Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Saving More. Running Less.

I try not to get too worked up over things. Someone cuts me off in traffic, I try to imagine there's some emergency happening - late for an important business meeting, his wife's in labor - that makes him less than careful on the roads. Sometimes it works.

See, when I get upset, my stomach goes all weird and I can't concentrate and my heart beats a billion times a minute. It's not good. I hate it.

So, I've spent most of my life trying to stay calm. I may look like zen on the outside, but that's often a front to hide the turmoil inside. I figure if I tamp the lid on it enough, the fire will go out and I can maintain equilibrium. Sometimes it works. I have actually gotten better at it over the years.

Last week I lost all but two days to a January cold. Thought I was better on Wednesday and had a good run, but the next day wasn't so great. I took too more off and finally felt 100% Friday evening, so was really looking forward to Saturday. Except then it rained/iced/snowed and things looked really nasty and dangerous by then. I thought about bagging the whole week. I'd lost most of it to the cold, so what was one more day? And the ice. Ice is bad. But every time I thought about not running, I'd feel the old stomach started to squeeze and a chorus of "Dave's a loser!" would start up in my head. I know no one would blame me for not running that day. Since renewing my "No Treadmills Ever" pledge two years ago, I've been faithful to the point of changing the subject every time Mrs. Dave has mentioned replacing the one we had and ignoring all the ads for Planet Fitness (coincidence that the business's initials are PF? I don't think so). But the physiological and emotional responses were too unpleasant.

I went out for the slow three miles. It's important to run slowly on ice, and that fit right in with my current fitness anyway. I actually enjoyed that run a fair amount, except for having to stop and use my orthodontist's bathroom half way. Really how can you need to stop half way into a 3 miler? Don't get old, people.

Did you know you can buy replacement shaving heads for your Norelco? $30. Or you can disassemble it and sharpen the blades with a mirror and some 3-in-1 oil. About once a year I do that. I did it Saturday morning before our weekly trip to Costco for samples and lunch.

We had another couple of inches of snow yesterday. Light, fluffy stuff. When there's snow on top of ice, it either makes it a little better by giving a more adhesive surface, or it makes it much worse by covering the ice so you can't tell when you have to pay the most attention.

This time it was the former, and I had another few miles on the road to renewed fitness. The wind was way down for the first time in a long time, and there were still a few snow flurries, so it was a quiet, beautiful run.

Instead of the relaxing evening I had planned, I spent it with a dishwasher that wouldn't drain. There are three things to check before you should call a repairman when your dishwasher doesn't drain. First, look at the filter at the bottom of the inside. All the food you don't rinse off before washing goes there and if the pieces are bigger than the filter, they stay there and eventually get to be too much for the water to get through. There was a fair amount of stuff there, but after cleaning it out, I tried a rinse cycle and ... still no improvement. The second thing you do is make sure the drain hose isn't clogged. Anything that's gone through the filter inside goes through it, and over time you can only imagine the build up. Old little bits of food sitting in a dark, moist plastic tube for years and years. Ten years in the case of this particular appliance. Not to mention that ours (and probably yours) connects to the kitchen sink drain and sometimes that overflows into it. Anyway, there was probably a full cup of black, smelly goop in there. And no water flowing through. Had to pull the dishwasher out from under the counter, disconnect the hose at both ends, then use a snake and a bunch of hot water to clean it. Ick.

The third thing, btw, is to see if you have a valve bracket that opens/closes during the drain cycle. That can be stuck closed.

But, all done. And cheaper than a repairman or a new dishwasher (and don't think it wasn't considered at some point - we've never really liked this thing) because it was ... free.

At any rate, back onto my planned base building regimen and only a week behind. And it looks like the weather's going to improve slightly so I'm looking forward to that, too.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Great Toaster Oven Rescue

The other night we had tacos for dinner. I'm a soft tortilla taco kind of guy myself. The hard corn shells are OK, but I like the soft flour. I don't judge anyone. You eat what you want. Mrs. Dave is a hard shell girl and we get along OK. She also insists on a warm shell, whether it's hard or soft. I don't care either way. 

She and T-Rex had done most of the prep while I was running and cleaning up, so I took over for the final details - dicing up the tomatoes (just for me - after 35 years I still don't understand how she can not like tomatoes), shredding lettuce, cheeze, salsa, sour cream - all the stuff that makes a home taco better than Taco Bell. And because I'm such a nice guy and considerate husband, heating up her taco shells.
Now, it seems like a waste of space and energy to heat up the whole oven for a few taco shells, so I usually pop them into the toaster oven. We don't have tacos every day, but often enough there are no second thoughts. Turn it on, keep an eye on them, take them out after a few minutes and Mrs. Dave gets her warm taco shells.

Anyway, I'm chopping, dicing and shredding my way through the rest of the ingredients when I smell and see smoke coming from the taster oven. This is about the same time that I hear T-Rex screaming, "It's on fire! It's on fire!" Sure enough, there's a small spot of flame, dancing about the end of one of the shells.
This should be easy. I'll just open the door, huff and puff and blow that little fire out.

Except I neglected to account for the fresh inflow of oxygen when I opened the door. Suddenly the tiny flicker of fire was a big flicker of fire, rising out and up towards the bottom of the cabinets. Oops.
I blow on it. Nothing. Maybe I didn't get a big enough breath. Again, this time it seems to settle down, but just for the briefest of instants. I feel like Mrs. O'Leary must have felt. This is getting out of control.

My next move is designed to save the cabinets from catching fire. I pull the oven by the door handle to an open area of the counter and unplug it from the wall. Now I can take a big breath and really let loose the power of my runner's lungs and snuff this disaster out before something bad happens.

