Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Market to Market Relay

Me, Callina and Kate

I can now check relays off my running bucket list. I ran the Market to Market relay on May 12th with my friends and relatives, Kate, Eric, Kevin, Callina and JA. We had a 7th team member too, Curt, who was a good addition. Kate is my niece, Lee’s sister Cathy’s little girl. She was the team captain. She was also 35 weeks pregnant so she ran the shortest legs, but still pulled off 10 minute miles. Callina is married to my nephew, Andrew, also Cathy’s son. JA is Cathy’s husband, Eric is Kate’s husband, and Kevin is Eric’s twin brother. Got that? There will be a quiz in 30 minutes! Everyone was in their thirties except JA and I. I was the oldest person on the team.

The relay goes from Jefferson, IA to Des Moines, a distance of 75 miles for the runners, and much more for the van that took us from one exchange point to another. The legs that the runners ran ranged from 2.5 miles all the way up to 5.8. We ran through cornfields, woods, little towns, and as we got closer to Des Moines, city parks too. It was run almost entirely on paved bike trails.

On Friday afternoon I drove down to Cathy and JA’s farm in Zumbrota, Minnesota. JA and I drove down to Iowa together. We had a nice time driving together, but it was a long drive, around 4 hours, to Jamaica, Iowa where Kate had reserved a Airbnb for us for the weekend. Jamaica was about halfway between the two ends of the relay so it was a good place to be. It was late by the time we got there, and we had to get up early the next morning so before very long I was in bed.

Saturday morning I was up by 4. I had to do my usual pre race routine, although I didn’t really know what to expect. By 6 am we were in the van and on our way to Jefferson. There were a bunch of teams running this relay, all consisting of 6-8 people. They start the teams in waves. Our wave started at 6:45 am. Some waves started as late as 10:45 am, and those people didn’t finish until 7 pm at night. I’m glad we were earlier! Eric ran off and we hopped in the van to drive to the first exchange point. And that’s what we did all day. Drive to the exchange point, cheer on our runner, drive to the next one, for 18 stages, so 18 times!. We always had plenty of time to get to the next exchange before our runner arrived.

The day was cool, cloudy and a little misty, perfect running weather, but chilly for standing around. In the early morning the temps were in the 40s. By the end of the day they were in the mid 50’s. The next runner would take off their extra layers and start off. Once the runner arrived at the end of their leg it didn’t take very long before they wanted to get back in the van and put on their layers again.

We had lots and lots of healthy snacks in the van, and basically I just ate all day. We had muffins, Lara bars, Clif bar’s, fruit, water, Gatorade, cookies, hard boiled eggs. I also ate a gel before each of my first two legs.

After Eric came Curt, then me, then Kevin, then Kate, then Callina and finally JA. Then we started over with Eric. Eric, Curt, me, and Kevin all ran 3 legs of the relay. Kate, Callina and JA all ran 2. 

Passing the Baton!

My first leg was stage 3 of the relay. When Curt handed me the “baton” I didn’t know what to do! It was a slap bracelet, but I tried to slap it the wrong direction and nothing happened. Curt turned it around and showed me how it worked and then I was fine. Kate said well you sure weren’t a kid in the 80’s, and I guess that’s right. Sarah and Daniel must have had had slap bracelets at some point but I don’t remember them!

I figured that since I was running about 13 miles total I could aim to run at my half marathon pace, but as it turned out I could run a little faster than that. I ran the first leg at an 11:20 pace. 

I ran mostly through cornfields on a rail trail. It was pretty and quiet and very rural. It was also very flat. It got a little boring at times, the only variety occurring when a faster runner passed me.

Why did 90% of the runners say “good job” as they passed me? Is that an Iowa thing? I found it extremely annoying. You’re passing me, good for you. You don’t need to encourage me. You have no idea if I’m doing what I would consider a good job or not. And frankly I don’t give a rats ass what you think. Say, hi, or make a comment about the weather, or don’t say anything at all. You don’t need to give me a verbal pat on the back. I know I’m slow, just shut the f up about it!

