PR and Death at a 5k

My high school reunion is a school-wide event that happens every five years.  It includes a 5k race, which in past years I didn’t run, because I wasn’t a runner then and the idea of running 3.1 miles (or walking 3.1 miles) was a bizarre concept.  So 2010 was my year to see all my old pals AND run the reunion race.

I’ll be honest, the course sucked.  The first mile was uphill, which is something I didn’t even think was possible on the plains of the Texas panhandle.  The weather also pulled a fast one on us that day.  Instead of typical dry heat and wind, we had still hot humidity.  When we lined up at the start, I ended up near the front, so I was ahead of most of the field for most of the race.  I barely barely made it to the top of the long hill.  The only aid station was at the top before we turned off onto a section of highway, but I didn’t stop.  (I don’t typically stop for water unless I’m running 10k or further.)  I had to shuffle along a bit during that second mile to get my breath back, but what goes up must come down:  the last mile was a quick one back down to the finish, with just a slight uphill turn right at the end.

I ended up second in my age group and earned my first medal.  (I had won a plaque in a previous race, but somehow medals are cooler.)  And I PRed–ending with a time of 28:35.

First Medal

Now here’s the sad part:  a man died at the race!  After I finished, I went inside the community building that was the race staging area and got some water and fruit.  When I got back outside, there was a man laying just past the finish line and the race director was running over to him.  Luckily, there were a couple of people who knew CPR, so they began helping him breathe right away while an ambulance was called.  The ambulance arrived in just a few minutes and they continued CPR, then used a defibrillator on him and eventually took him away to the hospital.  He never re-gained consciousness.

Apparently, the man had collapsed early in the race and another runner offered to help him back to the community building.  He declined and finished, then collapsed again at the finish.  I hope he didn’t have any pain, but I wish he had stopped at his body’s first warning signs and been checked out.  I hope I would do the same.

Boston ’09

We spent three or so days in Boston and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I have some thoughts, which likely won’t surprise you.

1) I’m a bit of a history buff, so it was really really cool to see all the historical sites. We walked the Freedom Trail first thing when we got there. This is a trail that starts in Boston Common (est. 1634) and continues past places like Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House and Faneuil Hall. There is actually a red line on the street (or red brick) that you can follow the length of the trail. Easy as pie! We didn’t quite make it all the way to Bunker Hill, but we almost did.

2) There are dead people everywhere. If you’ve known me more than two seconds, you know that I cannot resist a cemetery. Well, in Boston, you can’t avoid them. Seriously, we were passing a burial ground every ten feet. I was completely captivated by Paul Revere’s grave and I did tell Samuel Adams that he has good beer. For real. I think he heard me.

3) The waterfront lifestyle is interesting to me. There is some of that in New York, but I’ve never seen anything like all the sailboats in Boston Harbor. I don’t know how to sail. I don’t know if I’d like sailing. But I definitely liked seeing all the boats sparkling in the sun. We took a long harbor cruise and the tour guide says if you live in Boston you can learn to sail for free. That’s pretty cool. There are lots of islands around Boston, each with its own unique history. We enjoyed learning all about them. If you had a week, you could probably visit each one, at least briefly. I didn’t really see any beach-y areas, but I’m sure there are some. We also enjoyed eating fresh seafood and visiting the aquarium. Those kinds of activities are always a bonus of being so near the water.

4) We visited five neighborhoods: Back Bay, North End, South End, Charlestown and Beacon Hill. We also spent some time in Chinatown. The neighborhoods aren’t quite as distinct as in New York, but I could definitely tell when we moved from one to the other. The North End was quite captivating, with all the Italian restaurants and interesting nooks and crannies. Next time we visit, I’d like to move out away from downtown and visit some others. We did not go to Cambridge/Harvard, so don’t ask. I just didn’t care to and I guess Mike didn’t either, because he didn’t mention it.

5) Boston’s population is about 609,000 (metro 4.5 million), so it’s not huge, but it’s certainly a decent-sized city. For its size, it is unbelievably clean. I’m not kidding. It made me nervous, like no one lived there. Even in the tourist areas—and admittedly, we were in very tourist-y areas—there was no trash around. Anywhere. I’d like to know how that’s possible.

