Posts Tagged weather

The Art of Running in the Rain

I woke up today at the usual ungodly hour. After silencing one of my many alarms, I heard the hushed sound of falling rain outside. It was a scheduled day for a run. As I began going through the daily morning routine, I weighed my options. Yes, I have run in everything from blizzards to hurricanes, but with the current pandemic of flu circulating, I preferred to reduce my risk of lowering my immune system and tempting fate. After further consideration, I decided to go out for the run.

For the twenty plus years I have been actively running, some of my best runs have been in the rain. I really cannot point to one reason why, it is just the way it usually works out. People who are not avid (read fanatic) runners often ask why anyone would go for a run in the rain during near freezing temperatures, while the runners just smile and nod. Perhaps it is my knowing that during those days I will only see the most diehard runners out there and we will nod and wave in a mutual understanding; or maybe it is more that I know that I will rediscover the reason or reasons I run.

Over the past few years I have been dealing with a few nagging injuries, the latest one sidelined my running for several months. Recently, I have begun slowly working back up to the speed and mileage that I had prior to the injury. It has literally been a process of re-education on the basics of running; mentally and physically. Running in the rain presents additional challenges like avoiding puddles, potholes, and drive-by tsunamis. Throw in the fact that at this time of year I run before daylight and the logistics can be more than a little disconcerting while recovering from an injury.

Still, I embraced the challenge. As I set out on the run, the rain fell lightly, without any discernable breeze to complement it. The temperature was well above freezing, so ice was not an issue. Out on the road, I had to plan my steps well ahead of time, avoiding all that I could without the benefit of ambient light. Only two cars passed me around West Chop, normal for this season. I began to get a feel for where to step and where to avoid, even while correcting my stride and pace for my still recovering injury. While the run was challenging, I felt more confident with every passing mile.

I continued to run past my initial turn that would have ended my usual loop. With my confidence bolstered and my stride having become quite comfortable, I decided to extend the distance just a bit. When I did turn to begin the final leg of the run, I had the energy and rhythm to increase my pace ever so slightly; something that had not been the case for quite some time while recuperating. At the end, I felt tired, but not spent. The rain continued to fall as I went inside the house to stretch and cool down.

Once again, one of my best runs happened as rain fell consistently, challenging conventional thoughts otherwise. As I reflect on that run, I find the parallels to my life of the past several years, persevering through conditions that many others might falter or concede. The fact that I (or anyone) simply continues on and deals with whatever life doles out is a testament of the human spirit. Sometimes we can sidestep the puddles, other times we just need to splash right through them in order to reach the other side. Whatever it takes, just keep running.

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The Other Side

Though the winter that is currently concluding has been one of the mildest that I can recallNew Englandever having, the arrival of spring is welcome. The time between mid- February through late March can be some of the leanest and tedious on Martha’s Vineyard. The barren darkness, the empty streets, the closed businesses all seem to call into question one’s decision to remain on island while so many others do not. The time is not unlike some long journey or menial task, trying the patience, if not the sanity of those brave souls that dwell on it all. Still, once it has passed, the experience will be something that you can say builds character, right?

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I managed my time very efficiently over the past 6-8 weeks. Many of the projects I had hoped to complete never even got started. I could blame it on the mild weather that beckoned me to the mild, sunny outdoors or the sporadic business in the office that drew me into working days I had planned to take off, but that would not be the whole truth. No, for some reason I just did not feel like pushing myself to be as motivated as I normally have been. Call it hibernation, melancholy, or just plain laziness I could not get started on anything this winter.

So now the arrival of spring taunts me, as I know I have precious few days that will be my own. Whatever you call it, spring cleaning, turning over a new leaf, or simply using the arrival of the warmer weather as motivation, now is the time to do all that has been put on hold. Looking around to use the energy of the new businesses on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, I should be optimistic for the coming season.

I have never been one to live in the past, so I must believe that the worst of everything is now behind me; I have made it to the other side. Time to slap on some colorful new paint and hope for the best for every business that has made it to the next season. The “Welcome to Cape Cod 2012” sign is up and soon the boat schedule, along with the rates, will be changing for the summer season. I did not shovel snow more than once this winter and I don’t intend on doing it for a good long while.

Every season I see people return from all over, coming to see the island “in season” when they see fit to partake of all we have to offer them in their time of leisure. Many are “snow birds”, leaving for 2-4 months to avoid the “dead of winter”. For all of those individuals that are part-timers onMartha’s Vineyard, you might ask “how was the winter”, but you will only be told that we made it though; we made it to the other side.