That's the noise the fire made when it blew back the wind from my oh so powerful runner's lungs into my face. I felt my eyebrows and eyelids sizzle. Oops again.

In the meantime, T-Rex is still screaming, running down the hall. Mrs. Dave is sitting at her computer where she's been this whole time, telling T-Rex to calm down it's just a little fire. Dad has it handled. (which I obviously don't)

By now I've decided that corn burns with amazing endurance and that it's time to bring out the big gun. About 20 years ago, in a fit of Y2K preparedness frenzy, we'd purchased a home chemical fire extinguisher. It had been sitting on the shelf under the sink ever since, only being taken out once or twice a year when someone was looking for a sack of potatoes, because that's where we keep the potatoes and the fire extinguisher was always in the way. At last - that big red can was going to have it's day and save us all from a fate worse than death - having to file a homeowners insurance claim for smoke damage.

I point the nozzle at the fire (how can those stoopid little taco shells still be burning?), and squeeze.
Nothing happens.

Perhaps a regular refresher on how to use a fire extinguisher would have been a good idea. I lose precious seconds reviewing the instructions on the side of the can (taco shells still burning), then try again.


Part of the plastic nozzle shoots out with a blast of the bright yellow powder into the mouth of the toaster oven. I feel an almost rifle-ish kickback and release the lever, stepping back from the cloud of dust and smoke.

The fire's out.

The counter is a mess. My eyebrows itch and my eyelids stick together a little bit like velcro.

T-Rex comes back into the room.

Mrs. Dave keeps writing her email.

The taco shells are inedible, obviously. Frankly, it's not really obvious that they were ever taco shells.
Not to be deterred from what's important, Mrs. Dave instructs me to use the regular oven to heat her next set of taco shells.

After dinner, I readied the toaster oven for discard.
Half way to the garage, I stopped. This has been such a nice kitchen appliance. So many reheated slices of pizza, toasted English muffins, toast, Totina's Pizza Rolls, refrigerator dinner rolls? How can I just toss it without at least trying to salvage my old friend?

I had T-Rex get me a screwdriver from the basement and start to work. The toaster oven is actually a fairly simple machine. A couple of heating elements, a timer, a rheostat, a few wires, all housed in a thin stainless steel case. I can do this.

As I start to dismantle the various pieces I question my judgment more than once, even making two more abortive moves towards the garage and the garbage can. Each time, I resolve to keep at it. Wire cutters, pliers, a larger screwdriver. Each piece comes off and into the kitchen sink for separate clean up, with Brillo pads and plenty of soap. Twice I had to empty and refill the sink. Even if I can't get this thing to work again, it hasn't been this clean since we brought it home from Target. Three wires had to be cut, then reconnected as I started putting things back together. I lost an inch off the power plug to give myself enough wire inside to make the connections.

But then, after two hours of elbow grease...

So, the Great Toaster Oven Rescue redeems me somewhat in Mrs. Dave's eyes. Remember the Kitchenaid mixer episode? I finally convinced her to let me buy one last part that might resurrect it. No good. It went out with the trash this morning, dead as dead can be. 

That one may haunt me forever.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Moving East: Another Great Western Adventure.

Dunno why two weeks seems like forever. That's how long it's been since I ran last.

No peep out of Gwen, but then I haven't done anything to stress her for eighteen days. Hamstring needs rest mostly, so I should be proud of myself for that. Instead, I feel sort of guilty. Runners.

Speaking of lost mojo, I've lost my social media mojo a bit. Just had a long trip with a few interesting activities and I may have insta'd once or twice. Only took one or two other pics the whole time. What's wrong with me? Probably nothing. There are lots of people who don't even use their Facebook account, aren't there?

BTW, that's all the running references there are in this post, so if that's all you're after, you can move on.
Let's see...

I took a half day off last Thursday and drove to Indianapolis. A few months ago, the boys and I made plans to see the Broncos play the Colts when they came out. No playoff spots on the line but we love the Broncos. As the time approached, Logan had work commitments that resulted in him cancelling, but we have friends in the Indy area and gave one of the tickets to their youngest son.

Suppose I should back up. We've been struggling with whether T-Rex was going to stay at school this semester. If not, I was going to drive out over Christmas and bring her and Cosmo (her car) home. I even checked flight from Indy to SLC, with the idea that I might fly out from there after the game. There were three seats at $160 on Friday. We weren't quite ready to decide, though. And what would I do with Abby from Friday to Monday? More money to park, then two cars home from there? Take a bus to the game? In the end, we waited to see how finals week would go.

It didn't go well. By then the flight had doubled in price. Can't complain, really. Totally our fault. The new plan had me renting a car to the game and leaving it at the airport, flying to SLC through Denver and taking a bus to Rexburg.

Mrs. Dave dropped me off at Alamo Thursday afternoon. That was an interesting adventure. I'm a little gun shy now about being late to pick up a rental car. Last time that happened the company rented my car. Felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode. So as the clock ticked past 1:00 PM, I got a little frustrated that there was no directions how to pick up a car at the Detroit airport. Lost of signs where to drop one off. We called Alamo and they could only tell us where to get on the shuttle at the terminal. OMG. In the end we just pulled in to the return area and asked a guy. That turned out to be the right move, and after declining the $11 upgrade from my compact rental the lot person (is there an official name for that person?) gave me a mid-size. Always decline the upgrade. So, at last I was on the road, only a half hour behind schedule.

