A Simple Running Log

October 31, 2017

Training for 10/31/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 5:19 pm

Happy Halloween!

I have to say, Halloween was way more fun when I was a kid. Instead of dressing up and going trick-or-treating, tonight I am attending a county government meeting to listen to people complain about a small income tax increase that will pay for two much-needed capital projects.

And this is after already sitting through the regularly-scheduled county meeting that lasted five hours this morning and into the afternoon; the county had to schedule a second evening meeting for all the conspiracy theorists commenting on Facebook about how they intentionally held the meeting during the day (plot twist — it was scheduled nearly a year ago) so people with day jobs couldn’t attend.

Anyway… I did get in a little training around all these meetings. I got up early enough this morning to do some strength training before the first meeting. I’d have gotten more done, but it was a little chilly in the attic and my workout buddy kept bugging me to drop what I was doing and snuggle with him instead. Should’ve put his dork jacket on him!

Then, this afternoon, after I got home from the first meeting, I felt bad about leaving him home alone to run on my own, especially since he’s going to be alone again tonight while I go to the second meeting, so I took him to the trail, and we did an easy 3-miler together instead.

It was a really pretty afternoon, so I took some pictures.

pepper on steps

pepper looking down hill

pepper running with stick

pepper with stick.JPG

Mine.

And with that, I finished off October, so it’s time to sum up my month.

Mileage:

  • Week 1 (Oct. 1-7): 43 miles
  • Week 2 (Oct. 8-14): 35.3
  • Week 3 (Oct. 15-21): 61.5
  • Week 4 (Oct. 22-28): 37.1
  • Week 5 (Oct. 29-31): 10.7

Total: 187.6 miles

I expected to be over 200 this month, but I slacked a bit, as usual. There was that 20-miler I just skipped entirely because it was so stupidly hot and humid the first week of the month. I still don’t feel bad about that.

It was a good mileage month anyway though. I got in several solid double-digit training runs, including a 26.2-miler at the Baltimore Marathon, that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped because of, again, the unseasonably warm weather. Annoying.

Other than the marathon, the only race I ran this month was the Seawitch 5K with Clark and Pepper, in costume, in the pouring rain, so that wasn’t really a race effort either.

And I finally rode my bike again — once — for my first century. Actually, it was 101.9 miles, but who’s counting?

Looking to November, the main focus is, of course, the Richmond Marathon, now only 11 days away! I’m pretty excited about that one.

I’m not registered for any other races at the moment, but I am 99 percent sure I’ll do the 5K in Rehoboth I run every year, two days after Thanksgiving.

And Shamrock Marathon training technically starts two days after Richmond, but I have a feeling I’ll be skipping at least the first week of the training plan.

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October 30, 2017

Seawitch Fall 5K Classic recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 8:03 am

Saturday morning, I slept in, and then ran an easy lap around the 4.5-mile loop. Later that morning, one of Clark’s coworkers picked us up, and we went up to the University of Maryland for the Maryland-Indiana football game.

When I was a student at Maryland, I never saw an entire football game. I was all about the tailgating.

Well, I may have graduated 11 years ago, but I sure haven’t matured much since then, because once again, I spent way more time downing beers in the parking lot than watching football. I think we saw about 15 minutes total of the game.

I won’t embarrass Clark too much here, but I’ll just say I wasn’t the reason we left early haha.

Anyway, it wasn’t too late when we got home, just after 8 p.m. That was fine with me, because we had to be up early Sunday morning for the Seawitch 5K in Rehoboth.

This race is part of the weekend-long Seawitch Festival held every year right before Halloween.

The weather for Saturday’s activities was perfect. Unfortunately, a big storm system rolled in overnight. It wasn’t raining when I got up Sunday morning, but it started about five minutes later, and it never let up.

Clark and Pepper were less than enthusiastic about getting out of bed to go run a 5K in the pouring rain. I didn’t care though. I’d already paid to register and bought the costumes. There was no way I was going to let a little drizzle get in my way.

Yes — the costumes. Halloween costumes are strongly encouraged for this race, so a few weeks ago, Clark and I settled on a theme for us and Pepper.

We got to Grove Park in Rehoboth about a half-hour ahead of the race start time. I got our bibs and event shirts, then ran back to the truck so we could all get dressed and bibbed up.

With everything in place, we made our way to the starting line. We started near the back, since Pepper can be a bit of a disaster.

We got the starting commands and took off. Clark, Pepper and I were among the last 5K runners to cross the line:

2017 seawitch 5k start

Pepper looks SO EMBARRASSED haha! Like he’s checking to make sure no one he knows is watching.

We started making our way through the pack. Pepper was being ridiculous. He would not run in a straight line; he kept circling around me to look at Clark.

A half-mile into the run, he stopped to take a dump in someone’s front yard. I’d remembered to a bring a bag this time at least, so I cleaned it up and threw it away in someone else’s trash can.

My stupid cap wouldn’t stay on my head either. I’d stapled some Under Armour headbands to them, to use as a chin strap. Clark’s seemed to work OK, but mine didn’t work at all. It kept sliding off the back of my head. That was annoying.

We made our way through the course. Pepper eventually settled down, but every now and then, he’d stop to pee on something, or circle around me to personally check in on Clark.

The wetter Pepper’s costume got, the harder it was to keep it on him too. It was slipping to one side or the other the whole way. We stopped once to try to readjust it, but that didn’t help much.

As we came to the last turn, I held my cap in place so I could at least look like a complete mustard bottle for the photographer at the finish line:

2017 seawitch 5k finish

2017 seawitch 5k finish group

I crossed the line in 29:41; Clark’s chip time was a few seconds faster.

We hung around a bit for the awards. I didn’t think either of us had placed in our age groups, but there were some awards for best costumes. Ketchup, mustard and a soggy hot dog were not among the winners haha. Oh well.

It’s too bad the weather didn’t cooperate, but I still really enjoyed being dorks and running in costume with Clark and Pepper!

We headed home, took some hot showers and spent the rest of the day being lazy, watching the NASCAR race and then Game 5 of the World Series.

That was the last race I’ll run before Richmond, now less than two weeks away! We got our bib numbers last week. I’m 911.

The mileage on my training plan takes a dive this week. The longest run I’ve got left is an 8-miler next weekend. No more double digits until race day.

Today is an easy 4-miler. The rain is gone, but it’s cold and windy out there.

October 27, 2017

Training for 10/27/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 2:54 pm

Yesterday, I just ran an easy lap around the 4.5-mile loop.

Today, I did something smart for a change and took care of this week’s long run. We have plans both tomorrow and Sunday that wouldn’t make getting a long run done impossible, for a more motivated person anyway. But it was safer for me to just do it today, when I had zero excuses.

