Assumptions can get you into trouble, but then sometimes your assumptions are right on target - which can be just as disheartening.
Our neighbors, the folks on the other side of the duplex, let us know about a month ago that they had planned on moving soon to a place with more room. They were a friendly, quiet group - keeping to themselves mostly, but would make conversation when we were both outside. One day this past spring, after we had purchased some seedlings, they voluntarily moved those seedlings into our carport when a blustery storm rolled through suddenly while L & I were at work keeping our precious plants from their one-way ticket to the merry old land of Oz.
They were mostly indoor people and rarely used their backyard, which allowed us to us their portion for extended activities when we wanted. They were more than decent neighbors, so it would be hard to complain. Though, they had an odd schedule of random visitors. At any time, a vehicle would arrive and folks would make their way inside for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, then leave. If they were accompanied by someone, that person (or persons) would simply stay in the vehicle. Now & then those who arrived were alerted they need to come back at a later time for whatever reason. And these folks were never the same, it always folks who were new to us and the neighborhood
For awhile it we paid little attention, then it became more frequent with an even more mixed bag of random folks. We joked to ourselves as to what was going on, then L was approached by an employee of our landlord at her place of work.
He asks, "So, what do you think of your neighbors?"
"They are quiet and seem to be nice people", she says.
"Do they have a lot of visitors?", he says in a prompting tone.
"Yeah, they do. A random string of cars almost daily."
Shaking his head in agreement, "That's what I thought. We've had your neighbors mention it to us."
Since we had only witnessed the random arrivals and departures - as well as the handful of security lights they placed around the house - we just kept our thoughts to ourselves. On an off Friday for me during the last week of July, I was stretched out on our front room floor after a twelve mile morning run. I heard folks next door, but thought nothing of it. Then the sound of objects being moved about sparked by curiosity.
I get up to take a gander out the window where the sounds were coming from and I see a truck holding a giant safe with a digital lock that had been removed from their basement. I understand folks have safes and this one in particular could be one in which someone locks away their firearms, but I've witnessed too much goofiness happening next door to truly believe this is for anything of that nature.
I head outside moments later to play in our carport and I see our next door neighbor, Lisa, working in her yard. I stroll over and casually ask if she sees what is in the back of the truck. Her eyes light up, "I guess it could be a gun safe, but I've never seen them with anything. If that isn't it," as her eyebrows raise and lips begin to pucker, "I don't WANT to know what's in it."
This was also my thinking.
No one seems to be living there anymore, but someone does swing by every few days to pick up some of the things they left - a random assortment of appliances and non-essentials. Of course, we could be just feeding our wild imagination as to what was taking place over there and they were just popular folks who held home security in high regard. Though they aren't too worried about the security of the HelloFresh meal kit box delivered two days go that continues rest near their front door.
From the moment we moved in our other neighbors introduced themselves and we have become a small community family with no reason be vigilant about security as we tend to look out for one another. The only thing L and I would want to be more secure about is warding off those damn rabbits who have eaten just a many of our garden tomatoes as we have, leaving the half eaten portions still attached to the vines - like children sneaking cookies out of the jar but forgetting to replace the lid.
Sooner or later, one of those cute little produce bandits is going to slip up and L & I will enjoy some smoked hare while using the soft cuddly pelt to wipe the BBQ sauce off of our faces as it's horrified mammal family watches from the edge of the creepy woods in our backyard as punishment.
Anyway, having signed up for it several months ago because I thought it would be cool to return to where used to live - we made a weekend trip to Akron for the Goodyear Half Marathon & 10K. A part of the Akron Marathon Race Series, this event starts on Goodyear's Akron Proving Grounds before making it's way to the company's historic World Headquarters and campus.
I lived in Akron for about three years (2006-2009) while working in radio and have only driven through since then. We would revisit some of my old hangouts, see where I used to work & live, and hit up some of the many breweries that dot the area as well as run a race that navigates many of the areas I once covered as a radio news reporter.
What made the half marathon event challenging was it's course. Wanting to test myself on some less than level terrain, the race would have a slight decline and return to level ground for the first five miles. Then beginning with mile six we would have a yo-yo like up and down until the final two miles. For L, she had the benefit of running the 10k portion and miss the backend roller coaster ride.
With it being mid-August, we lucked out in having mild summer weather. It was bright and sunny, but a high of 60 at race time. The pink partly cloudy sunrise at the 6:30 start was quite refreshing. Having the half marathoners and 10k participants go at the same time meant forcing myself to not go with the faster crowd and be patient.
I think I did a pretty good job of this, using some of the 10k-ers to keep it up-tempo but not out of my realm. Cruising along with a small group, things are comfortable and with mile one at 6:08 I'm happy with my pacing. This mixed group of male & female 10k and half marathoners keeps bouncing in and around one another as we trail a much faster group that seems to be slowly separating.
This stress free pace feels really good and despite mile two being a bit slower (6:15), I'm still just as swift as I want to be. Our group, too, begins to thin out. The 10k folks drift ahead, but I keep them within striking distance and use them as my pacers. As we hit mile marker three (6:22) there is a reggae band jamming away, I point to them as I go by thanking them for their effort. The lead singer yells back - in mid song - "No, you the man!".
We are headed back toward where we started along the slight incline. I'm just behind about four or five, but I hear no one behind me and stick to my current pace with mile four at 6:26. At this time, I'm well aware each mile thus far has been a bit slower. Wanting to end that trend, a push just enough on the uphill to satisfied my mind. Sure enough, as mile five arrives I'm at 6:22 and the 10k & half marathoners reach their split. The small group I've been following becomes even smaller and larger uphill portion begins. I'm about 30 meters behind the nearest group, but I'm keeping pace - otherwise, I'm on an island.