That is one thing about being a slower runner on a relay team that has some faster runners as well. Both Eric and Kevin were fast, coasting along running 7-7:30 mpm. I’m sure they passed plenty of people, and then those people turned around and passed me. We really did stay with a lot of the same teams all day.

Erik Passes the Baton to Curt

I passed the baton to Kevin and bundled back up and jumped in the van. It was awhile until my next leg, probably several hours. Then it was time to do it again. I ran stage 10 the next time, 5.1 miles at 11:14 mpm. It was also flat, and full of corn fields, but it also had some wooded areas. Again I was passed by a lot of people, but I also managed to pass one other girl. She tried hard to stay with me, as I would run/walk she would pass me and then I would pass her. For awhile she was putting a little distance between us and then I passed her again and I never saw her after that. She was taking it pretty seriously too so she probably wasn’t very happy about it. But it cheered me up! Ha, I’m competitive sometimes!

Here I Come!

My last leg, stage 17, was the second to last leg. It was shorter, only 2.8 miles, so I decided to try to go a little faster, aiming for 11 mpm and ending up at 10:50. It’s hard to run a third leg. Especially for us older runners, it’s getting kind of late in the day and when I was getting ready I felt a little stiff. But I did my warmup exercises for a third time, and I was fine.

This was a very pretty leg, through a very nice park in Des Moines. The first part went downhill along a creek and it was on a mildly undulating bike path. There were some really fast runners in this stage, zooming past me, since it was shorter and they were looking to make up some time. I went as fast as my tired legs could go and before too long I was finished!

I was really glad to be done with running for the day. But wait, we had to run one more time! There is a team finish where we meet our last runner in downtown Des Moines and run together to the finish line.
We hurried to park and walk to where we re supposed to meet Kevin, but he had been there waiting for awhile and decided to go ahead and finish by himself. Kate was really tired so the rest of us kind of strolled briskly to the finish line together, where we got snacks and a nice commemorative glass.

The Finish Line!

Then we walked over to the after party, got our free beer, and chose our dinner from a variety of food trucks. I got a pizza. It was good, but I was hungry and not at all picky at that moment.

As we sat down to eat it started to rain in ernest. At least it managed to hold off for most of the day and we didn’t have to run in the rain. We hurried to finish our food and get a team picture taken. We were all ready to go back to the b&b, take a shower, and get in bed.

It took our team about 11 hours and 20 minutes to do the relay. That’s a long day, and we were fairly average, coming in 67th out of 129 teams in the open mixed division. And the next day we all had long drives to get home again too. That’s the main thing I didn’t like about it, all that driving. 

I don’t think I’m a big fan of relays, although I would do it again if it didn’t involve so much driving. I’m also certain now that a Ragnar relay is not anything I am interested in. I have no desire to do this with two vans and 12 people and drive around for 24 hours. I’m too old for this shit!

But I’m glad I did it. I enjoyed hanging out with everyone, and I enjoyed the runs. And now I know what a relay is like, so if someone asks I can tell them!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Welcome to Waconia! Sunday May 6 2018

We’ve only been here a few days, but most of the boxes that we intend to unpack are unpacked, the furniture is in its place, and we can cook in the kitchen. We’ve ordered more dog fencing and the dogs are getting settled. I’m figuring out where to run, in hilly hilly Waconia. And we’ve even gone over to Sarah and Erik’s and gotten to see Leo.

View From the Deck

Our neighborhood is not a place I would ever have chosen, but its kind of fun to be living in a very different situation from what we are used to. We are in a little subdivision with cookie-cutter houses. The houses are not bad, they’re BIG and there are lots of families, dogs and children and not much privacy. People hang out together and children are playing all over the place. Cosmo is unnerved by all the dogs and stands at the door to the deck and barks and growls. I hope he gets used to it soon. He still has to wear his belly band, but hopefully in a week or so we’ll be able to take it off as long as we are home.