Anyway, since we’re so close to Halloween and I was running past the ferry, I thought I’d take my phone so I could get some pictures and share the closest thing to a local ghost story I have. Some of this I’ve posted about before, but a couple things I just learned about myself in the past few months.

It’s pretty much all centered near the ferry. Right across from it is Cannon Hall, built in 1810 by Jacob Cannon, the son of the guy who’d first established the ferry in 1743.

Supposedly, Cannon Hall is haunted by the ghost of Luraney Boling, Jacob’s sister, and her daughter, Julia Ann. Seven years ago, the house burned (no one was hurt; the old lady who lived there at the time wasn’t home.) Two years later, in 2012, it still looked like this:

img_0438

Then a couple bought it and started the long, expensive process of restoring it. It was slow going for a while, but five years later, it looks pretty spiffy, on the outside at least. Here’s what it looks like today:

cannon hall

Nice work!

OK, that’s not spooky anymore. No idea if Luraney and Julia Ann came back after they restored the house.

So, right across the road is the ferry:

ferry

This silly thing — seriously, there’s a reason most of these things have been replaced by bridges — is the last cable-operated ferry in Delaware, and one of, if not the longest continually-operating ferries in the country, which I guess is why DelDOT keeps it going. Pepper’s vet has told me numerous times how much he enjoys coming over here just to ride across the river on it.

Two things I know about it:

  1. Jacob was shot and killed right here, on the wharf, in 1843, by someone he’d accused of stealing a log that contained a working beehive.
  2. In the ’50s, a car rolled off the back of the ferry (older ones didn’t have the safety barriers) and everyone inside was trapped and drowned.
woodland ferry 1930s

The ferry, sometime in the 1930s, seen from the opposite side of the river, with Cannon Hall in the background. Picture owned by DelDOT.

I also read a little snippet somewhere about a witch who supposedly haunts the ferry, but that doesn’t seem to be a commonly-held belief. I can’t find anything about that now.

Just down the road from Cannon Hall is the Methodist church, founded in 1843 by Luraney:

methodist church

Pretty much all of the Cannons are buried in the small cemetery right next to the church: Luraney, Jacob and their brother, Isaac; Jacob and Isaac’s wives, Elizabeth and Mary; and Luraney’s daughter, Julia Ann.

The Cannons were jerks. When Jacob got shot and killed, everyone knew who did it, but they just let him go. No one cared.

One of their relatives was one of the biggest jerks this area has ever seen — Patty Cannon. After Congress banned importing slaves but not slavery, she and her gang got into the lucrative “business” of kidnapping free black people and fugitive slaves, and shipping them down south for sale.

Patty’s house was a few miles from the ferry, near where Caroline and Dorchester counties in Maryland and Sussex County in Delaware all converge. The story was authorities could never get her because if someone from Maryland showed up, she’d slip across the line to Delaware, and vice versa.

The house itself is long gone, but there’s a historical marker in Reliance near where it stood.

Anyway, Patty and her gang shipped their victims by boat. The Nanticoke River, where the ferry crosses, connects to the Chesapeake Bay, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean.

She held her victims in the basement of her house, or, legend has it, on an island in the Nanticoke River until they got a chance to move them up the river toward the ocean.

Shackle Island (or Prickle Pear Island, as I’ve also heard it called) has never definitively been found. The theory is the shifting river waters over the last couple of centuries have erased it. People have often looked for something, like iron shackles, to prove where it was, but so far, there’s been no hard evidence. However, there are several stories about a spot near Phillips Landing, on the other side of the river, where people have seen strange lights, heard noises like moaning or metal clanking or felt things. I don’t know!

By the way, Patty Cannon was eventually indicted on four counts of murder in 1829, after a farmer found remains (though she confessed to dozens more.) She died in prison awaiting trial.

Finally, the last stop on my little ghost tour here is one I just heard about myself recently, Maggie’s Bridge.

maggies bridge

I’ve been running over this bridge for years. It’s about a half-mile past the ferry, through a swampy area.

The story claims Maggie Bloxom was either killed herself in a horse-and-buggy accident in the late 1800s, or her baby was, or they both were. Some stories say she was decapitated. Others say she lost her baby, not her head.

The sheer variation in stories leads me to believe this one’s a crock of shit, one of those urban legends made up by the same kind of bored teenagers who spray graffiti all over the road here (it was recently repaved) just for something to do. Supposedly, if you stop your car on the road and turn it off, step out and say “Maggie, I have your baby,” the ghost will appear and disable your car.

Well, I’ve never seen anything, and I’ve run through here on foot before sunrise a few times.

And that’s it for ghost stories! I finished the 12.3-mile loop.

Tomorrow, we’re going to the football game at the University of Maryland. It just so happens to be homecoming weekend. It’s not until the mid-afternoon though, so I would like to get in another run before we go.

And Sunday, well, I don’t want to say yet exactly what’s happening Sunday. I’m running a 5K with Clark and Pepper. But it’s more fun than that. It deserves pictures, so I’ll just post about it Monday.

October 25, 2017

Training for 10/25/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:29 am

Monday afternoon, I ran an easy lap around the 5.5-mile loop. I got to break in my new Zantes, which I like as much as the last two pairs. It was a nice run.

Yesterday, I wound up taking a rest day. It rained all morning, and while it cleared up in plenty of time for me to run in the afternoon, I just never felt like getting my butt out the door.

Today, I got out relatively early, which, for me, means before noon. I did a lap around the 10.1-mile loop. I didn’t feel so hot. I had to stop to use the bathroom twice — first around mile 4 in that port-o-potty in the park I can’t seem to pass anymore without having to go, and again less than three miles later, in the woods. And when I got home, I didn’t have to go again, but there was a big ol’ pile of dog poop in the utility room floor I had to tend to. So I guess the one word that could describe today’s run was “poopy,” haha.

Anyway… I was glad to see the Dodgers won Game 1 of the World Series last night. I’d have felt bad for Clark if he’d spent all that money to fly out there and buy a ticket and they lost. The pictures he sent from the ballpark were pretty cool. It sounded like he had a great time.

October 23, 2017

Baltimore Marathon recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 8:20 am

The Baltimore Marathon went pretty well, until it didn’t — I died a slow, painful death over the last eight miles thanks to, I think, a cold that was kicking my butt more than I thought, and weather that got hotter than I expected. But it’s another long training run in the books and another marathon finish under my belt before Richmond, now less than three weeks away.

Friday afternoon, I sat around waiting for the Fed Ex guy to drop off the new New Balance Zantes I ordered. Unfortunately, they did not make it to the house before Clark and I left for Baltimore. So I took my 1400s instead.