But the weather was good, the roads clear and I wasn't driving south on I-75. Listened to Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz. I've seen a footnote or two about Brown in history over the years but had never known much of the story. Another flawed hero from the antebellum period. Part patriot, part outlaw, part soldier, part evangelist, part nutcase.

half hour or so before Indy, there was a notice about an accident ahead on I-69. Two minutes later, SIRI suggested an alternate route to the airport, so I exited and drove through Huntsville, Pendleton, Eden and Maxwell, coming into the city from the east on I-70. Thank you, SIRI. Made it to the airport just after 5:00 PM, as originally planned and about five minutes before Connor and Gavin got there, just enough time to turn in the car and walk out to the pick up lanes.

With plenty o' time before the game, we stopped at a gas station to fill up Connor's car and for me to look at a headlight problem he was having. He'd had one burn out and the new one wasn't working. The driver's side lamp is hard to get to in the old Civic, buried behind the power steering fluid reservoir. Outdoor Lucas Oil Stadium selfieFortunately, he had a pair of pliers that I used to remove a hose and get it out of the way. It was still dark and hard to see, though, so it would have been a dicey operation. At that point I had a flash of brilliance and decided to check the connection. It wasn't quite there, so I pushed a little harder, felt the "click", had him throw the switch and ... voila`! ... lights on both sides. I'm a genius.
Took the boys to dinner at Steak 'n' Shake, then walked to the stadium. Have to say I was impressed with that building. First of all, it's huge, of course. So nice. So clean. Of course we selfied in front. 

We still had an hour to kill, so we walked a full circuit of the concourse. Impressive. It's divided up into large blocks, each with a different sponsor or theme. 
Inside Lucas Oil Stadium. It's all about the speed.Inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Divided into different areas with different themes.
Huntington Bank zone. They were passing out free pens and other bank swag.
This guy was HUGE!
I was literally agog.
One more selfie, followed by the national anthem with a decently sized flag.
Lucas Oil StadiumIMG_0900.jpg
The Broncos started out a little sluggish, but rewarded us for making the trip with a good second half and the victory.

Then the weekend got interesting.

Connor dropped me off at the airport at about midnight. I walked through the mostly deserted main concourse to the completely deserted security gate. Excited to go through security with no lines. Except the two agents there informed me that security was closed for the night.

Wait. What?

Apparently security at the Indianapolis airport is closed from midnight to 4:30 AM. I'd just missed getting through. They hadn't even turned the "Security Closed" sign around. Back to the concourse I went. Fortunately (I suppose) there was a lounge/waiting area that had a number of soft love seats, apparently for just such an occasion. At least, there were a dozen or so people in various states of sitting, reading, dozing or otherwise cooling their heels. I grabbed one, checked in with Mrs. Dave, called my dad in Idaho for his 85th birthday (thank goodness for time zones I hadn't missed it and he was still awake), rolled up my coat into a pillow and slept reasonable well for a couple of hours, then a couple more.

My final wake up was at 4:45 and there was already a big line at security, long enough that I started to worry that I was going to miss my boarding. Just as I got to the last layer of lines I noticed that I had a TSA-checked boarding pass? WTH? How did I not see that? Dope. I'm a dope. A genius and a dope.
Anyway, I hurried down towards the gate, hopping on the moving walkway that I discovered after getting on wasn't working. Made it anyway and there didn't seem to be anyone boarding. Did they start early and I've missed the flight? Surely it was too early for that. My short panic attack was ended when the guy at the gangway said they were actually running a few minutes late. Whew.

That got me to Denver, where I had an hour and a half layover, time enough for an egg & sausage McMuffin. I watched as we rose over the Front Range, then slept until we reached Utah Valley. I don't know why, but planes almost always put me to sleep.

My bus was scheduled at noon, but since I was early enough, I called and asked to get on the 10:00 AM, if there was room. They had 18 on the 36 seat bus. Bonus. This was actually the longest ride of the day - 5-1/2 hours. I slept a little and read The Colour of Magic while the northern Utah and southern Idaho landscape rolled by. The folks moved to Driggs, ID after I started college at BYU, so about every other month I made that trip in my 1972 Corolla. Memories.

T-Rex was at the bus stop when I got there at 3:30 PM and we went to her place, one block up the street. We had the rest of that day and a couple of hours Saturday morning to finish packing her and Cosmo for the return trip. She has 2-3 times more clothing and accessories (thanks to the generous Mrs. Dave) than a college coed needs. The apartment complex has temporary storage for returning students. We're pretending for the sake of the storage that she's definitely coming back. However, there's only space for five of those 18-gallon plastic tubs. She had five, plus a monster suitcase, plus three smaller tubs, plus a rice cooker and a crockpot, plus a few odds and ends. We're saved by me having family in the area. Five tubs for the apartment storage, and Uncle Bryan's barn for the rest. That would all happen the morning after clean inspection.

First, I repacked all the tubs and the monster suitcase, then fit all her kitchen and miscellaneous items into the smaller tubs, called my brother to make sure he had a place to put them and arranged to drop them off the next day. Then I took her, her boyfriend and her roommate to dinner. We went to the same place as I took her and her last roommate, Fresco, which specializes in artisan pizza.Then I left them for the night. Stopped at Bryan's to put the extra things in his barn (having relatives in rural America finally came in handy), and took myself the half hour to Ammon, where Mom and Dad live. It was nice to sleep in a bed again.

Next morning I got up at 6:00, replaced the wiper blades on Cosmo since they were literally falling off and there was snow, then went to a local tool store and bought a small furniture dolly for $12. The apartment is in one corner of the complex on the 4th floor and storage is in the basement at the other corner. Last time we sweet talked the manager into letting us use a rolling cart they aren't supposed to lend out on moving day. I figured for $12 it was better to not take a chance at getting stuck carrying those heavy tubs almost a quarter mile, one by one. This may have been my most brilliant act of the weekend.