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Holed Up On Island

I just finished off an Italian sausage sub the size of my head. It took me all afternoon, but I did it. I also consumed about a pound of raw string beans, a head of steamed broccoli, a couple of handfuls of pistachios, several tangerines, and whatever I ate for breakfast. I’m still hungry. Before you think that I have given up and given in, you should know I have been doing double workouts every day. Yes, one before work and another after. It’s what I do to pass the time. Borderline OCD, it actually keeps me sane. That and blogging. I have several online. Under various identities, maybe you have already seen them?

Okay, so I do leave the island every now and again to fulfill certain familial obligations, as well as tend to off island business interests. I would rather not leave my island lair, but life is sometimes cruel that way. I wonder how long a reader would continue to read this post if I simply extolled the virtues of my magic bed that remains toasty warm nearly an hour after I drag myself from it’s warm embrace to brew the daily yerba mate’. It calls to me as the Sirens called to Odysseus; threatening to ruin my morning schedule. It is worse in the doldrums of February and March, when then sun does not rise until after 6 AM.

A schedule is the saving grace when the office hardly warrants more than three days of tending each week. Make a plan and stick to it; no distractions, no procrastinating, no excuses. Go to bed earlier rather than sleeping later; stick to getting up at a set time every morning. These are not resolutions, these are rules, people; we all need rules to function in society, or so I’m told.

Getting the morning workout done actually feels liberating. If nothing else is accomplished the rest of the day, the morning workout has been done. The second workout of the day is for those truly motivated individuals that feel the need, like runners and bodybuilders. The best part about working out is the eating; you can eat more to fuel your workouts, which brings me to the food.

This time of the year, the pantry seems to yield staples that have not been seen since I don’t know when. Packets of Indian food from Trader Joe’s get mixed with wild rice that was left behind by some long forgotten roommate. Vacuum packed MREs given as gag gifts are eaten with gusto when given a dressing of green curry. Sure there are occasions when one will splurge on some purchase at Stop & Shop or even Cronig’s, but that is the exception when there are several more months to budget before new revenue begins to roll in to replenish the coffers. I actually set aside one day each week to indulge, just to give me something to look forward to.

So there are several more weeks to go before the Spring Track and Field season starts, when my time is no longer my own; there will be no “home” meets this year, as the track has deteriorated to such an abysmal condition that it has been deemed “unfit for competition”. Long travel days lay ahead for the entire season. Another reason to continue to make the most of the time that is mine, while I bide my time until the days when the sun inspires us all to “rise and shine” and once again be sociable, possibly even civil, once more.

There is another way to guarantee to make an islander greet you warmly, possibly even invite you in for some conversation, bring food; fresh baked goods, savory slow cooked foods, or rich calorie dense desserts. Enough said, go in peace.

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The Brooklyn Chronicles, Part 5 (A Weekend in Connecticut)

(Originally posted 10/30/2007)

While I may be writing this series chronicling my transitional move and daily strife, I mean life, inBrooklyn, there must also be the contrast of my time away from the city, as that time has become that much sweeter. Although I had to again endure many hours on trains, both MTA and Amtrak, I knew that a much anticipated respite awaited me inConnecticut. Nearly two full days without having to deal with clients, scheduling, or business in general was something I had not had since sometime in May, over six months ago. Still, I had plenty to do and I could at least spend some of that time with my parents, who I had also not seen since May.

Fall has always been my favorite season. The fall foliage and the crisp air stirs memories of returning to classes at school, the end of the hot summer days and, because I grew up in a farming community, harvest-time from the local orchards and farms. Just driving around the towns that have always been so familiar to me was comforting, but to see all of the fall colors framing the countryside was exhilarating. To try and explain what it means for me to buy apple cider from Clyde’s or apples from Holmberg’s would be like explaining buying bagels in Brooklyn to a New Yorker. Each person has a special ritual or memory that they revive when they have the opportunity. The fall harvest of apples in Connecticut is mine.

The train into New London would meet my parents’ ferry from Fisher’sIsland, but I had a good half hour to stare at a glorious full moon on a rather mild evening for late October. I enjoyed the quiet time and took solace in the absence of sirens, which seem to be ever present in the city. When the ferry finally did arrive, it was well past 8 PM and it was a short drive home. The odd fact that both my parents and I spend the majority of our time on islands is simple irony. We might be a family of people seeking solitude perhaps, but we are a family none the less.