We got to the expo at the convention center, easily picked up our bibs and high-quality Under Armour event shirts (Clark did the marathon relay with his dad and two coworkers) and got our IDs checked and wristbands for our free post-race beers — this was the first year Dogfish Head was the beer provider, instead of Michelob Ultra, so I actually wanted my free beers this time. Clark also bought a very distinctive bright pink shirt from the Under Armour display to wear in the race.

We went to dinner at Alewife, where we found out Clark has the same taste in Baltimore restaurants as Guy Fieri haha:

guy fieri

I wasn’t very hungry and just had a roasted acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and feta cheese and a couple of beers from their huge selection.

We stayed at a hotel near the airport, just a few miles outside the city. We were checked in, had our race stuff laid out and were in bed by 10:30 p.m., with a 5:30 a.m. alarm set.

I slept OK, but when I woke up just before my alarm, I felt like I hadn’t slept at all. I also had a headache and I started blowing out the thick green snot that signals my cold is starting to break up. Great.

Nothing I could do about that now. We were out the door of the hotel by 6. It was kinda chilly out that early, but that wasn’t going to last.

Traffic had barely started to roll into the city that early, so we scored a spot in the stadium lot closest to the marathon start line. Most of the other people already there that early were running the 5K, which started first, at 7:30.

We sat in the car and I ate some Belvita breakfast biscuits, which have proven a safe pre-running choice for me, digestively speaking, and kept drinking water. On top of the head congestion, I felt dehydrated too.

The rest of Clark’s relay teammates got there with plenty of time. Clark passed out their bibs and went over how to hand off the velcro timing chip. Clark’s dad, who was running the second leg, left to catch his bus to the first exchange. The rest of us headed over to the marathon starting line in front of the baseball stadium.

The stadium had all of its bathrooms open to runners, which was nice — no standing in a miles-long port-o-potty line. I had to pee after drinking all that water, but I didn’t have to do anything else, never a good sign before a marathon. I was 100 percent sure I was going to have to make my typical mid-race bathroom stop at least once.

I put on an old long-sleeved cotton T-shirt, that I could throw away after I warmed up, and a pair of cheap gloves, and checked my bag. About 10 minutes before the start, I squeezed into the starting corral a little behind the 4 hour pacers. Waiting there, I briefly closed my eyes and felt like I could’ve fallen asleep standing there. But I had a marathon to run first.

At 8 a.m., we were off!

2017 baltimore marathon start

Marathoners after crossing under the balloon arch at the start.

The first three miles of the race are mostly uphill. It’s not steep, but it’s long. I kept the effort easy and ran those first three miles just over 9:00 each. About two miles in, I had warmed up enough to take off the gloves and shirt.

The temperature still felt nice and cool, but I felt like garbage. I had side stitches all over my upper body. Definitely dehydrated. So, from the first water stop at mile 2 forward, I walked through every single stop to get one or two cups of water down and, later, Gatorade.

Around mile 3, we turned into the zoo. This part is always fun — the handlers usually have some animals out to greet us. I didn’t see any penguins, but I saw Rise and Conquer, the Ravens’ two live raven mascots.

We also finally got some downhills and I started to feel better. I tried to keep the effort even, so it was all gravity that sped up my miles to the 8:15 to 8:30 range.

Around mile 4.5, I was hit by a strong odor that immediately smelled familiar. Two summers ago, while I was running a 25K at Rosaryville, I got stuck behind an extremely smelly guy — even by trail-race-in-July standards. I SWEAR it was the same guy! The guy at Rosaryville had been wearing sandals; this guy was barefoot. DUDE. Take a shower and put on some freaking deodorant! I got away from that guy as quickly as possible just so I could breathe again.

At mile 5.8, we passed the first relay exchange. One leg down, three to go! I took the only GU I’d brought with me at the next water stop.

The second leg is the best section of the course. It’s all downhill to the Inner Harbor. Every time I’ve run the whole marathon myself, the next few miles have always been my fastest, and this time was no exception — miles 7, 8 and 9 were 8:20, 8:25 and 8:06, my fastest of the race. I was feeling good.

By mile 9, we were running past the Inner Harbor, always the loudest, craziest part of the race. The half marathon is about to start, so all those runners are cheering us on before they get in their corrals. There’s also a ton of spectator support. It’s a lot of fun!

Just after that is an out-and-back, about two miles each way, through an industrial part of the city.

2017 baltimore marathon mile 10

I’m not sure where this is, but I think it’s somewhere around mile 10.

The turnaround is at the Under Armour headquarters. They always have a ton of GU for us to take, so I grabbed two — a salted caramel I ate there, at mile 11, and a vanilla bean I saved for mile 16.

2017 baltimore marathon mile 11 better

Just after leaving the Under Armour headquarters.

About a mile later, on my way back to the Inner Harbor, I heard someone running the other way yell my name. I looked over my shoulder and saw a runner looking right at me, but I couldn’t tell who he was, so I just said “Hey!” Three seconds later it dawned on me — it was Shaggy, a guy Clark and I had both lived with at different times in college! I know not everyone is as blind as I am without glasses, but it always amazes me when runners can pick out other people in the crowd while running like that.

I still felt pretty good — miles 10 through 12 were still in the 8:40 to 8:50 range — but I definitely needed a bathroom. Just past the second relay exchange was a small bank of port-o-potties with no line. I ran into an open one and took care of business.

I grabbed a handful of toilet paper on my way out so I could finally blow my nose for the first time the whole run as I rejoined the race. Most runners have mastered the art of the on-the-run snot rocket, but I am not one of them, so I had just been sniffing it back up.

I felt really good after the bathroom break and blowing my nose. The marathon course passed back through the Inner Harbor, right past the starting corrals for the half, which were still half-full when I went by.

Mile 13 had taken 10:49 with the bathroom break, and I ran over the halfway timing mat in 1:57. At that point, I honestly felt like I could run the second half in about the same time and finish around 3:54, like last year. Spoiler alert: NOPE.

I always like the next three miles of the course. The half and full are still separate, it quiets down a bit after the madhouse that is the Inner Harbor and the hills haven’t started yet. I ran miles 14, 15 and 16 between 8:30 and 8:50 each.

Just before the end of mile 16, we climbed a hill. At the top of it, you can look down the downhill that makes up the next stretch and see where the half is merging with the full. So many runners!

As I ran down the hill toward the merge, my stomach cramped up, and at the bottom, I had to walk off a severe side stitch. That was a new pattern that would repeat the rest of the race — something about the impact running downhill made my stomach cramp up every time. Never felt that one before. Fun!

The next couple of miles slowed a lot. There were just so many more runners on the road, and it was hilly, so that slowed everyone even more. I didn’t feel like weaving any more than I absolutely had to, so I slowed down too. Mile 17 was 9:14 and mile 18 was 9:52.