Poor Cossy!

We are figuring out where the grocery store, the hardware store, the drugstore, the post office are located. Today we tried out the huge dog park in Victoria. We paid the $45 annual fee and it will be well worth it so the dogs have a chance to run off leash. Its even bigger than the one in Florida. The dogs had a great time and I felt happy. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a little fenced area for them soon that isn’t sopping wet all the time. 

We Made the dogs a play area in the front, where its not so wet.

My office is organized. I can sit at my desk and watch the kids playing. Lee is working on my workout space in the basement. We’re getting there, making this place a home, at least for awhile.

Things with the house building are kind of stressful right now. Our contractor’s estimate is so very high…things are booming right now, thats part of the problem, and Minneapolis is just a very expensive place to build. Lee is working hard on getting the expenses down any way he can but its still way over our budget. So next week he’s going to go talk to a bank and we’re probably going to have a small mortgage after all. Its too bad but we really have no choice.

Then there’s the fun with the town of Shorewood. Lee has been in close contact with the town engineer since before we bought the property. Last week she mentions off hand, oh by the way, you have an undersized lot, you need a variance to build on it! We’re both flabbergasted and more than a little annoyed and alarmed. She’s reassured us that it won’t be a problem, and it better not be! It would have been nice if someone had said something when we were buying the property. So Lee has to go before the planning board and they don’t meet again until the first Tuesday in June. That’s the other thing. The way things are going we’re not going to get started until July. We could very well be here in Waconia for awhile!

Its going to be a nice place to build a house, eventually!

Monday, May 14, 2018

New Location, New Life

This was written two weeks ago on May 1st, right as we were moving into this house:

Yesterday was busy. The movers came, unloaded, were gone by 2 pm. Lee met them at the house at 8 am. I stayed behind, ran, took care of the dogs. I drove to Eden Prarie first to get some cash. Bank of America is not that prevalent in Minnesota, but we only need an atm occasionally so we’re going to stick with it. It’s such a hassle to change banks because of electronic bill pay.

When I get to the house we have to figure out a way to restrict the dogs since they are not yet familiar with the house and don't yet know what is Inside and what is OUT. I tie them up on the deck, but then Lee blocks off the stairs and they can be relatively free out there. But their people are inside so that’s where they want to be. Sad little faces stare into the house through the screen door. They can’t come inside until the movers finally locate the puppy pen. 

I get lunch for everyone at a cafe up in town. The sandwiches are very good. Afterwards I take the dogs for a long walk. Going through our subdivision I discover that there are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood, all with invisible fences. We have no intention of getting an electronic fence for a rental, so hopefully the association won’t mind us putting up some temporary fencing so the dogs can go potty without always having to go out on a leash. There is supposed to be a very good dog park in Victoria, a small town about 5 miles away so we’ll check that out too.

I find the access to the trail along the lake. I’m excited about this trail, I think it goes all around this huge lake, maybe 10 miles total. It will be a great place to do my long runs this summer. (I later find that it doesn't go all the way around but there are ways to do it anyway).

Then I start to tackle unpacking the kitchen. I make some progress, and a little bit of organization emerges from the chaos. I finally do a little laundry too. The rental came with a washer and dryer so ours are stored away. The laundry room is small but it is right next to the master bedroom so that’s great.

We are pretty tired by the end of the day. We go back to the RV, clean up a little and head to the nearby town of Chaska for dinner at an Indian restaurant. It’s in a strip mall, next to a Culver’s, and very good!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Moving to Minny

After the marathon, after goodbye bbqs and dinners, after tears and hugs and an achy heart, the day is finally here. Last Monday I ran the Boston Marathon in torrential rain and howling winds. My friends were at mile 19, then drove down to the finish line, met me at tbones after. These are really good friends. Only really good friends, nice relatives (Mark!), and husbands will do this sort of thing.