So, clean inspection. T-Rex has always been the last occupant to leave in her other apartments and has always been stuck with the worst of the cleaning. And been alone during the inspection, and therefore stuck with any deficiency. Her apartments have never passed a clean inspection. There were three of them this time, plus her boyfriend and me. The inspector was a student, too, and the nicest kid. He pointed out several things as he went along, and let us take care of them right then so the girls would pass inspection. Success.

From there, we went to lunch with my other brother who lives in Rexburg, Robert. He's a two time IronMan finisher, a former two-time state champion in the mile (and interestingly still holds the UT state record at the distance, since they switched to the stoopid 1600M shortly after he graduated). Last time I was here we had lunch at Dairy Queen. This time, I'd asked the girls (T and roomie) where they wanted lunch, and they said, "Dairy Queen." So, we had lunch with Robert at Dairy Queen.

And then it was time to quit the metropolis of Rexburg. Roomie stayed with us that night. She had a flight from Idaho Falls the next morning, and we were roading it south and then east. That night we all went to the church Christmas party with Mom and Dad, then went to bed early.

Now, for the trip.

I woke up at 5:00, but didn't wake T-Rex up until 7:00. It was going to be a long couple of days, but I didn't think an extra hour or two would matter much. If she had her way we wouldn't have left until noon because college student. My dad had offered to take Roommate to the airport - her flight left in the afternoon - so we said a quick goodbye and rolled out. It was cold (25o) with low clouds, but the roads were clear. Mrs. Dave had made me promise to stay on the interstate freeways, so we added a piece by going south to Ogden before catching I-84 east towards Wyoming. It's only about 100 miles longer, so no big deal although I miss driving through Jackson Hole and the Wind Rivers. The sun came out about the time we crossed into Utah. From there the weather was great - beautiful, sunny - all the way to Michigan.

We'd filled up the tank in the Little America west of Rock Springs, and should have stopped again in Sidney, Nebraska. Except since we'd come this way I was off where we normally make stops, and we ended up in sort of a "stop or don't stop" limbo then. So I passed Sidney and began to regret it 20 or so miles later. Ogallala was the next closer "big" city, but it was too far away. There was Big Springs well within range, but since we'd never stopped there and I didn't know how big/small it was and it was Sunday after dark I wasn't sure there'd be anything open. No panic yet, but I admit I was starting to worry. I also did not mention this to T-Rex. She gets really nervous about that sort of thing, especially since that time we actually ran out of gas halfway between Burlington and Seibert, Colorado five and a half years ago on Easter Sunday and had to wait an hour for AAA to rescue us. Anyway, then there was a sign for Julesburg, six miles away, just south of the border. At the last moment I took the exit and followed Highway 27 down, over and down in the dark. When we reached the town (population 1,200), I saw a gas station on the main street with lights on, but as we pulled up, there were signs on all the pumps that said they were closed for re-calibration. Uh-oh.

Fortunately, there was a Shell station at the I-76 exit. I-76 is a connector road from Denver to I-80, just inside the Nebraska line, and it was only another mile south, so we went there. The low fuel light never went on. Golden.

Except, there was more to come. A van was at one of the pumps with a small-ish woman moving around, to me seeming to be checking for things inside it. Maybe tossing out trash from an earlier drive-thru stop. While I filled up Cosmo's tank, I noticed a large clear plastic tub on top of the van. Then a tarp mostly hanging off to the side, with much of it shredded by what was probably freeway winds. Then I saw that the tub's lid was missing. The woman, who could have been anywhere from 50 to 70 years old and weighed about 90 pounds, continued to move in, out and around the van. When I asked if she was OK, she seemed more confused than anything. I'm always on the lookout for Karma points, so I told T-Rex to let Mrs. Dave know we were going to be delayed a few minutes and went to work. Since my pocketknife is with the TSA and its replacement is waiting for Christmas morning, I asked my new friend if she had one. She pulled a nice 4 inch jackknife out of the van, and it was a quick operation to clear away the damaged covering. Turned out it was one of two, and the other was in good shape. I decided to wrap the lidless tub with it and since she had been gifted a spool of nylon twine by some guy at Walmart in Denver (this woman was riding high on the kindness of strangers apparently), there was plenty of that to make it secure. In the meantime, the woman who was running the gas station this Sunday evening had found a five foot length of real rope in a back room. We used that to anchor the tub to the roof rack and she was ready to go.

T-Rex and I were about an hour behind where we'd planned to be, but whatever. Turned out there was a big Flying J truck stop at the Big Springs exit, so the side trip to Julesburg was completely unnecessary. Obviously, there was another reason we needed to be there at 6:30 PM that Sunday night.

I sit at a desk most days at work, so sitting in the driver's seat doesn't bother me very much. Once I get going, it's just my book and the scenery. I do stop to sleep, though, and we decided that 10:00 would be about right, so we used the phone to check into a hotel for about then in my favorite little Nebraska hamlet, Elm Creek. If you have an amazing memory, you might remember a similar road trip with Big Mac (DD1) a few years ago, when we stopped for gas and left her phone on the counter of the Pilot Travel Center in Elm Creek, discovering this lapse when we reached Lincoln and I had to drive back at 2:00 AM to retrieve it. At any rate, the Julesburg adventure made it so we got to EC after 11:00, so I was ready for a break. 815 miles in fifteen hours total.

The Rodeway Inn was pretty OSOM, and had a sweet upgrade to the environmental system, as you can see. Once we cranked that bad boy up to full, it wasn't long before we couldn't see our breath anymore, and it made for a comfortable night.

