Sunday, May 20, 2012

House Sitting

I had the pleasure of house/dog/pool sitting the last couple days while my parents and brother are in Key West. The biggest responsibility for me this time (besides shoving anti-biotics down by dog's throat) was taking care of the pool. It was opened later then it was supposed to be this week; first scheduled for Tuesday but with all the rain it didn't happen until late in the afternoon on Wednesday. My mom left me specific instructions for how I had to watch the water level and fill it if it gets low, let the filter run and then Friday set up the pins to turn the filter off and on (which by the way seems funny screwing on these tiny little on and off switches to the clock dial in this day in age. Do they make electronic ones or are those just ridiculously expensive?!)

So after filling the pool yesterday a little higher then it needs to be (oops! at least it didn't overflow) I came over this morning to care for the dog and pool. As I had a few gin and tonics last night, I wondered outside this morning with the dog to enjoy the lovely weather and see if any of the pool water had evaporated (as of 11 am it has gone down a got bit so crisis averted!)

I'm looking into the now crystal clear water and by the rope separating the shallow and deep end, and I see a dinner roll bobbing in the shallow end. As I grab the skimmer from off the fence I'm trying to rationalize how a dinner roll got in the pool. Did the crazy neighbors throw it over the fence? Did trash break somewhere and the wind carried it into our yard? (Highly unlikely as we haven't had any dinner parties out there and this roll was nice and fresh. Albeit, soggy.) I scooped the roll out of the pool and threw it over the fence into the empty field behind the house.

I put the skimmer back on the fence posts to rest and as I'm walking back toward the house I notice this black blob in the pool caught on the rope with a little blob next to it. At first I thought they were just leaves as there are many of them currently floating in the pool. Walking over I see it is a bird (dead) and a mouse (also dead) by the rope.

And then it dawns on me; this poor little bird came with his dinner roll and mouse looking for a quiet evening meal, sitting on a rope in some soothing water, and something went horribly wrong. What went wrong I guess I will just never know. But I was impressed that bird having both protein and carbs for the meal, he (she?) just needed some grass and that would have been a perfectly balanced meal.

I grabbed the skimmer again and fished the bird and mouse out (terrified that they would spring to life and attack me, but my imagination tends to lean toward the over dramatic) and tossed them over the fence to join the dinner roll (mystery solved!) I will be sure to inform my mom that lots of chlorine and maybe a shock treatment is due to the pool since I am a bit skeeved out by my findings.

So my Sunday morning started out with fishing a dinner roll, dead mouse and dead bird from my parents swimming pool. Things can only go up from here right?!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Weather Woes

What a crazy bout of weather we've had these past couple months. From going to a pretty non-existant winter with only one snow storm that didn't even require me to break out the shovel (yes!), to an early and surprisingly warm spring that has sent allergy sufferers (myself included) into a sneezing, puffy-eyed, foggy head haze.

Which lead me to think about the weather and how not only is it a topic of conversation whenever there is a lull, but it's one of the things we complain about most. This winter was "too warm" so it didn't kill all of the cold/sickness germs and everyone is now getting ridiculous illnesses. I know of two people, one had pneumonia and the other bronchitis. In April and May, when does that happen? Then early this spring was "too hot" which means it has people complaining because it's "too early" to put on our air conditioning. It's "too sunny" that we haven't gotten enough rain to wash away all the pollen. The past few days have brought rain and now it's been raining for "too long" and we need the sun to dry everything out.

So, if there was a hypothetical perfect weather utopia, would we be satisfied? Or would we still have to complain? If the weather was always the exact most comfortable sunny temperature and it rained always when needed but never too much to be an inconvenience? If then in the winters it got cold enough to feel like winter yet we wouldn't have to deal with 4 feet of snow shutting down every major highway and making life impossible? If spring brought all the flowers to life and the fall rounded our seasons by cooling the weather to transition to winter? Or would we want somewhere that is just warm all the time? Or somewhere that is cold all the time? I'm sure that there would be a different idealistic weather situation for any individual you might meet.

I think that as a society (or just as human beings?) complaining is just what we do. We always want what we don't have. Not only when it comes to weather, but with life in general. I'm no different, there are days (mostly hot, super humid August summer days) that I wish my super dry, think, curly hair was just pin straight and flat as a board so I wouldn't have to deal with the project of reigning in frizzy puffy curls. So I think that even if we were to somehow find this perfect weather utopia it still wouldn't be good enough. Somehow we would tire of the perfection. It would become boring.

Plus I believe we use weather complaints as a way of relating. It doesn't matter if you're talking to someone old or young, tattooed or conservative, rock star or religious clergy, EVERYONE can relate to the weather. It has an affect on all of us and our daily lives. And everyone has an opinion on it. So by breaking the ice with a weather comment, it's easy to find some common ground to engage in conversation which eventually leads to other common topics.

But I must say, the past 2 days have been just perfect for my taste. Not too hot, not too cold, and a lovely breeze to make you stop and notice all the beautiful nature that is around you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Broad Street - A Re-Run

My mama, myself, and my BFF Colleen
This is the second year I participated in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. For those unfamiliar with the race, it is a ten mile run that takes you all the way down Broad Street in Philadelphia (which is probably my favorite question, where do you run? Down Market Street, but they call it the Broad Street run. Here's your sign). It starts at Central High School Athletic Fields and ends at the Navy Yard.

