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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Corpse Flower

Perhaps I don’t post enough. I don’t seem to get very many comments on my blog. Maybe they just aren’t provocative enough to spur spontaneous commenting.

Anyway, I am stilling on my couch at 4:45am, since my wife is having a coughing fit in bed and waking me up. She would never consider leaving the room and letting me sleep in peace. It is something I would do in a heart beat should the situation be reversed. Oh well. Nothing I could do about it except stuff a sock down her throat or go downstairs, eat a bowl of cereal and complain about it on my blog. As you can tell, I chose the later option as the former would ultimately yield sub-optimal long term results.

While I got time to kill, since returning to sleep at this point is useless, I will recant my day from yesterday. It was perhaps the most perfect summer day that I can remember in many years. It started out at 7am with a run from Prospect Park to Coney Island with my friend Robert. The running felt easy and we easily cruised the six miles, down Ocean Parkway into Brighton Beach. The beach was still mostly empty and the water was clear and flat.

We entered the surf carrying all that we brought down with us. It was training for the upcoming SOS race. It felt kind of weird walking into the water fully dressed and still wearing my socks and sneakers. I thought I would try swimming with them on to see how it would feel. It felt like I was towing an anchor. By the time I reached the turnaround point on the swim, I had decided that I was better served by taking them off and stuffing them inside my shorts. I stroke felt better as soon as they were off, but I can’t say the swimming got easier.

That is because on the way back, the current was pushing with great force against me now. If I stopped swimming for just a second, I would be pushed back 3 - 5 feet. Robert went slightly further than I did and I could see him swimming towards me. I thought about waiting for him to catch up to me, but he is a much stronger swimmer and would do so without me staying still and losing ground.

The current was worse than a treadmill. On a treadmill, you can at least slow down the pace. Here I either had to swim faster than the current of get pushed out into the channel. When Rob caught up to me I expressed to him that I was afraid I would have to swim out of the water in order for me to make it back to the start. He told me to just stick with it as we were only swimming for 20 minutes up to this point.

A large while building served as a landmark up on shore. I couldn’t for the life of me get myself to move past it. Eventually I redoubled my efforts and started to make headway. I also headed slightly into shore to move away from the full brunt of the current and finally started making progress home. At one point though I had to head back out in order to make it around a large jetty. Here the current was really pushing and easing off just slightly caused you to lose ground. I started to dig in and suddenly saw Rob swim right up next to me. It took me about a minute to realize it was him, since just earlier he was quite ahead of me. We both swam hard and eventually made it around the jetty and then headed a little closer to shore. Rob said he must have been swimming too far out and had to take the full force of the current.

Anyway, staying closer to shore eventually allowed us to swim back to the start without too much more difficulty. As we exited the water I saw my coach heading onto the beach with several swimmers for an open water swim clinic he holds. We talked for a few minutes and then Rob and I left the beach for our run home. The running felt really good, surprisingly so, especially after the hour in the water. We pushed the pace all the way home and finished by running through Prospect Park. We made tentative plans to do this workout again before SOS on September 10.

I returned home around 10am, which was still early enough for me to make pancakes for the kids. I love when I am able to get back from my workouts before they eat breakfast for the ritual pancake preparation. We ate breakfast took showers and then soon headed to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on our bicycles to see the famous Corpse Flower that just bloomed.

Unfortunately, the smell from the flower was already dissipated. I think we were all disappointed that we didn’t get to sample the odor after all the hype and anticipation surrounding it. The flower was interesting enough to look at, which you only got to do after standing on a long line to walk it past it.

After the flower, we went to follow a stream that runs through the garden to determine its source. At one point we stopped by the stream and built a dam across it. This is something that my kids have come to love to do and I’d put their dam building talents up against any beaver. We were able to successfully block off the stream and cause it to begin overflowing up its banks. We would then knock the dam down to watch the backed up water go rushing down the stream. We did this several times until late in the day when a security guard chased us away saying that we weren’t allowed to do that. I guess the several other children we attracted to the dam to play with us drew the guard’s attention. No matter though as it was getting late and time for us to ride our bikes home for dinner.


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