While she was content to let me drive the whole way, I had some trouble waking up Monday morning so I made T-Rex drive a couple of hours, getting us through Lincoln and Omaha. This trip seems to go faster the farther east we get as the size of the states gets smaller. 200-something miles to the next border is much easier to get to than 400+. Iowa, Illinois, a corner of Indiana and then Michigan. Home! 

We can always tell when we cross that border because the interstate immediately takes on the feel of a washboard. Bump, bump, thump. The closer we got to L-town, the roads became a little wet because they'd had a couple of days of warm temps after the last snowfall.

Since we'd gotten an earlier start that day than the previous and hadn't stopped for any Good Samaritan activity, we covered the 900 miles from Elm Creek in thirteen and a half hours. Mrs. Dave had worked a twelve hour shift that day and got home about two minutes before we did.

And Christmas is in four days. How in the world...?

That also means eleven days until I test out Gwen on the roads and see about a schedule for marathon #19. I put a sort of soft target out at the end of May/beginning of June for now but I need to see how that fits with NYCM in November. Don't want to leave myself with less than adequate recovery before I start that piece of training. Have a crazy idea of doing one of those Revel Runs. The one in Denver is June 3. Denver is easy to get to and an early June morning in the mountains should be comfortably cool. Probably need to work on my quad muscles since it's a point to point course with 4,708 feet of net downhill. (:o) It would be pretty fast until I die.

Not likely to do another blog post before the holiday, so let me send out my warmest wishes to the etherworld for a safe and peaceful Christmas.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Life's a (Rehoboth) Beach. RB Marathon RR

I think Quadracool’s face was worth the trip. I strolled into Dogfish Head behind Mr. Bacon late Friday afternoon, obviously hoping for a reaction. I love the Loopsters. I love surprises. HotPinkSneakers led the charge on this weekend in Rehoboth Beach, so I had to let her in on it. She was awesome at keeping first my tentative plan, then my actual attendance, a deeply held secret.

Bacon was at the house when I rolled in at 4:30 talking to Mrs. Dave about the latest T-Rex crisis, so all we could do was shake hands and smile. It’s been a year since our last face to face at Philly. Bacon’s fast. It’s fun to be in the neighborhood when he races, neatly trimmed beard and incredibly photogenic face. He pretends to hate people like I do. One of us is serious about it.

Speaking of the house in Rehoboth, it was a sweet launching pad for a Loopster weekend. I think they’ve gotten a different one every year (can you believe this is my first time there?). Less than a half mile from the starting line and less than a quarter from the finish. Not to mention tons of room and a huge kitchen. Since it’s off season for this little beach town, the price for the dozen or so runners was amazingly affordable. Parking was a little scarce, but I was able to use the sushi place next door’s parking lot for a couple of days before they flagged me for not being a customer. By then there was room in the driveway, so no harm done.

This was the second time I’ve dropped in unexpectedly at a Loopfest. Five years ago I hemmed and hawed about going to Twin Cities, and by the time I decided for sure, it seemed like a fun idea to not let anyone know. The only trouble with that was everyone knew I was training and it was an easy guess. Plus, Loopsters are self-professed internet weirdos, and there was more than one who simply looked up Schultz on the TCM registry. I’m not the only Dave Schultz in Livonia, but the other one’s not a runner, so… Bangle asked me outright one day and since I’m not a liar and couldn’t think of a graceful way to sidestep the question, I told him, swearing him to secrecy. Race weekend he blabbed it to everyone he saw, and by the time I showed up Saturday afternoon there may have been 2-3 people who were actually surprised (I’m not bitter though).

This time was easier to keep things under wraps. Not quite as many of us are quite as active as we used to be. There was a smaller crowd going. I didn’t tell Bangle. Then there was the whole taking all of August off from running and not sure I’d even be in shape for a marathon by the end of the year.

I did drop a hint or two if anyone was paying attention. Ocrunnergirl and aschmid3 connected the dots and looked for me in the race registry. OCRG PM’d me and I asked her not to say anything. So, not a total victory for stealth, but pretty good.

By November, my comeback was on schedule. I had a couple of decent 16 milers and my other long runs were good. Speed work wasn’t up to Marshall standards, but I was finishing them and feeling pretty strong, so I paid the extra to get a late entry, found a cheap flight into BWI, a deal on a car for the weekend and had HPS sign me up for a bed in the Loopster house.

It would have all been perfect if not for the hamstring going all wonky on me with a week and a half to go. I blame OCRG. In fact, I’ve named this hammy after her and took her with me every step of the 26.2 miles I ran in Delaware for my 18th marathon in 17 states, since I started this silly 50-50 quest in 2009. It was inspiring in a way, although mostly she was a royal pain halfway down from my butt all morning, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Have you noticed how hard it is, now that we’re all social media junkies, to travel without posting selfies and status updates about airports, rental cars, landmarks and restaurants? Until the surprise was fully sprung in Rehoboth, I had to go pretty dark, in case anyone was watching fb/Instagram (and of course they were) for SIX WHOLE HOURS! I’m pathetic.

As usual, I’d forgotten to check in to my Southwest flight 24 hours before so I ended up in Group C. The meant my carryon had to be checked. However, since I didn’t have to look for an overhead bin and I knew I wasn’t going to get a window or aisle seat, I grabbed the first one available - second row middle, between a young woman and a fit looking man of about 60 (or so I thought). Turned out, he was 69, has run 3-4 times as many marathons as me and is on the board of the Ann Arbor Track Club. I brought a book to read on the plane because I don’t like talking to strangers, but the hour flight literally flew by (see what I did there?) as we talked about marathons and other running subjects.

