Thursday, November 17, 2005

Race report; Winterizing

I didn't set any land-speed records this weekend during my 5k, but I did do something new this race: I pushed and picked off people in front of me, one by one by one, throughout the whole thing. It was great fun to train my sights on someone in front of me and slowly gain on them and then finally kick right by them. The fact that I was able to push past people and not feel exhausted by the effort is testament to the long, slow training principle I've been practicing.

Of course, while I was enjoying my own victories as I passed each unsuspected person in front of me (take that, sucker!) the half-marathoners and marthoners sharing part of the course were busy lapping us. They were golden steeds, with their fast legs and slick bodies. The race marshals on bikes would come up behind us toiling 5k'ers shouting "move to the left! to the left! leaders approaching!" and we would all herd over only to bask in the reflected glow of the leaders as they dashed by on their rubber limbs, surrounded by a phalanx of more bikers protectively ushering them along.

Later, I scootered over to the turn-around point and ran a few miles with a friend doing the half -marathon. Here again, the race leaders of the marathon lapped us, already on the second loop of the course. I shouted out encouragement to the female leader as she passed, yelling her name, secretley pleased I recognzied her by sight as a local running phenom (I'm part of the club, yes I am! Let me in! Love me! Love me!). But I immediately regretted doing so, struck by guilt, convinved that my cheering -- coming as it did from an obvious, rank poseur -- might break her concentration and doom her race. Fortunately she ended up blasting the field as usual, easily winning the marathon. Watching these elite runners I was truly star-struck, and am certain that were I to have occasion to speak to one of them in person I'd be incoherent with nerves.

So, my time: 34:45.


Yesterday, winter arrived. Two days ago it was nearing 90 degrees and last night it neared freezing. I do not deal well with winter. I am ill-prepared and surly about it. I pout. We don't really have winter, just a series of cold snaps, but still, anything below 50 degress makes me whimper.

Here is the sum total of my winter wardrobe: one heavy sweater, one thin jacket, one pair of cordurouy pants, one pair of heavy socks, one pair of sweatpants and one pair of closed-toe (non-athletic) shoes. My reasoning for this meagerness has always been that there is no financial justification to spending money on clothes I'll wear less than three months out of the year. I'd simply rather freeze than spend money or face the grasping, overlit maw of the department store or Target. A clothing exchange program with someone in the Southern hemisphere would be the ideal solution. Anyone know a size 14 Peruvian woman? I'd pay for shipping.

So the dire situation of my winter wardrobe was icily brought home to me yesterday morning. I had the day off and had signed up with the Sierra Club to go hiking at a park a few hours outside of town. It was around 45 degrees, and due to some poor logistical planning, the scooter trip to the carpool meeting site took an hour. I'd borrowed a thin pair of gloves from my landlady, but was so miserable halfway through the trip from the strong, icy wind gusts that had me clutching the throttle that I had to stop at a Whatburger to run my hands under some warm water. Then while riding along the highway access road I drove over some water gushing from a broken water main at the precise moment a heavy-duty truck passed on my left, sending a cascade of water all over me.

At least the long hike was lovely.

So, winter action steps for 2005:

1) go to the thrift store and buy more warm clothes.
2) buy motorcycle gloves and face shield.
3) figure out how to best configure the gas heaters in my apartment so that the whole house is warm.

Here's the deal with the heating situation the last two winters in my apartment. I either lay immobile under a heap of blankets or sweltered in sauna-like conditions. This is in between obsessing about carbon monoxide poisoning or calculating my renter's insurance claim were the apartment to burst into flames. I grew up with central heat and air, so these gas heaters flummox me completely. They're the kind where you turn on the gas lever, light a match, insert it into the grate and WHOOSH!, flames appear. Here's a schematic:

As you can see, the back of the apartment has no heat. Should I move one heater into the dining room (though this would require the purchase of the proper connection and some sort of tool)? In winters past I've shut doors and just heated the front two rooms and eaten cereal for three months straight for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Is the appropriate method to open the gas lever full-throttle and blast the room with heat before turning it down to regulate the temperature? Should I use the ceiling fans somehow to circulate the air (and do I have to set them to rotate in the opposite direction of how they rotate now)? Why do I always see pictures of buildings in New York City, in the dead of winter, with windows cracked open? Is there some method to heating that involves ventilating with an open window? Do I leave the heaters on low while I'm gone all day?