We are a bit of an odd group of friends. We range in age from early thirties to early seventies, and we met because we all have Diane, and because we have Diane, we all have Westies, and because we have Westies we have each other. 

But these aren’t the only people I will miss in New Hampshire. There are the ladies that belong to the Windham Newcomers Club, that I met when we first moved here from Texas and I was looking for friends and things to do. The club gave me people to explore with. We went to the city, we went to the shore, we went to the mountains. We went hiking, we went skiing, we went into the city and saw shows. We explored restaurants, and sometimes we just got together to chat, drink coffee, eat lunch, talk.

I will miss the people at the Food for the Hungry Food Pantry at Pleasant Street United Methodist Church. The dedicated volunteers that spend almost every Wednesday morning at the church, serving the clients, some of whom have come there for years, and come early so they can visit with their friend’s before the pantry opens. The pastor and congregation that have opened their church, their wallets and their hearts to the clients, even building a dedicated building for the Food Pantry several years ago.

Then there’s the Democrats that meet every Friday at a coffee shop in Salem, to try to elect progressive candidates to local positions. And there’s the people that meet to do yoga at Inge’s house around the corner a couple days a week. And there’s the ladies that have helped keep me pretty and also became my friends - Emily, Joanna, Janice.

We’ve really been packing for months, even before we went to Florida. Lee packed up the dining room. I went on a tear in the boxes of artifacts in the basement, throwing out all kinds of things, and organizing the last set of family pictures to be electronically scanned. When we returned from Florida is when things got real. Before the marathon I packed almost all the books, one set of dishes, all the nice glasses. Lee made crates and frames and packed all the mirrors and artwork. 

After the marathon we packed almost everything else. Only the food was left to pack right before the movers arrived.

One more run with Paula and Stephanie at Massebasic, my first since the marathon, and afterwards breakfast at Tucker’s. I got an enormous waffle with strawberries and whipped cream and an egg and bacon. I’m still eating like I’m carb loading for a marathon!

One more get together at Diane’s. It was a beautiful sunny day, the first real spring day in New Hampshire. The dogs had a wonderful time playing and rolling around. I was fine until I hugged Diane goodbye and then I lost it. You changed my life I whispered in her ear. I feel terrible about taking my dogs away from her, but at least she will get to see them in Florida.

On Monday Lee looked at the forecast and decided to see if the movers could come on Tuesday instead of Wednesday because there was rain in the forecast for Wednesday. They could, and as it turned out it was a good thing, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The movers had said they would come between 7:30 and 8:00 Tuesday morning. It takes two trucks to move us, one standard large moving van and a smaller truck that can make it up and down our driveway. The large van was late; his gps took him a way that was not passable for a truck that large. When he finally arrived it was just him and another girl. They started inventorying everything and before too long he realized that the salesman’s estimate was way off. When the smaller truck arrived and they started loading things they just did not have enough people. We had plans to meet friends for dinner. They were still loading things when we went to dinner, and they were still loading when we returned. They didn’t finish until almost 11 pm!

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday night in the RV in the driveway. The dogs love the RV but they found it pretty confusing to stay in the RV right next to the house. It wasn’t that bad on Tuesday, because we would still let them in the house, but on Wednesday when we start to clean they couldn’t come inside the house anymore, we would let them outside into the back yard and they would go to the back door to to be let in. Harper figured out quickly that the RV was the place to be. Heather was confused, but got the hang of it more or less. But poor Cosmo! He was completely befuddled and actually a little scared. I had to make him come to me and then pick him up and carry him to the RV. It’s not that he doesn’t like the RV, he was just overwhelmed by this change in his routine. I knew that as soon as we got on the road he would be fine.

Wednesday night we met Paula and Rich for dinner at the Common Man. It was relaxing and pleasant, with a few more tears shed when we said goodbye. This ending has been hard, and a little confusing. I’m so excited to be moving closer to family, to be building a house again, to be exploring a new place. But I’m so sad to leave New Hampshire too. If only I could somehow combine the two..