Thanks to BWI being a smaller, not so busy airport, it was only an extra five minutes at baggage to get it and it was on the way to the rental shuttle. I should also mention that it’s about half the price to fly into versus Reagan in DC. Props to Alamo, btw, for having the most amazingly fast counter I’ve ever seen at a car rental business. Walking out to the cars, I thought about a post I’d seen earlier in the day from QC about getting an upgrade in her rental. That’s happened to me and Mrs. Dave once. And now it’s happened to me again. When I reserved my car, I’d splurged on a mid-size since it was only $5 more for the weekend. The agent gave me this guy, just because. Turns out, this was the same guy who’d given QC her Cherokee upgrade. Winning.

I was early enough that I missed traffic getting out of town, and the 2-½ hour trip was actually 2-½ hours. Learned some amazing things about Alexander Hamilton on the way. One weird thing: I have my phone plugged in and sitting next to the infotainment screen in the Equinox and after about an hour it shut down, hot as heck and giving me the “must cool down first” error screen. I stuck it out the window for a minute to cool off, then set it in a different spot for the rest of the drive, which went by without incident.

Loopfests are so sweet. Getting to meet with old friends and getting to know new ones that you already sort of know because of the crazy internet thing. I got to add RunEatRalph to my list of Loopsters met. The more I meet and the less I travel the harder that is to do, so thanks for coming, McLuckie. Another newbie was Jay, a friend of QC’s. His price of admission is a bloop here, so stay tuned for that. No idea what his Loopster handle will be.

With race morning coming on, things stayed chill for the evening. Mostly we were anxious for NCAthlete to get there, since she was bringing the fixings for what turned out to be a killer lasagna dinner. And the best thing was there was plenty of pasta for seconds. I eat too much. Don’t judge me.

I mentioned this last week, but Friday was December 1, which means that Baconator Season has officially started. There was no Baconator weather in Delaware over the weekend, but having the contest’s namesake in the house made up for that little detail. There’s only one Mr. Bacon.

QC and running_eng had a contest for the most understated welcome.

Aschmid3 and Clark were the last to arrive. Apparently  that’s a thing. With race morning looming, the rest of the evening was fairly low key and then people started heading off to bed. I was one of the last because I always get up at 5 and didn’t need an early night. Finished the book I was reading and drifted off in my top bunk, wondering what my stoopid hamstring was going to do between the start and finish.

There was no question of a finish - I’m just like that - but what sort of finish? My moderate training pointed to a reasonable 3:50-something and a 2019 60-64 BQ. I’d even thought of asking to draft off of HPS, since she’s the Queen of sub-4 now. In the end, I decided that she didn’t need to be worrying about my sorry old butt and it was even money that this would be a major bust, with lots of walking/limping for up to 6-7 hours. But, no doubt there would be a finish of some kind.

After breakfast I asked OCRG to use her mad KT taping skills on the hammy, which I have named Gwen, btw. I’ve no experience with this myself, so I assume her job was masterful and gave me the most I could possibly get out of it that day (spoiler: it wasn’t much). I think she was a little uncomfortable working on the back of my leg, especially when it came to attaching the tape at the upper end, so I appreciate her efforts even more. I wasn’t trying to be creepy, honest. And then there was a leisurely stroll down the block and around the corner to the starting line, stopping for a group photo, courtesy of RER’s freakishly long arms (pic shamelessly stolen from the Rehoboth Loopfest facebook page and used by almost everyone already).

I made two trips to the bathroom before we left, but apparently the Gatorade I had with breakfast was way more than I needed, and had to make a dash to the POP lines. They moved pretty well, though and I made it to the start area, just ahead of the 4-hour pace group, in time for the start. I’ve stopped having pre-marathon jitters most of the time, and rolled over the mats, counted to three and hit Hal’s start button (at the finish I wait three seconds after crossing the line to turn it off as well - that way I don’t have the silly-looking pic of my grabbing my wrist at the finish that everyone does - fine, I’m weird).

And the Great Injured Hamstring Experiment began.

If everything went perfectly, my pacing strategy for the first six miles was 9:15, 9:00, 9:00,
9:00, 9:00, 9:00. Assuming that went well, I’d cut down to 8:45s for 7-20 and then see what happened after that. Felt the first little twinge about a half mile in. It wasn’t bad, so I concentrated on staying relaxed, on pace and keeping a smooth stride. It was a delicate balance. Rehoboth has all sorts of turns, which keeps the route interesting, but probably not the best course for Gwen and me at the time.

Did I mention I wore brand new shoes for this race? Heresy! I know, but hear me out. As I reached my taper, I noticed some serious wear in my 14th pair of Cumuluses. Naturally, I checked the mileage on them and discovered they were at nearly 400 miles - quite a few more than I normally get out of them (one of only two complaints I have about these shoes - the other is the delicacy of the upper than lets my occasional toe scraping actually tear a hole in it).

I was going to keep them through the race because of what happened the week before San Francisco, and then last Monday I saw that Asics had a 30% pre-Christmas discount. A quick search showed that my beloved Cumulus 18s were on clearance for $70. Minus the 30%, I got two pair for under $100. How could I call myself a runner and pass that up? Then I rationalized that my foot issues for TSFM stemmed from the insoles, not the new shoes themselves and that if I switched out the new insoles with the Powerstep Pinnacles from the old ones, I’d be fine. Right? Right? Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I wore the shoes around the house on Wednesday and Thursday to and in Rehoboth. I felt pretty confident by that point, but still switched the insoles.