Focusing on mechanics and methodically working the hill I see one of those just ahead is falling behind and I'm quickly gaining. Just beyond mile six (6:33), I pass him and his body language indicates he isn't doing to well. "We're halfway may, lets go!", I yell as I drift by hoping some encouragement would benefit him. "I know.", he replies and within seconds I can't hear him anymore. Now working a downhill, the group ahead is still about the same distance away and I'm using them to keep focus and pull me along the mile seven decline (6:18).
As promised the rolling residential hills are in full swing and as I work the elbows & knees mechanics, and in between the official water fueling stations, a few residents have set up their own race watching parties. They offer support as well as a cold shower of the garden hose variety for you to run through, which are greatly appreciated. Miles 8 & 9 (6:33, 6:36) sees the group ahead thinning out, some move further ahead but I'm slowly reeling in the trailer.
At this point, with each passing mile, I repeat to myself how much is left. A little personal motivation (Okay, just four miles to go; less than a 5k now, you got this) works through my mind as the mile 10 (6:24) decline is precursor to the winding uphill of mile 11 (6:44). The locomotive-like running motion is in full swing, but I still feel slow. From the onlooking residents I hear some encouragement, "At top of the hill you have less than 2 1/2 to go!"
Reaching the aforementioned summit, the course turns left and we have the full view of the Goodyear Headquarters Campus below. It is nearly all downhill to the finish and I let the momentum force the leg turnover while using my arms to keep upright. Quickly gaining, then finally passing, that figure I had been creeping up to for the last 15 minutes along mile 12 (6:18), I wondered if he is just playing possum in order to return the favor moments later.
My wrist vibrates from the buzzing of my watch indicating one mile to go and I'm working the arms & legs as the course flattens out a bit. Passing the remaining 10k-ers as the courses merge back together, I hear footsteps from behind. To my surprise, it isn't the gentleman I passed moments ago. It is another and he is on his horse, drifting by and increasing his lead with every step. Not sure where he had been the whole time I stick to my effort and reach the final stretch into Goodyear Headquarters and the race clock is in the 1:24 range - here I notice L hanging over the barrier on my right and yelling at me to push all the way through.
Cruising through and stopping my watch, I look around and see only race volunteers with finisher's medals. An official comes up to me and I ask, "Where is the water?"
"It's just ahead," she says and hands me a lanyard,"and congratulations! You finished third in the masters division!"
"No shit!", I say without thinking and with a wry smile, "Um..I mean, No way! That's awesome!"
She laughs at me, "Make your sure you stick around for the awards ceremony!" Turning to her race volunteers, "Get this man some water!"
Without sounding perturbed, just tired, I offer her my unsolicited opinion, "You need to have the water closer to the finish line." (It was a short walk beyond the finish)
"We will keep that in mind for next year, thank you," she says, sounding sincere and not like I was telling her how to run the race. It was an out of the ordinary cool race for mid-August, but if it were any other were we would have all melted by this time.
My watch says 1:24:39, my second best half marathon and 45 seconds from a PR - placing 17th out of 848. This is significant in the fact that it the elevation here was much higher than the PR, indicating - at least on this day - an improvement on pacing on a less than level course. Shortly thereafter, L finds me and we load up on post race food, including free Galley Boys from Swenson's. This is the best double cheeseburger you will ever have, just saying. Search it out if you ever find yourself in Northeast Ohio.
She tells me she finished with a two minute 10k PR, 51:05 - placing 143rd out of 1,335. Not bad for someone who started running less than a year ago. My age group award was an insulated drink holder/mug, which was pretty cool. Though, it didn't compete with the Goodyear Blimp ride and set of new tires the overall winners received.
Something else pretty cool took place at this event, 71-year old Grandmother Jeannie Rice of nearby Mentor, Ohio broke the 70-plus Women's World Half Marathon Record with a 1:37:07 - it took my first three half marathon tries to run that fast! She broke her age group world marathon record in Chicago last October and is hoping to continue breaking records starting with the Berlin Marathon next month. I'm just glad I beat her, she's a beast!
A couple of days afterward I found a selfie photo taken by Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan with the race crowd behind him and, yes, I'm there and it makes me laugh. Why? I was a radio news reporter in Akron about a decade ago and covered Akron City Council weekly. Mayor Horrigan, at that time, was a council member and I spoke with him countless times. And now, there we were in the same picture - but in different capacities - ten years later. I don't miss radio, but I do miss portions of Akron and the surrounding area - it exudes history.
So, L and I are less than two weeks away from officially completing The Wedding Summer (August 25th). With most of the prep work in place, it is now all about putting it into practice and producing an actual ceremony & reception without too many hiccups and speed bumps. I will be squeezing in the Blazin' 5 Miler: A Southeast Scorcher, a local race with some Columbus Running Company cohorts, the weekend before in hopes of breaking the 30 minute five mile barrier - but it is probably more of a way keep myself sane for a few days.
The Summer is winding down, but we are just getting started and are ready to take the plunge. Are there some butterflies about the deep waters ahead? Of course there are, but I think we have enough Chlorine to help oxidize those undesired contaminants....
Penelope Isles - Chlorine
You left your head out
I hope it clears
Your swollen ears
You laugh your head off
For all these years
And all those tears
You made it worse
Jump in with all your clothes
And break your nose
The depth, who knows?
Chlorine you itch my feet
You make me clean
Or so it seems
You make me smell a certain way