Of the many tasks on my to-do list over the two days, the one shopping for furniture was the most bittersweet. It was not that I had to spend the money that I do not have that was irksome, but rather the reason I was buying it. I had lost everything in a house fire and either had to replace everything by the second anniversary or lose the depreciation money from the insurance company. While I may be furnishing my home with some wonderful things, I would much rather have back what I had lost. Even after I had selected so many pieces, the task of measuring the spaces in my home would prevent me from completing any part of this tedious task.

Unbeknownst to me, my mother would be attending a graveside memorial service for someone I had known. In a town as small as ours, it is not whether you know someone, but instead how well you knew them. In this case, we knew the family better than the person. A short service on a yet another glorious fall day made the service easier in every way. A fall funeral somehow seems more appropriate than those at other times. Perhaps that is just my opinion.

Over the years, my family has gone through times where we would eat meals together on a regular basis, but in more recent years it happens mainly on holidays. On this rare occasion, there were more of us there than not. We could eat our fill, give each other a hard time then finish by recounting our most recent travails. I had the experiences on the subway system to tell, including the gestures and expressions that had accompanied the subjects of the tale. Finally, we would plan our week ahead and see where our paths and plans would cross or mingle. An evening that could hardly be surpassed by one riding the 4/5 Train back to Brooklyn during the rush hour.

The next day began with a trip to one of the local banks to closeout yet another of my dwindling accounts. Long dormant and rather paltry in size, it still took longer than it should have to close it out. No matter, as the money was already spent, as all of the money I will be making for many years to come has already been appropriated for accounts I owe. If only those people that owe me money would settle-up, I would not be in such financial despair.

Speaking of settling-up, it was time to pay the mechanic for the work done on the infamous Honda. Totaling over $1100.00, the work solved the problems that had weighed heavily on my mind during the long drive fromConnecticutto theCape. While it did not make the car any more presentable, the repairs would get me where I needed to go. As I drove away from the shop, all I could do was to try and convince myself that the car would now last much longer than I would have a use for it. Either that or that it would last until I could afford to buy another car, one with air conditioning.

I decided to drive over to my house, the one I rent to tenants. The tenants fall into the category of those individuals owing me money. Rather than seeing if they were home, I simply spent a few minutes walking around the house, taking note of the trim that I would need to paint in the spring. I had lived in the house for several years, working on it and rehabilitating the long-neglected home until I had decided to return to college for yet another degree. The income from the house paid for more than just books. Now it was barely holding its own. Although there may be different tenants and it may be different times, it is still the same house.

Ending the day by driving to the train station is not really any sort of comfort. I remember a similar ritual during my college days, when I would drive home on weekends. That drive was more enjoyable, as I looked forward to my time in college classes. The current travel has become more travail, as I hardly know what the next day will bring. As I waited for the train at the station in Old Saybrook, I thought back over the past few days and took solace in the fact that I do have my family to back me up in my current situation, as best they can, however they are able. That knowledge gives me hope that I will make it through the next few months with my sanity intact.

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The Brooklyn Chronicles, Part 12 (Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself)

(This blog was originally posted 02/17/2008)

So, as January became February, there emerged a trend among my clients that was more than slightly troubling. They were leaving New York City for Florida, London, and other locales, leaving me destitute. While there had been plenty of “interest” among a small group of new referrals, very little work had materialized from it. While the commute was still quite time consuming, my mind was plenty busy with the alternatives and options available to me at this point. In addition to that focus, there was a great deal of “mental static” distracting me. Some of it was actually constructive and useful.

Of all the commuting that I have done, it seems that it inevitably grows in distance with the amount of money waiting at the other end. I guess if that were not the case, I would be unwilling to travel that distance? It also has become apparent that no matter how far the commute ends up being, I am able to develop a mindset that facilitates the time to become tolerable, for the most part. This is not to say that I would much prefer not to commute at all, but we all do what we need to do to make a buck and make ends meet.

Amongst the thoughts that rattled around in my head, there were thoughts of how much longer I would be willing to travel ever greater distances without feeling as though I were spinning my wheels. I saw it either as a time-frame in either years or fiscal necessity. But the formula contained too many variables in either case to come to a definitive answer. The fact remained that without some change in the economy that would enable my practice on the vineyard to return to its’ former profitable glory, I was destined to travel in the off season to make-up the diminished revenue.