All I know is that I've never been comfortable during the colder months and can only live in two rooms. I suppose any money I save buying warm clothes at the thrift store can be plowed back into my heating bill.

I know you Northerners scoff at my sob story, but I'm telling you, I cannot deal with the chill. Cannot. Deal.


Eight miles this weekend. When I think about this run, I get a mental image of myself in a boxing ring, bouncing on my toes, shaking out my arms from the shoulders, my body canted foward in anticipation and readiness. At the risk of sounding cliched, bring it on, baby, bring it on.


At 7:23 AM, Blogger neca said...

No advice on the heaters except the fans can help to circulate the heat, and yes, they need to rotate opposite of summer.

I hate cold weather myself, so I understand!

At 7:25 AM, Blogger chaos said...

How did the run go? Congrats on the 5K. I'm star-struck by marathoners too. Winterizing: this is a tough one. It doesn't seem practical to not heat the dining room because you have to go back and forth between the kitchen/bathroom and living/bed room. If you could shut the room up altogether, not heating it would make sense. You should keep heat on during the day if your apartment will get to freezing, if not, I wouldn't. Those heaters sound dangerous. But you also don't want your pipes to freeze. I think cracking windows in apartment buildings is the result of building controlled heat, though I'm not sure. Turning on the ceiling fans is a good idea. Do you have a CO2 monitor? How are your windows? Plastic and foam will help keep out the drafts. I wear a hat around the house when it gets super cold. Hot water bottles in bed at night keep toes toasty!

At 8:17 AM, Blogger BethK said...

I don't know what size you wear for a top, but I have some size L sweaters in my give away pile, and a really nice machine washable brown suede shirt. They are yours if you'd like them. Send me an e-mail at my S&P account if you're interested.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger faye said...

I truly hate being cold, so here are my secrets:
-I have a little space heater. It can go where I go, so that I'm not waisting too much energy by heating the whole house, but I can cuddle up to my little space heater.
-thermal socks, man.
-my kitchen is quite cold, so i do this really naughty thing sometimes by opening the oven door and turning the oven on 400--if it's really cold, I hit the gas burners, too. po' man's fireplace. obviously, best not to fall asleep in such circumstances.

At 9:40 PM, Anonymous tracy said...

CO2 monitor is a great idea - $30 and you can have that peace of mind. With gas heat, it's a necessity. I also recommend heating at night and turning it down about 2-4 degrees during the day when you're not there. More than that and you can burn a lot of $$ trying to RE-heat when you come home. But a couple degrees is ok. Also, at night, I like the cold. I have a down comforter. I just need a nice robe to get me through the shower/brush teeth routine and I'm all set.

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Kiran said...

Having lived in San Antonio for 10 years and now in Maine I can understand your dilemma.
Never, never heat with an oven or stove burners (sorry Faye). I have a close friend who lost a family member when he CO2 to death by oven and burner heat. Apparently his apartment lost heat in a storm and he tried to heat himself "the old fashioned way".
I would buy an oil filled portable radiator from Home Depot and place it in your kitchen. We have one here at the office and it works great.
ALso buy a CO2 detector, its a must!

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Tiffany said...

I hope your place isn't so cold that your fingers are too frozen to type!! Haha--I'm one to talk, aren't I.

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Mia Goddess said...

Happy new year, Megan! I hope you're doing well, I miss you...

At 3:00 PM, Blogger faye said...

kiran may have taught me a lesson! Sorry to share a life-threatening tip with you, Megan! I hope you are warm now!

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Warren said...

Doesn't the kitchen have a stove in it ?


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