craig's family for years. I remember ice skating on a pond there back in high school. For a while, Craig's life took him to other places, but at some point a few years ago, he and his wife Suzan settled on the old homestead and got busy planting an orchard. Then they got busy with other pursuits, and the result is a 16-month old girl who is due for her first tractor-driving lesson any day now. You think I'm kidding. I'm probably not.

I missed the apple trees' flower season, unfortunately, but that only means I get to show you what wee baby apples look like - when they're so tiny, you can still see flower bits on their bottom ends.

The property also features a huge stand of aspen...

...and an equally impressive grove of wild-sown dogwood and honeysuckle. I wish I could attach the smell to this post, so you could breathe in the springtime sweetness. And I promise an allergy-free experience.

 You're just dying to see a close-up of a dogwood flower, right?

Here you go.

Honeysuckle. There was more than one kind. 

Eventually, I made my way home, and got myself into bed bright and early so that I could be sure to get some sleep before my 4:30 am wake-up call. No sooner were the lights out than my cell rang - another high school friend, and my ride to the race the following morning, was calling to let me know he'd pulled his hamstring playing a soccer game and would most likely not be able to run the race. Uh oh. But he assured me that his running buddy would give me a ride. So far so good.

I didn't sleep after 12:30 am, because what if the alarm didn't wake me? Sigh.

And then I got up and got my ride into town and ran 13.1 miles in continuous light drizzle on a course that went over three bridges and two rivers and through countless neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive offerings: Polish pierogies, hand-made sausage, ZZ Top cover bands, gilded onion domes, bagpipers, high school cheerleaders waving pom-poms, 8th grader garage bands, and best of all, yet another high school friend, Kristen, squinting at the thousands of us streaming by, wondering if she'd be able to pick out the girl with a long brown ponytail, when about a third of a field of 18,000 runners had long brown ponytails.  YAYYYY!!!

By about mile eleven, I hurt more than I recall ever having hurt before at this point in a long run. But there's one thing I have built up over the course of training: grit. Not for a second did I consider quitting. One foot in front of the other, ho hum, that's my strategy. Ho de doh...hum dilly lah... wackadoo.... that's a song I invented. It doesn't have much of a tune, but it does help the time pass. (I'm hard core: I run alone, and I don't use an iPod.)

By the time I crossed the finish line, the race clock said something like 2 hours, 45 minutes. If you figure that I didn't actually cross the start line for at least ten or fifteen minutes, and if you additionally cheat (as I do) and don't count my one bathroom break, I finished in a little faster than 2:30. I can't rely on my magic Garmin to tell me my time, because I screwed up with it about six times in various ways.

How to screw up with your Garmin: A Brief List

1. Forget to start the actual workout routine, which is the whole point of using it: the workout routine will beep at me after eight minutes, wait a minute, and beep again. Lather rinse repeat as many times as it takes to cover the route. This ensures I take my walking breaks.

2. Because every other geek on the course is also using a Garmin, and they all make the same freaking beep, get confused, and start walking too soon because you overhear someone else's beeps.

3. Get distracted by the unbelievable VOLUME of some of the live music, and miss the "time to walk now" beep. Start walking when the "OK, start running again" beep sounds.

4. Get distracted by seeing your friend! Press the "stop" button so it won't count the time you spend giving her a hug. Realize, you were about to start a walking break anyway. Fail to re-start the clock, but walk with your friend anyway for about a minute. Sort of. Or something. Realize your intervals are now hopelessly confused. Keep running, effectively missing your subsequent walking break. Wonder why you're so friggin' tired.

5. Finally - and this might be my personal favorite - neglect to press the stop button when you cross the finish line.

I paid good money for that thing - it's a shame it's smarter than I am.

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