Throughout the many passing years I have kept myself busy enough professionally to overlook any sort of social life. Not that I would prefer to be bar hopping or clubbing even if I did not have such a financial need to work, as I have always been more of the solitary type. Still, the small social void had been filled with my canine companion that I lost in the house fire. The fact that I am travelling so much and cannot raise another dog while travelling is offset by my reluctance to commit to having another companion. My joke is that it will be either a girlfriend or another dog and that a dog is not only easier to train, but has a much lower maintenance level. Well, it’s funny to me.

The so far mild winter has given the illusion that we will be getting off easy here in the Northeast. I don’t buy it, quite frankly. While I would prefer it, I will not believe it until June, when spring comes to the island. Yes, it is usually in the mid to lower 50’s throughout May, so June is the benchmark for decent weather. After my last bill for propane topped out at nearly $900, I could do without any more cold weather. As for the warmer weather, when it does arrive, it brings the promise of another tourist-filled season, when I can try to pay-down my acquired debt.

Well, I guess it all comes down to money at this point. Filling my thoughts, day and night, my financial woes are those of so many individuals these days. No matter how many ways I figure it, I have many more miles to go before I see the light at the end of the tunnel, to mix metaphors.

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Of the changes one must adapt to while living on an island like Martha’s Vineyard, the isolation ranks right up there at the top. While I do enjoy the isolation for the most part, it is the accessibility that tends to irk me every so often. Once you decide to go off island, it is a commitment that sometimes lasts longer than you initially planned on. Such was the case recently, when a classic Nor’easter descended on the East Coast.

This past Saturday was the Eastern Athletic Conference League meet for Cross County at Borderland Park in Massachusetts. As one of the coaches, I usually accompany the thirty team members to their off island meets, and this was no exception. While the forecast had predicted nasty weather for later in the day, it was pretty calm in the morning and it remained so until the early afternoon. By the end of the first race, the rain had begun to fall. By the end of the final race, it was getting pretty windy to boot.

The bus started back to the ferry under a steady rain and increasing winds. As every islander knows, it’s the wind that will stop the ferries from running. With this in mind, I kept checking the Steamship Authority website and my twitter feed for updates on the status of the boats. At just after 3:30 there were grumblings of trouble. Possible cancellations of boats due to the weather echoed from a few sources. Just before 4 PM there was word the 5 PM boat had been cancelled. That was the boat we had been shooting for.

As the bus pulled into the lot just after 4 o’clock, the lot attendants in the shack said the 5 o’clock boat was on time. Further confirmation inside the ticket office proved that information to be bogus; the 5 o’clock had definitely been cancelled. Now as soon as I heard of the cancellation, we had started to explore the options open to us, should the remaining boats also be canceled. The high school athletics director had been calling around to the motels and hotels in Falmouth, but there were limited accommodations available. Seems the Cape Cod Marathon was scheduled for the next morning. Go figure.

Shortly after 4:30, it was decided that the remaining boat crossings for the day would be cancelled. So there we were, with thirty soggy, hungry teenagers, looking for lodging for the night. Long story short, we get seven rooms at a local inn; three for the boys, three for the girls, one for the two coaches. Dinner consisted of thirteen pizzas. Luckily the kids were too tired to get into any mischief and the night went without incident. Well, almost.

Being an insomniac provides one with opportunities missed by most, like seeing rain turn to snow at 2:30 AM, then back to rain at 3:30. By the time 5 AM rolled around, it was time to start calling the Steamship office and getting updates from the internet about conditions and forecasts. Since the “ghetto” inn gave us a bum television, our BlackBerry devices were working overtime the entire time. While the kids slept we called several office numbers, tweeted a few contacts on island, and hoped for the best.

It was not until a few minutes before 8 AM that we confirmed the first boats would leave the docks at 8:15. Rushing to catch the 9:30 AM boat, we rousted the kids, arranged for the bus to pick us up, and packed up our still wet gear. The boat was packed with those who had suffered the same fate as us and they looked just as weary.

The boat ride back was rather calm, the skies had cleared, and we were all going home. The minor inconvenience is always diminished by the beauty of the island as you round the chop and enter the harbor. Yes, some might simply call it Martha’s Vineyard, but it is the island I definitely call my home.

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