My side stitches were getting worse too. My whole upper body was cramping up. It hurt to breathe. I held out until mile 18, but then I started taking walk breaks, trying to get some relief. Eight more miles sounded impossible.

It was bad, and pretty soon, the impact of running at all — uphill, downhill or flat — just made it worse. I would run as long as I could until the cramping or the side stitches or whatever it was just got too bad, then try to walk it off.

I passed the final relay exchange and immediately spotted Clark in his bright pink shirt, waiting for his teammate. Sweet, I was still ahead of them.

Mile 19 was 10:13. I trudged on toward the loop around Lake Montebello. I ran mile 20 in 9:38 and got to the mile marker, about halfway around the lake, in an elapsed time of just over three hours. I had to stop again at a port-o-potty there though.

Again, I took some toilet paper on my way out so I could free up the port-o-potty for the next runner and blow my nose while I was walking along. I also ate another GU they were handing out there, and drank a couple cups of water and Gatorade

I threw away that whole handful of trash and started running again. A few minutes later, it hit me — my CHAPSTICK!!

My shorts didn’t have a pocket, so I’d stuck my ChapStick under my bra strap. But that had been bothering me, so I’d just carried it. It was in my hand when I threw away all that trash. And it was PUMPKIN PIE flavored. Not exactly the worst tragedy ever, but I was pretty upset when I realized it.

Ugh. Trudging on… just after the lake loop, we had to run a new out-and-back, added because the end of the course had been changed this year. I hate out-and-backs anyway, but this one sucked. There was another freaking uphill. I mean OK, that made it a downhill on the way back, but still. It sucked. Mile 21 was 11:57 after the second bathroom break.

We were somewhere between miles 21 and 22 when we finished the out-and-back. The course was now running through another residential neighborhood, packed with very enthusiastic spectators. They were cheering their heads off for us, running unofficial extra aid stations with beer and candy.

I just kept feeling worse and worse. It had passed warm and gotten hot. I was so thirsty. But then when I would get to drink something, it felt like it was just sitting in my stomach, sloshing around instead of absorbing. I didn’t take any of the spectators’ beer or candy. I even passed up the Dunkin’ Donuts table full of Munchkins at mile 23. I was pretty sure I’d regret it if I ate anything.

The final miles were more of the slow, painful run-CRAMP-walk-shuffle I’d been doing since mile 18. Not much to say about it. Miles 22 through 26 were 9:35, 11:00, 10:14, 10:13 and 10:24.

Past years, the course finished by running through Camden Yards and finishing between the football and baseball stadiums.

This year, they changed the course to end near the Inner Harbor, so the big post-race party could be set up there. We finally made the last turn, a left onto Pratt Street, and there was the finish line.

2017 baltimore marathon final stretch

In the final stretch.

I ran the last stretch down Pratt, upper body cramping and all, and crossed the line in 4:06:15.

2017 baltimore marathon checking watch

Stopping my watch after crossing the line.

I guess I didn’t look as bad as I felt, because the volunteers let me pass after finishing without carting me off to the medical tent.

I got my medal — just like last year’s, except the crab is silver this time and the inside features Fort McHenry.

2017 bmore medal closed

2017 bmore medal open

I took a bunch of food and a couple bottles of water, got my gear check bag and changed into dry clothes and flip flops. My feet were pretty tired of those 1400s. Definitely wearing the Zantes for Richmond.

I made my way to the beer line. I spotted a familiar bright pink shirt — of course that’s where I found Clark haha.

It took forever to get a beer, which wouldn’t have been as bad had it not involved standing in full sunlight when it was so HOT. What the hell? It’s the end of October! Why is it nearly 80 degrees? This is stupid.

Anyway, we finally got our beers — two each, choice of SeaQuench Ale, 60 Minute IPA and Flesh and Blood IPA — found some shade and sat down.

Oh, and it turned out I managed to keep Clark behind me the whole way to the finish — they finished in 4:11.

I’d been pretty disappointed in my run after I finished, but after a couple of beers, I didn’t feel so bad. In spite of not feeling great at the start, I’d run well for more than two-thirds of the race, and the warm conditions and my cold, which I’m hoping had something to do with the dehydration that caused all those terrible side stitches and cramps I was experiencing, had contributed a lot to those shitty final miles.

I decided I’d had a good 18-miler, immediately followed by a terrible 8-miler haha. And I got a nice Under Armour shirt, a cool medal and free Dogfish Head beer out of it, so I really couldn’t complain. If only I hadn’t thrown away my pumpkin pie ChapStick!

clarks and me after 2017 bmore marathon

My father-in-law, Clark and me at the Inner Harbor after the race.

I felt even better when I looked at the results. It seemed like everyone had a rough day because of the weather, so that wasn’t just me making excuses to make myself feel better. Even though I ran this race 12 minutes slower than last year, I was still 26th of 179 in the F 30-34 age group, 156th of 1,010 women and 543rd of 2,501 total finishers, pretty similar to last year.

I drove the three of us home. I prefer it that way — I really like driving, and I especially like driving Clark’s car — but I still thought it was funny the only one of us who’d run the whole marathon was driving, while the two who’d run one of four legs on a relay team were passed out asleep before we were hardly out of the city haha.

We dropped off Clark’s dad and picked up Pepper, who’d been hanging out with Clark’s mom. When we got home, my new Zantes were waiting for me.

Yesterday was a rest day. We spent the morning lounging around, then met Bart at Buffalo Wild Wings in the afternoon to watch football and NASCAR.

Clark just left this morning for California. He’s a Dodgers fan, and decided on a whim last night to go to L.A. with his dad to see Game 1 of the World Series tomorrow night. I’m not much of a baseball fan, so I had no interest in paying for a last-minute flight and a game ticket — I won’t say how much his ticket cost, but I’ll just say I could buy enough running shoes to last at least two years! Anyway, Pepper and I will watch for them on TV tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Richmond Marathon training continues. I’m tapering! I made it! Although this week still has some decent mileage. Today’s short easy run is still a 5-miler. I was a little sore yesterday, but I feel back to normal today.

October 20, 2017

Training for 10/20/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 8:20 am

The Baltimore Running Festival weekend is here! It’s quickly become one of my favorite race weekends of the year.

Unfortunately, I’m not feeling 100 percent right now. I have a cold working on me. It started with a scratchy throat Wednesday morning and now is just some general head congestion. Nothing that will keep me from running, but it’s putting a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm for running a marathon in the morning.

Oh well. It’s just a training run, after all, so who cares if it takes me a little longer to finish.

