Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When Llamas Attack!

There are only two people who read this blog that are going to get this. However, I couldn't resist.

For more laughs, see this story.

This might be my favorite picture caption ever: "The llama that went berserk."

Let's all breathe a sigh of relief that we don't live in North Carolina. However, I KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES...look out, CJ!

In other news, the Engineer and I had the good fortune to spend last Saturday evening hanging with Spike and Redhead. Many laughs were had, and we discovered that we all are equally terrible at pool.

So much for last week's spring tease. Did I not predict the return of winter? The Engineer and I squeezed in two weekend runs before WHITE DEATH version 2 slammed us Sunday afternoon. If we had waited one more hour before starting our run, it would have been a disaster.

And thus it was that I spent yesterday morning doing this:

That's me. Shoveling snow. A lot of snow. A LOT of snow.
Can it be spring now? Please?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

You're Not Pinning This One On Me

I cleaned out my Running Command Center last week in preparation for a household renovation project. I drilled through layers of old training schedules, promotional race materials, Gu packets, race bibs, and random odds and ends which had accumulated for years on the surface you see in the picture. At the end, when everything else had been cleared away, this is what was left:

The detritus of a dozen races

Pins. Pins, a racing runner's best friend and bane of his or her existence. Pins on the floor of the car. Pins in pockets. Pins rattling around in the dryer. Pins between the couch cushions. Pins in extremely weird places (I'll leave that one to your imagination).

The small cat-themed container is also packed full of pins. That's my portable pin bin. I take it with me to all major races.

Pins. Gotta love 'em.

After last week's Arctic BlastTM, this week has seen a considerable improvement in the weather situation. Temperatures vaulted into the forties and fifties, most of the snow melted, and the sun made occasional appearances. However, I have lived in the Midwest for too long to be fooled by this flirtation with still-distant spring. I know that a few days hence there will be fresh snow on the ground and 50-plus degrees will be a fading memory. I took advantage of the favorable yet fleeting conditions by going for three afternoon runs, reveling in the lightness of limbs less encumbered by layers of fabric.

The weekend will bring a return to more typical weather for this time of year, including the dreaded "wintry mix" on Sunday. We're not out of the woods yet, fellow Michiganders. Hang in there.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


You know you are a runner who perhaps has a few too many running clothes when...

...you're moving your clothing stash from one place to another, which entails emptying out various drawers, thereby requiring refolding and rearranging of said clothing so it will all fit into its new home, and you find yourself saying one or more of the following:

"I wondered where that went."

"I totally forgot about this!"

"Ah, the first proper jacket I ever bought."

"Oh yeah...this one."

Additionally, you may revisit triumphs of deep discount sales (hello, Asics Storm Shelter jacket that I got for 50% off), milestone race shirts (Detroit Marathon '08), and questionable purchases (not every piece of gear is awesome).

I am happy to report that all of my stuff is neatly tucked into drawers, and I rotated some neglected items to the tops of piles so I will see them first and therefore be more likely to wear them. 

In other news:

I ran when I got home from work, because the morning temperatures of late have been alarmingly cold. Dangerously cold. Like, wind chills below zero. Having frozen my hands on a subzero run two years ago, I hesitate whenever the ambient temperature dips below ten degrees. Thus, I balked at going out this morning (9 degrees) and pushed my run back to the afternoon when it was a pleasant 25 degrees. I decided around mile 2 to go longer than planned in order to run through the cemetery and take a picture of the sunset, but no sooner had I made that choice than my guts sent out a warning signal of impending doom (seriously, it was like five seconds later) and I knew I would have to go home along my originally scheduled route. The cemetery and the setting sun will have to wait.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lost Weekend

Friday evening, I was supposed to attend a chamber music concert in Ann Arbor, one of the concerts in my University Musical Society subscription series. I left my house a few minutes after I ideally should have, which, combined with my decision to stop by my bank's ATM, triggered a butterfly effect of events which ended with me, 30 minutes later, back at home and sitting on my sofa.

What happened was this: I left the house, got some cash, then attempted to enter the highway at the nearby interchange. Too late, I saw that he ramps were blocked by a congregation of emergency and law enforcement vehicles. I saw a couple of cars that were badly damaged, one facing the wrong way on the on-ramp. Clearly something major had occurred, and not long before, since a police car pulled up to the accident scene as I drove by. My intended route was not an option, so I elected to travel south until I reached a certain east-west road, then travel it eastward until I found the northbound road which would take me to the next highway interchange.


I rarely get lost, because I rely on my sense of cardinal direction and the "map in my head"...but Friday evening I found myself driving around for fifteen minutes on pitch-black barely-plowed roads I had never heard of with only a vague knowledge of their layout, until I finally reached the one I had been looking for, the one that would take me north to the highway, and I saw the glimmer of lights through the trees, but as I closed in on my goal I looked at the clock and knew I was horribly behind schedule. I should have been off the highway in Ann Arbor and heading for the parking garage, and I was still bumbling around on country roads three miles from my house. Irritated, frustrated, and defeated, I yelled, "SCREW THIS!" When I finally reached the main road, I drove back to my house, put on my pajamas, made myself a drink and called the Engineer. Then I watched the DVD of the fourth season of "Oz" which had arrived that afternoon from Netflix.