Thursday morning I went on a short run even though it was raining. I have a dread now of the rain, but of course it wasn’t that bad. Nothing will ever compare to Boston, at least in running in the rain territory!

Then it was time for the walkthrough, prior to the closing at 10:30 AM. I was a little nervous about this. We hadn’t met the buyers before this, and they had been so picky during the inspection.....but it was fine. At the end of the walk-through the man got his wife on the phone and we walked through the yard together, me showing them all the flowers and plants, telling them when they would bloom and some basic care information. I love my yard but I’m not sorry to let it go. It was getting to be an awful lot of work. I’m going to replicate some of it, but on a much much smaller scale. 

As we walked around the yard suddenly I saw something that filled me with dismay. “Lee, the movers didn’t take my teak bench!” Well there was nothing to be done. The new owners now own a teak bench with a lot of history behind it. This bench first made its appearance at our first home on Laurel Drive in Columbia. From there it moved to place with a wonderful view overlooking the land we bought on High Point Lane, even before we built our house there. Then it went to Texas, and stayed there when we lived in Hong Kong. And for the last 8 1/2 years it’s resided in New Hampshire. “I’ll buy you a new one,” promised Lee, but I still feel bad.

The closing went without incident. Afterwards we went for lunch at Maddie’s. Then back to the house and on the road. 

That first afternoon we only drove as far as CT. We weren’t driving more than 400 miles in a day since we had to drive both vehicles, Lee pulling the RV with the truck, me pulling the dinghy with the car. As it turned out driving the car by myself was fine. It was more stressful for Lee pulling the RV by himself.

The next day we stayed somewhere back into the wilds of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a surprisingly rural state. Once again we were in a remote area with little cellphone service and except for the rain a pretty place. It has been a little difficult to find campgrounds open this early in the season in the north. 

I go for a morning run, 3 times on a zig-zag route through the campground, for four miles total. When we take the dogs for a walk we try not to get them muddy. This day we drive 360 miles to a KOA in Elkhart Indiana, somewhere in Amish country. We can hear horses and buggys clip clopping as they go by on the road. I take the dogs on a long walk around the campground down to a fishing pond, on a little nature trail. Its cold this night so we have to turn off the water and bring the hose inside in the morning to thaw. 

On Sunday we drive through Indiana into Illinois and right through the middle of Chicago on I 90. There is Godawful traffic on a Sunday, I can’t imagine what this is like on a weekday! For the most part the roads are very good, wide and not too bumpy. Bumps throw things inside the RV into disarray, in spite of our best efforts to keep things stored safely. And for whatever reason some things are getting stress cracks and starting to leak, our Brita water jug and a bottle of gin (!).

Then we’re in Wisconsin, past Madison and up into the Dells. Indian casinos, indoor water parks, outlet malls, go kart tracks. But the KOA is very nice. Things are very quiet, with only a few other campers.

The next day is a short day but it feels long. We cross Wisconsin and enter Minnesota and soon we are skirting the Twin Cities and making our way to the southwest corner of the metro area, Jordan, MN where our KOA is located. While we’re getting settled the mover calls. They are showing up tomorrow morning! Wow, we didn’t really think they would get here so quickly.

We have business to attend to. First stop a store where we can buy dry ice, so the meat from the freezer with continue to stay frozen. Next to the lot; Lee wants to do some measuring of the location of the existing well. Next, the rental house. Lee has never seen it, and I’ve only seen it once. The house doesn’t seem as nice as before but it’s still pretty good. The back deck does I have steps to the backyard, but the back yard is pretty squishy from the melting snow, and because it’s downhill from a bunch of other backyards. The kitchen is adequate but cheap looking. There’s no good place to rinse off the dogs, and the carpet will make me nervous until I’m confident the dogs know it is INSIDE! Oh well. A year from now we’ll have a beautiful house that we built and life will start to become the new normal.


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