I ran a lap around the 8.4-mile loop yesterday. It was supposed to be a speed workout, but that wasn’t happening. I just put in the mileage. I’m going to do another short run this morning, the 5.5-mile loop. That’ll put me at 35 miles over the previous five days going into the last long training run tomorrow.

At least the weather looks nice. It should be in the 50s at the start, warming to the 70s in the afternoon. A little on the warm side, but not bad.

Speaking of weather, finally getting some fall-like weather around here this week inspired me to make the season’s first batch of pumpkin muffins last night.

muffins

I’m usually on my second or third batch this far into October, but it’s just been too hot. Better late than never!

Anyway, after I get this race done tomorrow, I will officially be in taper mode for Richmond. It’ll start Sunday with a rest day.

October 18, 2017

Training for 10/18/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:58 pm

I don’t have much excitement to report today. I just ran another easy lap around the 5.5-mile loop on another picture-perfect fall afternoon. I hope the weather stays like this for a long time. Until next summer would be nice.

They released bib numbers for Baltimore yesterday! I’m 1061.

And I ordered another pair of Zantes this morning that should be here Friday in time for Saturday’s race. “Nothing new on race day” is a pretty solid running rule, but I don’t think I can handle a marathon in my current Zantes — the insoles were slipping around again during my 10-miler yesterday — and I’d rather stick to shorter races in my 1400s. And anyway, it’ll be my third pair, so it’s not like I’ll be running in completely different shoes I picked up on a whim at the expo or something.

October 17, 2017

Training for 10/17/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 4:11 pm

Yesterday evening, I went out and ran a lap around the 5.5-mile loop. It was a little clunky the first couple of miles, but things loosened up and the last few were fine. I did some ab exercises when I got home. That was enough strength training for me.

Today, I had a 10-miler on the schedule, this week’s middle distance run. For a while there, I didn’t know if I was going to get a chance to get it done. Pepper was acting really antsy all morning. Then he went out and started dry heaving. Great.

He finally settled down and made it a couple hours without an incident, so I put him in the utility room, crossed my fingers and went out for a lap around the 10.1-mile loop.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a run. Sunny, just warm enough for short sleeves and shorts and hardly any wind or humidity. It really doesn’t get much better than that. But I couldn’t help but worry about Pepper the whole way.

When I got home, much to my relief, he hadn’t had any problems while I was gone, and he seems to be feeling better. Maybe he ate something funky in the yard. I don’t know. I just hope it’s really out of his system.

Also, earlier they posted the professional pictures from Sea Gull this past weekend. I thought they were free, but I had it mixed up with Baltimore this coming weekend. Anyway, here are a few of mine:

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 2.02.36 PM

Mile 7ish. Still had on the arm warmers.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 2.03.07 PM

Mile 87.5. I remember checking the mileage when I spotted the photographers.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 2.03.32 PM

After crossing through the pedestrian tunnel on our way back to campus.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 2.03.57 PM

Just before the finish.

October 16, 2017

Sea Gull Century recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 9:59 am

SeaGullCenturyLogo_2017

Friday afternoon, Clark and I went to Salisbury University to pick up our event shirts for the Sea Gull Century. They’re nice cotton long-sleeved shirts that feature the above race logo.

That took two seconds, and then we stopped by the pre-ride lawn party, where they had some free sandwiches, chips, hummus and veggies, and Evo Brewing beers for sale. Bart met us there too, along with his daughter. She’s a freshman at Salisbury, living on campus, so he stayed in her dorm room the night before the ride. I never lived in a dorm myself, but I had several friends who did, and I don’t think any of them would’ve been happy about their dad spending a (Friday) night there haha.

Anyway, we got some dinner at Texas Roadhouse with Bart and his daughter, had one more beer at Hopper’s and then headed home to hit the hay.

The alarm went off at 5 a.m. Saturday. As I was packing up all my stuff, I could hear water streaming through the gutters just outside the room where we keep our bikes. Great, still kinda raining. Oh well.

We got back to campus just before the beginning of the show-and-go start at 7 a.m. We all had until 9 a.m. to get rolling, but Clark and Bart had agreed to get started as early as possible.

Clark and I changed into our bike clothes. Though it was still misting, it wasn’t too chilly, so I was fine with my bike shorts, thankfully, as I don’t have any longer pants that have the padding in the butt — and I was going to need that padding! I could also wear my only cycling jersey, a short-sleeved one, which was good because it has all the pockets on the back for GUs, my cell phone, the ride cue sheet, etc. I did need some arm warmers for the first 44 miles of the race though.

So we got all our stuff together and made our way over to the start banner on Bateman Street, where Bart was waiting for us. We got our GPS watches and bike computers running, and we were off!

century start

Cyclists rolling toward the start line. Picture by Kathy Pusey/Salisbury University.

It was 23.5 miles to the first rest stop in Snow Hill. We rode out of Salisbury and onto some back roads.

It was so crowded! The ride is capped at 7,500 cyclists. I read about 5,300 registered this year. It felt like all 5,300 started at the exact same time we did.

I quickly got separated from Bart and Clark. Oh well. I figured I’d see them at the rest stop.

At mile 7, the metric century course (65 miles) split from the century course, but it seemed like the century was definitely the more popular distance.

I got to mile 10 — one 10th of the distance — and I realized it was like getting to mile 2.6 of a marathon. Boy did I still have a long way to go!

A couple miles later, I caught up with Clark. Bart had ridden ahead. Clark said he wasn’t really enjoying himself. Too many bikes. It really was a LOT of people out there. Most were riding in small groups, but every now and then, we’d get passed by a pace line of a couple dozen or more bikes, just flying.

We caught back up with Bart before Snow Hill, and we all got to the first rest stop in Byrd Park together. The place was a mad house. Again, it seemed like everyone got there at the same time. But they had plenty of real food, which was all I wanted. I scarfed down some Fig Newtons, a slice of banana bread and a banana. Then we got back on the road.

The next aid station with food wasn’t until mile 62.5, but there was a water-only stop at mile 44.3. Just 21 miles away.

Again, Clark and Bart got away from me as we wound through more scenic back roads (the whole course was really pretty, I have to say.) Just about the entire course was on secondary roads, but we did have to cross over major roads a few times. They had police out controlling traffic for that.

I think it was somewhere in this stretch, just after I got passed by a large group of cyclists, someone in the middle of that group went down HARD, so hard her shoes unclipped and her bike went flying through the air. It was scary to see! She was sitting up almost immediately though, and she had a ton of people already stopped to help her up, so I rolled on.

I’ve read there are two kinds of cyclists: Those that have had an accident, and those that will. So far I’m still in the second group.

Just before we got to the water stop in a park in Newark, volunteers were telling us to get off our bikes and walk them across a railroad crossing, which crossed the road at an angle. Just walking my bike over it, one of the wheels kinda slipped and got stuck in part of the track, which probably wouldn’t have ended well had I been trying to ride it. Clark later said a woman told him last year, she tried to ride over that track, fell off her bike and broke her arm.