Back to the race. Mile 1 was right on time at 9:17. Still feeling a small knot at the hamstring, though. Not great, but it was something I could definitely deal with for a few hours. Maybe it would loosen up as the day went on, the sun came up and it got warmer. Mile 2 was 8:45, exactly like I planned. This would be OK.

Until it wasn’t.

2.18 miles (I checked). One step and - WHAM! - Gwen said she was done with this running garbage. Hopped a couple of steps and pulled over to the side of the road, letting the stream of runners pass by as I walked/hobbled/limped forward. I was going to finish after all. Visions of walking 24 miles through the day flashed through my head and I reassessed. Walking is SO SLOW! While the pain subsided, I tried a gingerly shuffle for a few steps, experimenting with my carriage, stride and landing, searching for a way to go faster than hiking speed. Things would seem semi-OK for a bit, and then another step would result in a flash of pain. After a few starts and stops through miles 3 and 4, I discovered that fully extending my leg was the trigger for the worst of it. By keeping my knee the tiniest bit bent, the hammy would stay calm enough for me to stay at a slow trot.

It was going to be a long morning, but I knew at that point that I’d finish not walking, and might even beat my PW of 5:16. At least the weather was nice. Perfect, in fact. Short sleeves with gloves that I’d be casting off sooner or later.

At 3 miles the half and full routes separated, and I made my first of many POP stops. This one was in a parking lot a little off the race route. I almost thought the two boxes weren’t for runners they were so far away. But I also figured that speed wasn’t my friend and a little detour was a small price to pay. Had to wait for a minute outside. There was more of that to come, too.

The good news was that I was moving at more than a walk. They weren’t the 9:00 miles I’d intended, but at about 11:00, I would surely finish in under 5 hours. With Gwen screaming at my with nearly every step, that would be a significant victory.

There was a little loop and then we were into Cape Henlopen State Park. Whenever I found myself focusing on the hammy and how many more long miles were ahead, I’d force myself to ease off the effort, look around and appreciate the beauty of where I was. Earth is a great planet, isn’t it?

Right before Mile 4 there’s a sharp left and then the course runs beside Gordon’s Pond. There was a guy beside the trail, not running. He looked like a runner but wasn’t wearing a bib. As I approached, I recognized - Bart Yasso! I’d missed the announcement of his schedule (not that I watch his schedule or anything) and had no idea he’d even be in the state, let alone at Rehoboth and certainly not 4 miles into the race, far from anywhere, all by himself. Since I was in no hurry, I stopped. He smiled and shook my hand. I mentioned briefly that I was hobbled but soldiering through, hamstring and all. He either remembered me from the two other times we’ve met (LoopPhest 2011 and NYCM 2013), or he’s really good at acting like he remembers the millions of runners he meets at races all over the country. So he wished me luck and I shuffled on down the trail. Bart Yasso. smh

The next POP was at almost Mile 7. Of course I stopped. Sadly, this stop only had one machine and three other people waiting already. Seven minutes I stood there. No hurry, right? Spent the time talking with my new best friends, including a quadracool lookalike who was five months pregnant, reminding me of tinkbot baking up a little bun of her own as we speak.

Those seven minutes actually were a good thing. I don’t recommend standing motionless for such a long time as a normal race tactic, but when I started again, Gwen had actually relaxed quite a bit, and I was able to move along, while not a normal speed or cadence, at a less stilted gait and at nearly ten minute miles. I was much more fatigued than I should have been, though. My altered stride was putting a lot of stress on the quad, the inside of my knee and on the other leg. Didn’t think it would kill me, but it wasn’t the most comfortable I’ve ever been, either. I determined to walk through all the water stops and just keep going.

8-12 were my best/fastest miles of the day, although I hated the course from 9-12, running along a straight section highway next to some subdivisions. I did skip a POP though, so that was another win of sorts. Except for the Dairy Queen after Mile 10. There had just been a water stop, but I still scooped up one of the sample cups of chocolate/vanilla swirl with sprinkles and jammed it into my mouth. I immediately wished I’d taken one with each hand. Imagine how good they would have been on a hot day. Yum.

About here was where my altered gait, and the extra effort it took to maintain momentum at the slower pace, really caught up to me. Mile 10 felt like Mile 23, and there was SO MUCH FARTHER TO GO.

Mile 12 is when Abby came calling. The Mile 12 POP is directly across the road from the Mile 8-½ POP. Both were occupied with three people ahead of me. The next one was two miles ahead. Even if I’d known that at the time, there was no way I was going two more miles without a stop. So I waited again, several more minutes, did my business and (finally!) began closing in on halfway.

13.1 at Rehoboth may be the most understated halfway point of any of my 18 marathons. The timing mat was there, and a couple of guys keeping an eye on it. Not much else. I passed over at about 2:35 and wished I was done instead of halfway. I’ve always appreciated the tenacity and determination of back of the pack runners, and this day added a few more degrees to the awesome meter for people who spend this long on a marathon course. Once again, I had to remind myself to step outside the pain and pay attention to the beauty around me. It helped, while I was going a mile at a time from there to the end.

Pass a mile, listen for the Prince’s beep, walk .05, hobble off on my so-called running for another mile.

I wanted to say my brain shut off for the next few miles, but it was all too engaged. There was a guy on the trail with his two sons and their bikes. I asked to borrow one. They declined. Mean.
The second half of a race like this is a leap-frogging affair between you and your walk/run mates, and the extra slow runners who just keep going. Every once in awhile the Galloway intervals will match up and you get to talk for a few minutes with a new best friend. There was a group of women I’d been playing that game with almost from Mile 3. They all had matching blue shirts with some writing on them I never did decipher except for a large “RUN”. Passed them for good between 16 and 17. That was when someone said the five hour pace group was just ahead. I couldn’t see them.

