Friday, December 12, 2008
Alex is a fellow student in my Outdoor Education Philosophy and Methods class at UNH. During the course of this semester, each student needed to have completed some kind of physical/endurance challenge and have written a 5 page paper about the experience. With just two days left in the semester, Alex had yet to complete his challenge and I offered to provide him with a running partner. Alex really wanted to find a half marathon in the area, and there are none, but I had a 13 mile loop we could run together and it would be just as well. So on Thursday we set out on Alex's first half marathon. Alex has yet to run anything further than 6 miles and his typical running is a 5K or two every two weeks.
As we started running it was eminent that Alex was surprised by my slow pace. We ran 8:30-9:00 min miles through the first 3 or 4 miles, and managed to hold the same pace for much of the run. Alex was one of those people who was certain he'd "never be able to keep up with me." I get that a lot... and it gets kind of annoying especially when all you want to do is run with people. Alex quickly settled into the run and lent me his ear. As we ran along the road adjacent to the Great Bay, along the route I ran regularly when I lived in Dover in 2006-2007; I couldn't help but get a little choked up about my current place in life.
As we closed in on Route 4, the Scammel Bridge comes into view and I make sure to point it out to Alex as our next destination. "Oh great! I know where that is! That's awesome!" his enthusiasm is contagious, but my mind still feels numb. We push on and I continue to tell Alex stories of my travels, my many adventures, trying to drag what level of enjoyment I can out of the memories. As we cross the bridge the winds pick up and the temperature continues to drop. The cold rain that had been falling is now turning to freezing rain and sleet, 6 miles down, 7 to go...
We got off of Route 4 and proceeded to run up the rural confines of Back River Road, past the first farms of this 1600's town, and into the more modern neighborhoods of today. We ran back into downtown Dover where I got the sense that Alex thought it was almost over. As freezing rain continued to fall, the sidewalks were getting slick and we were pressed to stay on the sides of the road. I informed him that we still had 3 miles to go, and I could hear the wind getting sucked from his sails. We turned onto side roads and used caution as our feet slid across the pavement. I looked down at my shirt and noticed a layer of ice was coating my outermost layer. Ice continued to accumulate on the roads and our run was turning into more of a "free skate" activity through town. I wrapped Alex around a few neighborhoods as his pace continued to slow. From 8:30's at the beginning of our run, Alex was now struggling to keep up at 13 minute miles. I was now walking through downtown Durham, doing what I could to encourage Alex to finish strong and as we rounded the final turn and pressed the final hill, he sprinted to the finish of his 13 mile run with a time of 2:06. Great job Alex!
After cleaning up and showering I returned to the Library at UNH where I hunkered down and finished up my 10 page paper on My Philosophy of Outdoor Education. A few hours of work into the project and the school loses power momentarily. A few breaks outside to talk on the phone gave me an opportunity to see how things were progressing outside. Ice was accumulating heavily on everything in sight as freezing rain continued to pour down. Inside the lights flickered often, indicative of the power lines crashing in the outside world. As 2 am rolled around, the library closed and I had finally finished my paper. I got in my car and started the treacherous drive home. As I drove down 108 from Durham to Dover, the sky lit up occasionally like it would during a summer thunderstorm. only it wasn't lightning, it was the bright flashes of transformers blowing and power lines being stripped to the ground.
Today, over 400,000 people are without power tonight. It's a bad time of the year to lose power given the season. Temperatures continue to drop and many homes rely on electricity for heat. Officials say that many areas will be without power until sometime in the middle of next week or even later. A lot of downed tree's need to be cleared before lines can be replaced. The Mount Washington Observatory saw temps plummet today, going from 38 degrees to 18 degrees in less than an hour. The wind is whipping outside, and New Hampshire's Bi-Polar weather continues to test our patience. Luckily, I'm in one of the only areas that continues to have power. I've watched movies and surfed the web plenty today. Good times!