I got to the water stop at mile 44.3 and found Clark and Bart. Since there was no food, I ate a GU there. I also topped off my water bottles, and then we were on our way again.

It was another 18-mile stretch to the next stop on Assateague Island at mile 62.5. Bart went ahead, but Clark and I rode most of that stretch together. I got away from Clark as we were riding around Berlin, but he caught back up with me just before we crossed the Verrazano Bridge to the island. That bridge, by the way, looked way steeper as we were coming up to it than it felt riding over it.

As soon as we were on the other side of the bridge, we saw a herd of the wild ponies that live on the island grazing just off the road. Then we were at the rest stop in the state park parking lot.

2017 sea gull century assateague island rest stop wide shot

I will never not find it funny that we pay so much for these fancy bikes and then lay them on the ground because a kickstand would just be silly!

I just wanted more FOOD. I grabbed one of just about everything there — cookies, granola bars, grapes, cranberry-lemon bread. I also had a pickle and a shot of pickle juice, which both tasted absolutely amazing at the moment.

Pickle juice has become something of a thing among endurance athletes; I guess the sodium and potassium content is supposed to stave off muscle cramps. I’d never tried it myself before.

2017 sea gull century assateagueislandrest stop

We don’t lay our bikes on the ground. We walk farther than we have to so we can lean them against something.

We saw Bart there, but he was getting ready to leave just after we’d raided the food table.

Clark and I eventually got back on our bikes and started on the next stretch. We had 22 miles until the next (and final) rest stop at a VFW in Powellville.

Maybe there is something to that pickle juice, because I felt like a million bucks the whole way to Powellville. I mean, I hadn’t felt terrible before Assateague, but I was waning. Of course, part of the perk-up might have been because I was well into the second half of the ride and I knew I was going to finish soon.

The only thing that wasn’t feeling great was my butt. Having spent zero time in the saddle since riding 24 miles at the end of August, everything on me that was in contact with that damn thing was screaming in pain. The crowd had thinned out enough at this point that I could get down on my aero bars sometimes, which changed my sitting position enough to give me a little relief, but soon enough, that position started to hurt just as bad.

At mile 84.8, I got to the last rest stop. Bart had been there for a while and was about to leave. I thought Clark was right behind me, so Bart waited with me for a bit for Clark to get there. But then it was taking so long, Bart just went ahead to finish.

I stood by the road for a little longer to wait for Clark, but I was hungry again, so I decided it’d be better to wait for him by the food table. I clomped over there (I hate walking in bike shoes — they’re like ice skates without the blades) and got another pickle, a bag of chips and more banana bread.

Seriously, the best part about endurance events like long bike rides and trail ultras is the food!

Clark came around the corner as I was stuffing my face. He hadn’t felt so hot that last stretch. He got some food and used the bathroom, and then we left to polish off the final stretch, though neither of us were excited to sit on those bikes again.

I thought we’d ride the last stretch together, but Clark took off! He later said the bathroom break was the key haha.

I had my Garmin set to beep every five miles. I hit 90, then 95. Numbers I never thought I’d see on a freaking Garmin in one day!

I thought about all the runners I know who’ve run that distance. I thought about Ironman competitors who’d still have another 12 miles to bike when I was done, and then a marathon to run immediately following. I thought about this woman, who biked 86,500 miles in a year — averaging 235 a day for 365 days straight!! — to set a new world record.

I think about things like this because it makes me feel better. Other people go farther all the time, so I can finish 100 “measly” miles on a bike!

The Garmin was getting close to 100, and I knew I was nowhere near the campus yet. Ugh! I hate that.

I got to another major road crossing just as police were letting the cyclists cross. I saw Clark near the front of the group; I guess he’d had to wait there a little to cross, which let me nearly catch back up to him.

He got away from me again. But when we were almost to campus, I realized I was right behind him. Turned out the battery for his gear shifter had died when he was in a sorta low gear, so he’d slowed down.

The finish line was on the campus. We rode through a pedestrian tunnel that crosses under the highway just off campus. Everyone hollered as they passed through it to hear the echo. On the other side of the tunnel, we rode past the post-ride party and arrived at Red Square. And that was it — we were DONE.

I hit stop on my Garmin.

2017 sea gull century final stats

101.9 miles! No wonder my butt hurt so bad! And 3,640 calories burned — no wonder I was so ravenously hungry every time I stopped haha.

2017 sea gull century clark and me at finish

Guess which one of us wanted to take this picture haha.

We walked the bikes back to the truck and changed into dry clothes, then went to the post-ride party. We had to pay for everything there (there was free pie and ice cream at the finish line, but I didn’t feel like walking back there!), so we just got a couple of beers, then went to Specific Gravity to inhale a pizza — and more pickles. The deep-fried kind this time.

Two days later, I still haven’t decided exactly how I feel about riding a century. If I do one again, I definitely need to spend more time on the bike. Thanks to all the running I’ve been doing for marathon training, my cardio was fine, and I never felt like my muscles wanted to give up. But HOLY SHIT was I in pain thanks to that damn seat! Body Glide saved me from chafing, but I have actual bruises in some very sensitive areas. And I don’t bruise easy. So I need to just spend more time sitting on that seat to be ready to spend six hours on it.

Also, if I do another, I’d rather do a smaller ride. There’s a century course at the Six Pillars ride we did in Cambridge earlier this year. I remember talking to a guy after that ride who specifically said he liked Six Pillars because Sea Gull was just too big.

It was fun hitting triple digits though, I have to say.

After the ride, I overheard a woman on her phone, telling someone she’d just finished. She said, “I’m tired, but it’s not tired like after you finish a half marathon.”

I think part of that is because a century is not a race. At least, not the way most of us were riding it. You also don’t spend 15 or 20 minutes at a time at aid stations along the way during a typical road race, casually scarfing down real food.

Anyway, we left Salisbury and went to my sister’s house for my youngest nephew’s birthday party. When that broke up, my brother wanted a burger somewhere, so we went with him to the Washington Street Pub. It was just after midnight when we got home.

I went straight to bed. When I woke up Sunday morning, I felt OK, other than the aforementioned bruised places, but I didn’t feel like running. I’ve got a very ambitious week coming up — the last big mileage week before Richmond, capped off by the Baltimore Marathon this coming Saturday — so I decided a rest day was a good idea. We spent the whole day watching football and NASCAR on the couch with Pepper.

Today, after I get my usual last-minute Monday crap done for work, I’ve got an easy 5-miler and strength training on the schedule.

