Like the Weather

Runners plan. God laughs.

Times I listened to the 10,000 Maniacs live version of “Like the Weather” to get in the mood for this post: 5

Layers I sometimes wear when running in the winter: 4

Layers I wear when running in the summer: 1/2

[First of all, isn’t this an awesome picture? My uber-scientist/manager/DIY extraordinaire husband is looking to illustrate life, if there are any jobs available out there. Then we could move to The Islands, mon, and I could run in more predictable (hot!) weather.]

The way I view weather is the same way I feel about most other things: it should work properly. You may be surprised to note that it doesn’t.

We live in a climate that has a distinct spring, summer, fall and winter. Problem is, the seasons themselves are moody.

I have been to four college graduations in May at my nearby alma mater, and they varied between me sweating in shorts and a tank top with graduation robes on top to me in a dress and light sweater sitting on bleachers wishing I had a fur coat and balaclava.

The first week in December has been, alternately, 80 degrees when my husband’s mom and sister came to visit from England one year (they sat out on the deck and tried to soak up all available rays of sun) and calamitous ice storms another year (I was in the hospital giving birth to our daughter and trying to stay warm while the generators fed electricity to those on life support).

Our winters are not the sort that my bloggy friends describe in eastern Europe or Canada where runners are forced inside to the dreadmill. Here, we don’t get feet of snow or sheets of ice on a regular basis. The streets and sidewalks are open and fuctional, and we are not allowed to whine (much) when faced with what could be.

The other day, my running partner and I watched the same weather forecast the rest of the city watched: the one that said showers should start around noon. As I drove my son to his orthodontist appointment at 8:15, it started pouring. And it didn’t stop. At 9:30, I checked the 40-degree temperature and pelting conditions and considered my running attire: capri pants? No. Leggings? Yes. Short-sleeved shirt chosen when the sun was out? No. Windbreaker/hopeful rain slicker? Yes. Beanie hat? Sure. Sunglasses? No point.

Even though the weather guy had been wrong, the rain at least remained consistent. And it turned out to be a pretty good run. For a Monday.

Back in January, we headed out for an epic 11-miler that had all the markings of a gorgeous spring day: bright sunshine, warmer temps and all the bulb flowers poking their heads out of the ground. We headed out as innocent as little Easter bunnies, smiling at God’s benevolence.

A couple of miles in, a breeze kicked up. An unexpected breeze. We had not planned for that breeze.

And then, the optimistic skies were replaced with fat gray clouds that seemed to hover over our (admittedly uninspired) route.

Then, rain.

Chewing my ShotBloks was like gumming wet jellybeans.

The rain was not a gentle mist, but pelting, thick drops that fell behind our sunglasses and saturated our now-squelchy shoes. When I got home, I had half a mind to throw some laundry detergent on my running tights and toss them out in the front yard. The washing machine couldn’t get them any wetter.

And don’t even get me started on early morning spring runs, when the air chills as you step outside, so you bundle up in warm layers, only to strip them off at the end of mile one.

Is weather truly the last frontier? The one thing we can’t control with apps and calendars and well-stocked handbags?

I, for one, will probably keep trying.

But after all we’ve been through, weather and I are like this. So close.

I guess you could say I’m grateful that after hours spent in climate-controlled conditions in front of a computer screen, real life and unexpected weather conditions continue to surprise me.



Of Steve Jobs and ShotBloks

Pages read in Steve Jobs biography: 250

People interviewed for work this week: 5

ShotBloks consumed while running or otherwise: 0

I’m reading the Steve Jobs biography and have been inspired to add two things to my Christmas list for next year: a reality distortion field and minions. Reading about someone so powerful and creative who was able to bend others to his will has gotten me thinking that in order to write productively, I need to fabricate both helpers and an optimistic, unrealistic view of deadlines to push me to do my best. Here is my new office protocol:

“Self, I need this novel written in five months.”

“Not gonna happen. It’s impossible.”

Fix self with cold, unblinking stare, charm and charisma.

“OK. Maybe I can do it in six, but I’ll need some help and a budget for extra provisions.”

More staring.

“Yes, Ms. Woodman, ma’am. I’m on it.”

And then, my minion self starts thinking about what provisions could possibly be helpful… something both legal and mind-stimulating. Jobs used LSD. I could use… ShotBloks?

ShotBloks and I have an intimate history. My eyes get somewhat misty when I think what we’ve been through together. I’m not sure why my BFF/running partner looks at me funny when I mention them.

I had never used substances to aid my running before last year… maybe I once tried a GU at a race, but a half-marathon doesn’t really require additional fueling. Me + a marathon? Fueling was a must. I picked up some gummi bear-like things at the local running store: a tube of goodness in the form of ShotBloks. Black Cherry. Equal to one shot of espresso.

I set a plan: run the 16-miler, then meet up with my hubby for a large, fattening lunch of lobster ravioli, including 10-days worth of fat and calories. Yum. Mid-run, I absent-mindedly chewed up the whole strip of ShotBloks. And let me tell you–that was the best second half of a run EVER. I was on fire! I tried to get my running partner to turn it into a 26-miler, but she made up some lame excuse about having to pick her kids up from school or something. Killjoy.

When I went to meet my husband, the conversation went like this:

Him: Hey, how’d it go?

Me: OMG. You-would-not-believe-it! This-squirrel?-Itjumpedoutinfrontofusonthetrail…andwescreamedanditwassofunny!Iwishyouhadbeenthere.Theskywassoblue.OMG.

Him: Are you OK? (touching my forehead)

Me: (nervous laughter) Heeeheehee. Idon’tknowwhatyou’retalkingabout!?Imean,IguessI’mjustjazzedfromthatawesomerun!

Him: Ooookaayyy.

Me: Oh. I-did-try-this-new-fueling-thingy, ShotBloks? They’re-so-amazing. They-taste-good, too, like, much-better-than-gummi-bears-ever-did.

Him: Ohhhhhh. I get it now.

See? That’s the kind of thing that my mind needs to go into super-speedy creativity mode. Santa, please bring me creativity minions, a reality distortion field and ShotBloks for a marathon writing session. Stat.