Saturday morning, 6:30: I attempted to roll over in bed and instead of executing this motion smoothly and without incident as I had for the previous 1,000 times I rolled over in bed, I failed to move my head at the precise moment required and a horrible wet crunching ripping sound (I described it to the Engineer as "like crushing a wad of celery") reverberated through my neck and skull. A searing bolt of pain flashed through my neck and I screamed. I laid there, panting, and my first thought was, "Did I just break my neck? Is that even possible?" I wiggled my toes and fingers. OK, so, no damage to vertebrae, all extremities appeared to function normally. I tried to move.


That didn't work so well. I could feel heat spreading up my neck and over my shoulder and I knew I had to take some ibuprofen and get an ice bag on it ASAP. I held my head with one hand and gingerly rolled over, swinging my feet to the floor, stabbing pain accompanying me the whole way. I took the pills and got the ice bag and laid back down, groaning. I dozed for a while, woke up, briefly contemplated trying to do my run, shifted the wrong way, yelled in pain, ditched the running idea, dozed off again, and finally got up around 10:30 with no idea what I was going to do all day.

What I did Saturday was what I did all day Sunday: sat around in comfortable clothes with various combinations of cats on my lap or next to me, watching copious amounts of TV and aimlessly munching through all the snacks in my house. There was also beer, since my emergency WHITE DEATH! 2011 supply was not gone yet. Oh yes, and the constant, comforting presence of either the ice bag or my hot corn bag on my neck. I powered through the entire first and half of the second seasons of "Flight of the Conchords," watched three movies, read all my backlogged New Yorkers, and tried to move my head as little as possible. When the beer supply dwindled on Sunday to one bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout, I switched to hot Irish whiskies. A weekend trapped indoors is a little more bearable with a (hearty) shot of Jameson, hot water, a lemon slice, whole cloves, and sugar.  Especially when you have, like, five of them.

I was going to run the Super 5K in Novi Sunday morning, but after a restless and uncomfortable night spent shifting endlessly trying to find the elusive configuration of arm, shoulder, and neck that would allow me to fall asleep without too much pain, I decided it wasn't meant to be. I still had to support my head with a free hand if I wanted to get out of bed; how on earth was I going to drive 80 miles to and from the race, much less go running?


I'm feeling good enough that I will most likely go running tomorrow as planned (3 miles). Saturday and Sunday were the first runs I've missed on my current training schedule, and the inactivity is grating on me. That and the massive amounts of carbohydrates I consumed over the weekend have left me feeling sloppy and sluggish. Enough is enough.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attention Residents...

To those of you who have promptly and thoroughly cleared your sidewalks: You rock. I love you. On behalf of walkers and runners everywhere, I thank you.

To everyone else: Go to icy hell, and have your shoes be filled with five pounds of snow! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

White Death!

Not quite death...more like a really bad cold, perhaps?

The Blizzard of 2011 has come and gone, depositing significantly less than the much-hyped amount of "UP TO FIFTEEN INCHES AAAIIIEEEZOMG!!!11!!!" but enough to cause my workplace to shut down because of the weather for the first time since 1978 (and only the second time since I've worked there; the other time was the Mega Blackout of 2003). When I called the special hotline number for work this morning and heard the words "The Ann Arbor location is closed," I was thrilled. A snow day! For adults! I haven't had a snow day since I was in high school!

I lounged around in my pajamas, had oatmeal and coffee, watched a movie, shoveled snow, ate mac & cheese, drank some beer, moved more snow around with my neighbor's snow blower, took a shower, and relaxed. I was supposed to do a 30-minute tempo run today but I decided several hours of snow removal would serve as a substitute. Shoveling by hand certainly raised my heart rate, and pushing a 100-lb snow blower around wasn't easy either. I got my cardio and my weightlifting at the same time!

Alas, the rare treat of a grown-up snow day has come to an end and it's back to work as usual tomorrow. At least I know I'll be able to exit my driveway.

Tuesday afternoon in the cemetery. I decided to squeeze in a short run before all hell broke loose.

Everything one needs to ride out a storm.

Wednesday morning: It's SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011!

Boo and Darwin couldn't care less.

The driveway area pre-clearing. My little snowblower wasn't up to the task, so I borrowed a neighbor's ultra-burly machine. Even so, clearing it took almost 2 hours. Ugh.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Before the Storm

As I write this I am snuggled up in my down comforter in bed. An angry wind is whipping snow against my window and into great billows down the street. It's Snowpocalypse 2011!

It has been snowing for about five hours now, lightly at first, but with increasing vigor in the past 2 hours. My desultory clearing of my back porch has been obliterated. I'm letting my driveway and sidewalk go until tomorrow.

Before Snowmageddon descended, however, I went out for a quick post-work run. I knew tomorrow's conditions would most likely preclude venturing out in car or on foot. It was a pleasant 22 degrees with just a hint of wind when I departed around 4:45. I alternated between road and sidewalk depending on the degree of snow clearance. I paused in my favorite spot, the cemetery, to take a couple of pictures. On my way home I made a final stop at the market for hunker-down supplies: chips, salsa, hummus...and beer.

The outlook for being able to bust out of my driveway tomorrow is poor. I anticipate not going to work. If I'm feeling adventurous I might bundle up and go for a walk around town. It could be fun to be the only person out and about.

Stay warm, folks!

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