6) Also if you’ve known me for two seconds, you know my love of subways and public trans. I was anxious to try out Boston’s T, which I’m now referring to as the “Fisher Price Subway System.” When they say orange line, they really mean orange line. Everything is orange. Likewise for blue and whatever color line you are riding on. Our tour guide says the T is the nation’s first subway system, so props to Boston for that. The cars are smaller than New York’s, but likely about the same as Chicago’s. Also, the trains are pretty short and they don’t necessarily fill up the whole platform, so one time we had to run to get on the train even though it appeared we were in an okay spot. The trains were efficient, though, and the maps super easy to read.

All together, Boston was a great time and I’m glad to have visited and I’d like to go back. I recommend it. I’m glad to mark Boston off my list of “Cities I Want to Visit.” Next up will probably be Philadelphia or Washington, DC.

NYC Trip–August 2008, Part 3

Thursday was Norma’s big day on the town! Well, more like couple of hours on the town… nevertheless, Mike and I left Tom’s about 10:00. I was headed to Manhattan; he was headed to Queens and parts beyond. I was going to “Broadway in Bryant Park”; he was going to a job interview.

Anywho, we found ourselves riding the D train ride with NERVOUS GUY. This guy was pretty young, dark-skinned, bald with a goatee. He was also wearing very dirty clothes—very dirty clothes! But he was obviously quite interested in his appearance. Sometimes you get a subway car that has shiny walls at each end. We were in one of those and the guy couldn’t stop looking at the wall, rubbing his head, straightening his collar, pulling up his pants, etc. He also made some strange hand gestures and talked to himself a bit. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I got the distinct impression that he was going to a job interview and was afraid he wouldn’t get the job. I kind of think he probably didn’t get it, but who knows? After a few stops he went to the other end of the car and did the same thing down there. Good luck to him.

I had decided that the shoes I brought on the trip were too small and trust me, you cannot walk around New York in shoes that are too small. (Unless you have a high tolerance for pain and don’t care whether you lose your toenails.) After Mike switched trains, I was contemplating said shoes and I decided I needed new ones. There are lots of Payless stores, but I couldn’t think where one was, so I decided to hit up the K-Mart in Astor Place. It was a bust. If you typically shop at a K-Mart, let me encourage you to take a trip to your nearest Target or Wal-Mart before you buy their crappy shoes. You’ll get a better selection and much better quality!!!

I went ahead and had breakfast at one of the 5,000 Starbucks franchises in Astor Place, then I got a wild hair and decided to walk over to Washington Square Park to watch some chess. There were guys with their boards set up, but no one was playing, so pfft.

I got back on the train to head to Bryant Park and found myself in a car with about 30 kids from the Flatbush YMCA. I’m guessing they ranged in age from 5-10 and they were attended by two very harried 20-somethings. The guy was trying to keep the boys seated; the woman was trying to keep a little girl from eating her lunch. God bless them. I did feel sorry for them, but I was also amused. I have no idea where they were going, but one little girl was talking about Times Square. You couldn’t pay me enough to take five kids to Times Square, much less 30.

So I finally got off at 42nd Street and made my way to Bryant Park. (Me and 10,000 other people.)

Bryant Park is a small park at the back of the New York Public Library—the branch with the big lions out front. It’s really pretty and it has a lot of rules about when you can go there and what you can do. It does have a big lawn, so they have events all the time—like movie nights and performances. It’s where Good Morning America does their summer concert series. (In fact, there were little girls lined up around the perimeter when I got there, waiting for the Jonas Brothers Concert the next morning. I had to look up the Jonas Brothers to see who they were. Ha ha)

It was kind of hot and I got there a little bit early, so I walked around a bit and then found a place over on the side in the shade. There were performers from five shows that day: Spring Awakening, Gypsy, Xanadu, Mary Poppins and Wicked. I’m wasn’t familiar with Spring Awakening, and I’m still not, but I was really excited because I’m familiar with the songs from the rest. All of the performers were awesome, except I was really disappointed in the selections from Gypsy. They only did two songs, while everyone else did three. They did “If Momma Was Married” and a song with the farmboys (yawn) and that was it. Where’s MAMA ROSE? If Patti Lupone didn’t want to show up, they could have at least sent her understudy. You can’t have selections from Gypsy and not have “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” or “Rose’s Turn!” At least give us the freakin’ strippers!!!