I was nervous this year as I hadn't done nearly as much training as I had last year. Plus I worried that last year it was only fun because it was my first time doing it (that's what she said. yes I went there). Between a cold that knocked me on my butt for 10 days, a tragedy with one of my best girl friends, and a bit of laziness mixed in there, I knew I was under-prepared. Everyone kept telling me that I would be fine because I'd done it before, along with distances longer then 10 miles (half marathon aka 13.1 miles aka I don't go all the way). This race was a test of getting past the little voice in my head telling me to stop.

Well this race even in my second year of doing it is still my favorite and the most fun I have along any route that I've done so far. The energy of the crowd is intoxicating. As I know I wrote in my previous blog entry, there are people all along the route high-fiving and cheering you on. They don't even know ME yet they are clapping and encouraging me to keep going. Plus there are people in this race of all walks of life and fitness levels; it's so motivating.

So I started making mental notes on my mileage to do a wrap up of my race. Mostly it was to distract myself from the pain/little voice in my head telling me to stop. But it worked.
I ran with my best friend Colleen for only 2 miles this year as opposed to the 7 I was able to keep up with her last year. I definitely want to improve that for next year! Anyway, to my wrap up:
Miles 1-3- Fun. Do you know what 30,000 runners look like? RIDICULOUS. No matter how many times I looked up ahead of me there were people EVERYWHERE. It's pretty overwhelming.
Mile 4 - My shoulders start locking up, I'm obviously tense. I keep circling arms to keep them loose and trying to relax my upper body.
Mile 5 - We're going around the circle for City Hall. Yikes it turns into a cattle shoot, everyone squeezing by. I get a surge of energy between the new crowd gathered and the realization that I'm halfway done! My right knee starts throbbing, but I'm ignoring the pain.
Mile 6 - High-Five former Pennsylvania Mayor Ed Rendell in his blue track suit on route. He was there last year and Colleen saw/High-Fived him. I did make sure to wipe my sweaty palm on my pants before the high-five, and he said "only 4 more to go!".
Mille 7 - I'm focusing hard on my playlist, I've only 3 more to go. Feel a blister on my right foot starting to form. Voice in head getting stronger that I need to stop. I'm ignoring her and concentrating hard on song lyrics and the crowd's energy.
Mile 8 - Blur, but we're now near the sports complexes (go Phillies/Flyers/Eagles/76ers). I know I'm close to the finish. Pushing down voice in head even though she's getting louder.
Mile 9 - I start bargining with myself. I see the overpass and know that from there I will be able to see the Navy Yard gates and from the gates it's only a 1/4 mile to the finish. My quads are on fire and my calf muscles are getting tighter with every step. I keep motivating the voice in my head "come on girl you can do this you are so close!" as Kenny Loggins "Danger Zone" is blasting in my headphones (where are the awesome fighter pilot jets when you need them?!). I make it to the underpass, around a bend and see the Navy Yard gates. I run down hill and let out a cry of relief once crossing the gates, knowing I've only gotten a short while to go. With Linkin Park's "Bleed It Out" now blasting through my ears, I sprint to the last quarter mile (stupid, I know) but all I wanted to do is finish. I cross the finish line only 3 minutes longer then my time from last year.

And you know what I'll take it. It was under two hours which was my goal, but I don't run for time. I'm not fast as running is by far not my favorite. But it keeps me healthy and I do races to stay motivated.

My knee (which, subsequently if you know me, is my bad one) was so swollen when I finished but I'm happy to say I'm not losing any toenails this year. With only one blister on my right foot, I'm not complaining. Today I'm my knee is better thanks to some serious icing last night, but my achiles are killing me, probably from that last sprint. And this wouldn't be a complete post without something nerdy to say. The scan bib results were the coolest thing! They had a QR code right on the race bib that when you finished you scanned it and saw your official results. Loved that addition!

Along the route where some awesome shirts and signs.
My favorite shirts were:
- Smiling Is My Favorite
- Am I not dead yet?

Then there was a man running with a BatMan cape on. According to Colleen, at one point BatMan stops at a median, chugs a beer handed to him and continues the run. As he's running away the man who gave him the beer proudly yells "that's my brother!" I'm sorry I missed that, and that I didn't think to chug a beer during the race.

My favorite signs:
-Worse Parade EVER (I'm sorry, but every time I see this I laugh)
- near the end: "You're almost there" and right next to it "that's what she said"
- You've got stamina, call me
- Do your feet hurt from all the ASS-phault your kicking?
- Free beer at the end of the race, RUN FASTER

And to the people with the sign that read "stop now and have a beer", you better have beer to back that up. I asked them and they said they didn't have any. Do you really want 30,000 runners mad at you? Think about it.

Overall, I had such a blast again at Broad Street Run. Thanks to all the volunteers and organizers for making it such an amazing race again this year. I know it was a first for a good friend of mine, so I want to say CONGRATS to JD on finishing the race! I'm so happy and proud of you. Congrats to my mom and Colleen who also had stellar races! And mostly congrats to all the runners who get out there and finish the race! It doesn't matter how fast you are, it only matters that you have the guts to finish!