My mile/.05 routine was still working for me when I came back into town and saw some Loopsters at Mile 18. Gwen, John and someone else I can’t remember. That was a big boost going into the final eight, as was actually seeing the five hour pacer’s sign a hundred yards or so ahead of me. Maybe I’d still catch them. This has a short section where the last half mile of the race passes alongside in the opposite direction. The clock was about 3:30 and of course I remembered what it was like to be finished at that time already, knowing that this time I still had another hour and a half on my feet. I wished to die. Stopped at the POP (of course) at Grove Park. The bridge over the canal was weird. It’s all open grating. Just weird.

Then there was some doubling back and forth through town and some housing, then into the other out-and-back section inside the park. I saw HPS, on her way through the pain cave on her way to another sub-4 finish. I’m telling you, that girl is on fire. This trail cost me a few more minutes, stopping I think four times to remove pebbles from my shoes. I always have trouble with pea or smaller sized rocks getting in my shoes when I do trails and I was worried about this for several weeks. The trail was in good shape compared to other years I was told, but that didn’t keep the rocks out. Fortunately, I was able to catch them all early and fish them out while they were still reachable without taking off my shoes, which would have cost me even more time. At Mile 20 I started leap frogging with the five hour pacer. She had 4 runners left with her, and looked all fresh and bouncy. I hated her.

Mile 21 (23 on the way back) has a bunch of state flags over the trail. I recognized Michigan and gave a mental thumbs up. They had music there and a guy yelling out names and places. I had hoped this was the turnaround but it was just a tease with the real turnaround another mile ahead. But, hey, I was going to finish. For reals. And I was mostly passing people. A few would catch me back when I had my walk breaks, which I’d extended to .1 at each mile, but then I’d inch by them again later. Still averaging about 11 minutes per mile, too, and stoopid pacer woman wasn’t passing me anymore.

Another bonus was that I’d stopped needing to spend time at the POPs. Mile 18 was the last one I saw the inside of. Win.

No disrespect intended to my trail running friends, but my feet were overjoyed to find themselves on asphalt again at 24-½. Just one more walk break and I could check Delaware off my list. And the five hour pacer was still behind me. There was a short woman in the neighborhood that I hadn’t been able to shake. She was one of those slow and steady types that I’d pass only to have her overtake me when I walked my .1. I don’t want to say I was annoyed, but I was annoyed. Fine. I’m a bad person. She was there at the end, just a few yards in front of me, and I just could not pass her that last time. So I guess you could say she chicked me.
Across the line, count three, stop Prince Henry. Five hours and six seconds. And I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to reach the end of a race.

There was some kind of uber-long pine needle something that had attached itself to my shoe in the last 20 yards, so I leaned over to pull it off, impressing the guy who had my finisher’s medal with my flexibility and balance. I’d have rather had those other six seconds.

I grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk, chugged it down, then tossed it towards a garbage can. I missed badly, and looked over at a couple sitting at the curb, shaking my head. I wasn’t going to be picking up that empty bottle. The woman smiled and walked over to get it. Thank you, ma’am.

Ronswansonsstache was in the beer line when I went past the party tent. I said something unintelligible and shuffled back to the house for a shower. I knew the party would still be going when I was cleaned up. And I needed some cleaning up. That was more time on trails than I’ve had in I don’t know how long, and my shuffling gait threw up a lot of dirt and dust along the way.

These are my favorite race sox.

Then, it was party time. Of course I’m famous for my party skills. I ate food. I drank some Sprite and some more chocolate milk. I took a couple of photos of Loopsters.
I went out with HPS to see the last finisher come in. Mad props.
Then I napped.
Dinner was at Grotto Pizza. RER and I almost put away one between us. When the real party got going, I stayed at the house, because T-Rex had a concert that was streaming at 9:30. So I won.
I stayed up after that to watch Ohio State beat Wisconsin and greet most of the party crowd as they came back.

About 3 AM I was awoken by a noise (snoring), and ended up on one of the couches downstairs. It was fine. Sunday was pretty chill. A few went out for walks or short runs. I hobbled around the house a little, being a baby about my hamstring (and the rest of me), and taking more pics.

Aschmid3 and Bangle looking energetic.

Running_eng relaxing after smoking the Rehoboth Half course the day before.

Quadracool being, you know, cool.

I had another pic of OCRG, but she liked this one better.

NCAthlete and her nearly perfect toes. Balloons pilfered from the race party tent.

Slow_running (who wasn’t very slow, btw) being stationary.
My flight out was later in the evening, but I needed to be stationary myself when T-Rex was ready to talk homework, so I left early for BWI and cooled my heels there for awhile. The good news was that quadracool was flying out at the gate next to me, so we had dinner. That let me come down a little easier from the high of the weekend’s Loopfest. Good times.

Now back to work and some healing. This hamstring is a thing, and so far it seems like I may need more than my usual two weeks off. Guess my jokes about not running this winter may not be so funny. We’ll see in a couple of weeks. Even today there’s still something wrong down there and the front of my thigh on that side is much more sore than normal after a marathon. I’d like to do a marathon in late spring, and Mrs. Dave and I are still talking about the pikermi in Surf City so she can see our Mission Viejo friends. NYCM is planned for November, but if spring doesn’t go I may do something earlier to BQ for 2019.

If I can keep from getting injured. Sigh! I may have to do some of that strength/cross training stuff everyone talks about all the time. Maybe it’s because I just don’t know what to do or how often or how much or anything about it. I know how to run.

Saving More. Running Less.

I try not to get too worked up over things. Someone cuts me off in traffic, I try to imagine there's some emergency happening - late fo...