Okay, I’m done ranting now.

After that was over, I darted into the library to go to the bathroom and headed off to kill a little time and look for a Payless. The library is kind of a pain, because they check your bags when you go in and when you come out and it’s not like any library you’re thinking of, I promise you. If you want a book, you’ll not find one easily at this branch. Still, when you gotta go, you gotta go…and it’s a cool building. I walked a big circle and found a Payless on right by Grand Central Station. (I also found Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse. I didn’t even know he had one.) I traded in my too small shoes for just right ones and I was good to go. As I left the store, there came half a dozen or so NYPD cars, running lights and sirens. Wonder where they were going?

NYC Trip–August 2008, Part 2

While perusing apartments on Craig’s List, I came across a listing from Rapid Realty. It looked intriguing to me because it appeared the agents help renters find housing. I went to their website and poked around and decided we should at least go by their office and talk to someone. The agents there deal solely with rentals in Brooklyn, so they know all about the area and they have relationships with all kinds of landlords. They had some suggested documentation that potential clients should have on hand, so I printed out a bunch of stuff before we left Amarillo. We arrived at the office, told the woman at the front desk who we were and what we wanted. She introduced us to Cal.

Cal is now our agent. He showed us three apartments that day, one of which we liked. We filled out a bunch of paperwork and handed over all the financial documents I brought for us and there you go. We left after being told we might have a meeting with the landlord the next day.

We felt like we had accomplished something, so we took a walk around our possible new neighborhood…up the hill to Green-Wood Cemetery, then over to Prospect Park.

The park was awesome because there were dozens of runners! I wanted to run, too. They have concrete paths and dirt trails running alongside–so cool! But alas, the neighborhood is hilly and we were tired and ready to relax. Where better to relax than Coney Island?!! (Someone will laugh when they read that, I’m positive.)

We took the train back to Coney Island, walked around, walked down to the water. They have the hugest, most ginormous seagulls ever at Coney Island! I swear, they are probably two feet tall and FAT. You can walk right up to them; I’m sure they’re sure you’re going to feed them. Blech. Gross birds. I can’t decide what’s grosser, though: seagulls or pigeons. When we got really really tired, we took the train back to Bensonhurst, grabbed some McD’s and went back to Tom’s.

We ate and watched him clean out the cabinet under his kitchen sink. As we prepare to move to NY, he’s preparing to move away. [sniff] Tom is an old old old friend of mine from college. He is very generous and very funny.

After that, bed. Just…bed.

NYC Trip–August 2008, Part 1

The trip began smoothly enough, albeit at 5:00 in the morning. When you tell Mike you want an early flight, I promise you will get an early flight!

Landing at JFK around noon, we hired a cab to take us to Bensonhurst, to Tom’s house–the friend we were staying with. The cab driver claimed not to know how to get to the address. This was the second cab I’ve ever taken in NYC and the other time the exact same thing happened. Seems to me you would know your way around if you were being paid to drive people to and fro. Sometimes optimism and logic get the better of me.

Mike got frustrated and finally had the cabbie let us off near Coney Island. That led to the taking of a wrong train and a delay in getting to Tom’s, but eventually we made it there–tired, hungry, cranky. I was more cranky when I found out that Mike’s description of Tom’s house (“just a couple of blocks from the train”) was actually about eight blocks from the train. Eight blocks is far enough, but when you’ve been up a long time with no food, it seems more like 20.

Anywho…we got our stuff dropped off and found food and felt better. Tom had suggested Lenny’s, which is right next to the 20th Ave. train station and was featured in a scene from Saturday Night Fever, but I was not in the mood for pizza so we went to an Asian restaurant across the street. Ah! We felt so much better after eating! In a much better frame of mind, we headed over to Rapid Realty.