Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Different Kind of Marathon

When I woke up today (correction – when my cat woke me up), I thought the plan was to ride my bike or go for a run before I started cleaning house. But at 5:45 a.m. (the cat apparently forgot it was Saturday), it was still dark outside, so I decided to get started on my cleaning projects. All summer I’ve subscribed to the “a lick and a promise” method of cleaning – “lick” down the cat hair and “promise” to do better next time. However, I have company coming on Tuesday, so I knew I had to get out the big girl mop. Both of my sisters are cleaning fanatics, and one of them even likes to clean house, but, unfortunately, Mrs. Clean was not available to assist me.

Fortified by a cup of left-over coffee and some toast, I started with the guest bath. I washed the curtains, the rugs, and the floor. Then I moved on to the guest bedroom – more curtains to wash. Since my guest room is also a repository for items that belong to family and friends, but they have no place else to store, I decided I needed to do some re-arranging so my guests would have a spot for their suitcases. I moved the rocking chair to my home office, put the recliner back together so someone could actually sit in it, took some books to the garage, and put the extra pillows in my closet. By then, it was fully daylight, but I was into high cleaning mode and decided to postpone the bike ride/run until later in the day.

I ate a spoonful of peanut butter for energy and tackled the kitchen cupboards. Soon my garbage can was filled with out-dated spices, hard-as-rocks colored sugar, tubes of decorator frosting, and other sundries my sister gave me three years ago because she didn’t want to move them to her new house or throw them away and she thought I could use them. Perhaps I would have, if I still baked cakes and cookies, but that was in a past life.

The next project was my porch. I emptied pots of weeds, swept up nails and other trash the roofers left behind when they installed the new roof last week, and wiped off the furniture.

Back inside, I dusted every knick knack, scrubbed two more bathrooms, and cleaned out the litter box. With my chores about two-thirds done, I was starting to hit the wall. Opting for a lunch break, I was surprised to discover it was 2:00 p.m. Considering what else I had to do in the house, the possibility of a bike ride/run later seemed unlikely. And my body felt like it had already logged those miles, anyway.

After lunch, I finished dusting the furniture and baseboards and vacuumed. If everything wasn’t covered with cat hair, this wouldn’t have been such a hard task, but the two critters that share my house are the hairiest “domestic shorthair” cats I know. I’ve tried all sorts of ways, with varying success, to “de-hair” my house, but I think attempting to qualify for Boston might come easier for me. And even though my visitors like cats, too much cat hair is still annoying, so I persevered.

Final job – scrubbing the kitchen floor. I did it the old-fashioned way – on my knees. I’ve tried lots of mops, but the results just don’t satisfy me.

By 5:00 p.m., my house was as clean as it’s going to be, the last load of laundry was in the dryer, and I was ready for a glass of wine. Then I noticed the refrigerator handle was really grimy, so – like the final sprint to the finish line, I grabbed my scrubber and had at it. The pristine result was as good as a medal.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jamestown Memories

When my children were young, we used to camp at Jamestown Beach, next to the ferry landing, so the Patriot Sprint, which starts and ends at the old campground, is like a homecoming. As I walked along the beach shore on Saturday evening after picking up my race packet, I looked up the bluff to our favorite camping spot, now overgrown with brush. In my mind’s eye, though, my 4-year-old daughter was nimbly scooting down the hill to watch the Baptists or Methodists singing hymns on the beach – and then was escorted back to our campsite after the service by a kindly church member, who was no doubt horrified to find the sweet child’s father drinking a beer.

The next morning, as I considered the river in the rain, I would have liked to been tucked snugly in our old camper instead. The water temperature was 74°, so wet suits were allowed. Despite the buoyancy a wet suit offers, I tend to feel like I’m choking in it. Hoping to alleviate this problem, earlier this year I purchased wet suit no. 3 –in a larger size and different style. The suit felt okay on dry land, but the Patriot swim would be its “christening.” My other problem with a wet suit is that getting it off after the swim eats up my time in T1, but I don’t swim well at all in chilly water, so I opted to wear it.

Probably, though, I should have gone without the wet suit because the water did not feel cold and my neoprene-swaddled body didn’t seem tethered to my naked arms. I made more progress kicking on my back than actually swimming. I silently agreed with a fellow swimmer who said, “Well, wet suits suck.” I kept aiming for the yellow buoy where we were supposed to turn, but it seemed like the distance between it and me stayed the same. I noticed that some swimmers who had started in the groups behind me were already turning toward shore, without having passed the buoy. Then I heard someone in a boat telling swimmers to turn because the buoy had come loose. I’m not sure how much out of the way I went, but I do know I’m not a fan of open water swimming.

The distance from the beach to the transition area was a hike through a grassy field. I struggled a bit with getting my left foot out of my wet suit, but still my T1 time was 16 seconds less than the maximum possible time I’d estimated.

I rode the bike course in exactly the same time as two years ago, which was disappointing because I’d expected to be faster on my new bike. Or, maybe I should spin it this way – I’m just as fast as I was, even though I’m two years older. I think I needed my bike pal KG riding ahead of me as incentive.

The run course took us through another grassy field at the beginning and end, with a paved trail in the middle. My time was a little faster than other 5K runs I’ve done this year, but still slower than I’d hoped.

All in all, the event provided another good memory of Jamestown Beach. Because I was the only official entrant in my age group, I was awarded first place, albeit by default. Another competitor had a better time than I did, but she was registered in the novice category rather than age group. Whether I was first or second, though, the prizes were the same – a wine glass and a bottle of chardonnay from a local winery.