October 13, 2017

Training for 10/13/17

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 12:57 pm

Happy Friday the 13th!  Very appropriate that one fell in October. Halloween is just a couple weeks away and it’s time to GET SPOOKY!

I love a good ghost story. I don’t have any of my own, but that doesn’t mean I can’t believe it’s never happened to anyone else. A few years ago, I stumbled across what turned out to be an annual feature on Jezebel, where they invite people to submit their real life scary stories. This year’s edition just went up yesterday.

A couple of them over the years have really creeped me out. Here’s one of my favorites, from 2014, submitted by a commenter called Gnomi Malone:

Never seen one myself but I have a story from someone I trust. A few years ago, I asked my SO if he had ever seen a ghost. He got really uncomfortable and squirrelly, lots of hemming and hawing. Annoyed, I said “Just say yes or no! I won’t judge if you think you have seen a ghost.” (I’m a skeptic and figured he didn’t want to sound like a rube or something). Turns out he was hesitant because he believes he saw one but it was while he was deployed on a mission in the Middle East, and he was trying to think of how he could describe it without giving up any classified info. The story is this:

He was in the spooky, vague “Middle East” when there was a commotion from the soldiers watching the perimeter. Apparently, they could see a man about 100 yards away from the camp. He had appeared out of nowhere, no one saw him walking up. The man was just standing there, not doing anything threatening. But since it was a strange man in a war zone, they broke out all the high tech gear to see what was going on. They could see his face, his clothes, his height, but he looked bizarrely distorted and was not giving off a heat signature (they have infrared jimjams and whatnot, it’s the freaking military not a piddling ghosthunting troupe here). He was not the temperature of a human being, he was the temperature of the air around him. They had no idea what was going on and people were freaking out.

At this point I said some obvious stuff- “Maybe it was a scarecrow or dummy. Or a shadow. Or the soldiers were really tired and delirious and their eyes were playing tricks on them. Or it was a hologram weapon shaped like a human”.

His response: They called different people up to come look at the man, it wasn’t just a few soldiers who saw this- dozens of people came to look and everyone confirmed that it was definitely a person. Eventually they decided to send out a team to check this guy out. When they got about 50 yards away, the man started walking- only it didn’t look like he was walking toward or away from them, only walking in place. They froze, expecting an attack. But the man never got any closer.

Me- “So he was, uh, moonwalking? OooooOOoohh a terrorist with dance moves, scary!”

His shaky response: It looked like it was trying to walk but instead of moving like a regular person, its bones were breaking and splintering backwards and forwards at the joints. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Its head was jerking around like a puppet. When the convoy got a few yards closer, it disappeared entirely. The team hauled ass back to camp and as soon as they returned, the man-thing reappeared in its spot. Everyone took turns watching it for an hour or so until it disappeared for good. Didn’t walk away, didn’t fly or melt or explode, just stood there for a looooong time then vanished.

The description of the bones breaking and bending the wrong way gets me every time. My SO still doesn’t like talking about it and he is not one to make up stories or lie, he doesn’t care about ghosts or proving their existence. But him and dozens of other soldiers were scared out of their minds by an inexplicable man-thing in the desert that night.

Something about the image conjured by “its bones were breaking and splintering backwards and forwards at the joints” just skeeves me right out.

This one’s also from 2014, from a commenter called theatreguy:

This happened in my junior year of high school.

One evening, my mother and stepfather had gone out to some event, maybe it was an extended dinner or a concert, it’s hard to remember. I had stayed at home to work on a paper that was due the next day (I was one of those kids who procrastinated until the last minute) and spent the whole night working at the desk in my room. To give you a picture of the room, my desk faces a wall and sits next to a small window that’s on the same wall, and from where I sit, my back faces my doorway. While I was working, I was wearing these great headphones that I had gotten for my birthday — the kind that are noise canceling.

My parents left the house around 6:00 PM, and the whole time they were gone, I sat at my desk, blasting music through my headphones and writing my essay. Occasionally, I would take breaks and watch the rain and lightning outside my window (we lived in Houston at the time and there was a big storm that night). I never left my desk.

My parents returned around 11:00 PM. At some point late late in the evening, I had removed my headphones, so when my parents came home (coincidentally just a few minutes after I had taken off my headphones), I clearly heard the garage door open and my parents open the door to the house. Seconds after I hear them enter, I hear my mother shout my name. “Adrian!” she screams, “what on earth happened in here!?” Confused, I get out of my chair and start walking through the house to them. There’s only a small hallway that separates my room from the living room. Due to my rush to figure out why my mother was yelling, I paid little attention to the hall and the house. After a few moments, I get to my parents. My mom looks livid. She’s pointing at the carpet floor yelling, “Was this you!? Did you have friends over!?” I look down. The carpet is ruined. It’s covered in muddy footprints.

I frantically explain to her that I have no idea how those got there, that I spent the whole night at my desk working on my paper. I watch as her face goes from anger, to confusion, to fear. We realize that someone else must have entered the house. Quickly we scan the footprints, trying to make sense of the situation. It only takes us a few moments to figure out where they start: our back door, which we usually left unlocked. Then we noticed something else. The footprints started at the backdoor, but there were no footprints exiting the back door.

We hear something pounding through our house. We hear the front door get torn open, then slammed shut with a sharp WHAM!

We all run into the garage and lock the door. My mom starts shouting at the police through the phone, “Please come quickly! Someone’s broken into our house!”After what seems like hours, the police arrive. An officer stays with us in the garage as his partner goes through the house room by room. His partner tells us that it’s safe to go back in, that there’s no one in the house. Then she asks us a question. She asks us whose room is down the hall to the left. My parents look at me and I tell the officer that it’s mine. She asks us to follow her down the hall.

As we go, it’s easy to see that the footprints weave through my house from the back door. They go through the living room, through the small hallway, into my parents room (which is down the hall to the right) and then turn around towards my room. They stop in my doorway.

Then the officer points at my door, which I had left open the whole night. On it, in black sharpie, was written the following:

My Log

8:47: I see you

8:53: You forgot to lock the back door

8:59: You seem focused

9:24: Turn around

9:47: Look at me

10:15: Look at me

10:37: Look at me

10:49: Look at me

For nearly two hours, someone stood in my doorway watching me. To this day, I shutter to think about what would have happened if I had ever turned around and looked at them.

AHHHHH!! This one’s scary because it could happen to anyone. LOCK YOUR DOORS!

And finally, my all time favorite, from way back in 2011, submitted by Sorcia MacNasty. I hadn’t found this feature until a few years later, but someone mentioned it in the comments. Even now, six years later, it’s still brought up regularly because it’s so terrifying:

We have never figured this out. And now, the three living witnesses have to be good and fucking druuuunk to discuss the whole thing.

I was 7, my brother 10, my mom in her early 40s, my grandmother (her mom) in her 60’s. So we were all cogent. No one was too young or too senile to not recall this nonsense. Yet, still no bloody answer.

Grandma lived on an isolated country road in NC that was named after her family since they were the only crazy fuckers who lived on the land for about 1000 acres. And I *do* mean crazy. We have stories about relatives that start with, “You remember that time Uncle Bob was in the ditch with a shotgun?” “WHICH TIME?!”

Her house had been empty for several weeks while she’d been visiting us in Florida, but we were all back, spending the weekend with her before trekking back to the Sunshine state. The house is in the foreal country, literally over train-tracks, past a salvage yard and her nearest neighbor (a cousin — everyone is related to everyone who owns a house on the road) ain’t within screamin’ distance. Yes, that seems to be a real system of measurement — “screaming distance.”

It’s early in the AM, like just before daybreak. We’re awake because these are farm freaks who wake at the crack of dawn from sheer ingrained habit. We’re eating cereal when we hear someone pull up outside. Curious, we all run to the big picture window that looks onto the front yard. There is a strange truck there. No one seems to be behind the wheel, though the engine is idling. The truck is… well, old, for one thing. It’s old-timey like from maybe the 1930’s? You could picture the Joad Family heading to California in this thing. It’s rusted but it was probably once painted blue.

We stare at the thing, bewildered. Mom asks grandma if she knows who that is. Nope, not a clue, says grandma. She runs to get the phone to call her cousin and ask him to come up — she thinks maybe it’s a hired hand and he’s just at the wrong farm. Just as she asks him to come on down, the phone goes dead. Well, that’s unsettling.

All at once, there is a loud, insistent banging on the front door. We all scream. My grandma, who is terrifyingly resourceful, huddles us all into the living room, away from a window where anyone can see us. Then, while mom, me and my brother tremble there on the couch, she grabs a serrated bread knife from the kitchen and cautiously approaches the front door. She peeks out a side window, very stealthily. She turns back to us and looks confused. She shakes her head, like, “No one is there.” We all kind of breathe easier.

Then EVERY goddamn door in the house is banging — relentlessly. I can still hear it. Rhythmic and terrifying, like all the doors are about to splinter and crack. There were two doors in the basement beneath us, so the sound is also a reverberation at our feet. The three ground-floor doors are shaking — we can see them trembling and jerking on their hinges from our vantage point on the couch. Finally, mom runs to the window — either from a psychotic break with reality or terror, I have no clue. She cries, “Oh thank Christ — Cousin is here!” We run to her and peek out the picture window — there is no one that we can see in the yard, but we can’t see all the doors from our viewpoint.

Cousin walks by truck with a shotgun in his hand. Cousin, it should be noted, has pretty much every gun ever made. He looks puzzled, looking at the rear of the truck, then he glances in the cab window and he stops. He goes pale, runs a hand down his face. Then he RUNS towards to house, towards us.

My grandmother flings open the kitchen door as she sees him coming. He shouts, “Everyone get behind the couch! Get DOWN!” He runs past us as we bolt for the couch. The banging starts AGAIN, all the doors and now we can hear the windows rattle. It’s like a tornado or the end of the world. We are too scared to even scream. Cousin flings open the front door and fires the huge shotgun, once, BANG, deafening. As he does, the truck roars into life and it sounds like a train. We scramble up; the banging stops, mercifully. Cousin is advancing onto the lawn, gun leveled at the truck. We run behind him, wanting to be out of that shaking, quivering house and near the dude with the gun. The truck peals out, backwards, cutting across the yard and racing into a breakneck speed. Tires sqeal, rubber is burned. Cousin fires again and we all cower behind him. He blows out the back window with the sound of a thousand plates smashing into linoleum but the truck never even hiccups, just roars down the road. No tags, not even a vanity plate on the back.

There was NO ONE behind the wheel of that thing.

We all had a clear view. Everyone agreed. Not a driver in the cab.

Well.

Not anything we could SEE, anyhow.

The police were called. The phone line had been cut. There was not a single boot print in the entire yard except Cousin’s, from where he’d run into and out of the house. Cousin reported that there had been no plate but when he looked into the cab, it looked like “something from a horror movie.” He said there were all kinds of weird restraints — handcuffs, c-clamps, nylon straps — and he said the floorboards looked covered in what “smelled like” blood to him (Cousin was famous for his keen sense of smell and the window was down, so it’s possible).

Cousin said he thought he saw a blur of something out the picture window and ran to fire the first shot, but “missed” because, once he stood there, nothing or no one was on the lawn or in the truck. Then it shot backwards out of the yard and out of our lives, leaving no answers, just a deep sense of unease every time we’d visit.

Grandma and Cousin have passed. Deeply religious people, they stuck by their unchanging versions of the story until they died. My brother, mother and I have never been able to figure it out — neither did the cops, I think it should be noted. We don’t know how all the windows and doors were banging, and we don’t know why we never saw a SOUL anywhere or how they could get around the sides of the house without leaving a trace in the damp earth.

Anyway, there is PLENTY more where that came from, if you’re looking for a seasonally-appropriate way to kill several hours.

Moving on… yesterday afternoon, I went out and ran a lap around the 5.5-mile loop. It was kinda drizzly and gray, and windy, so I didn’t take the bike out when I got home like I said I was going to. I did do some strength training upstairs though.

This morning, it was still drizzly and windy. Since I’m signed up for that century tomorrow, I knocked out the 12-mile long run on this week’s schedule. I did a lap around the 12.3-mile loop. It went fine, except it felt like my socks, which were soaked, kept bunching up under my arches. The second time I stopped to pull off my shoes and straighten out the socks, I realized it was actually the insoles, which had separated, sliding around under my feet.

I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen before. These were the Zantes I got at the end of June and was going to replace after Baltimore next weekend, but maybe I should just replace them now. That was pretty effing annoying.

So that took care of the long run. This afternoon, we’re heading to Salisbury University. The Sea Gull Century organizers already mailed us our race packets with our bibs and numbers for our helmets and bikes, but we have to pick up our race shirts in person. There’s also a pre-race lawn party, with New Belgium Fat Tire.

Tomorrow, the ride is a show-and-go start between 7 and 9 a.m. The weather might be drizzly still, but I don’t care about that. It’s not going to be 85 degrees like it was a week ago, but it’s also not supposed to be cold, and it’s not supposed to be windy either.

Sunday, I’ve got the other run on the weekend’s schedule, a 6-miler, but I’ll see how I feel. Might just be a rest day.

Other than all that, we’ve got a birthday party for my youngest nephew tomorrow evening, and there’s another NASCAR race, this time at Talladega, Sunday afternoon.

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