Posted in Life

My half marathon stats

After training for almost 4 months, this morning I ran my first (and probably only) half marathon at the Lake Sammamish Half. My realistic goal was to get under two hours, with my “wishful goal” being under 1:45. I’m proud to say I ran it in a few seconds over 1:44, achieving both of my goals.

To train, I used Hal Higdon’s guide for novices, and I recommend it as a reasonable way to get prepared for a half. Unfortunately, I had been too busy to do the long runs on weekends for the past three weeks, so I was a little worried going into this half. This probably made the last few miles harder than they should have been.

Pacing myself for 13.1 miles

I stuck to a pace between 8:30 and 8:50 per mile in training, but I managed to hold just under 8:00 per mile for the real event. The first few miles are always a little rough, but once I warmed up around mile 5 or 6 autopilot kicked in and the miles just racked up.

Getting to 10 miles felt good, since that meant double digits. But after 11 miles, everything became infinitely harder. Mile 12 was almost all a zigzag through a park, and it was absolute torture to keep running back and forth next to people ahead of you. The last 2 miles or so felt like they took an eternity. I think the middle 60% of the distance went by the easiest.

Map of the half marathon

How far 13.1 miles really is didn’t kick in until the shuttle ride back from the finish to the start. The bus drove back on a lot of the running route, and the time it took the bus to get back really emphasized how far we had ran.

I just wanted to finish and get a time I was happy with, and I accomplished both these goals. I can say I’ve ran a half marathon in under 1:45 and had fun doing it, but it’s hard to say I would want to do it again.

Note that I started this post more than a week ago, but only finished writing it now.

A little more than two weeks ago, I discovered a rat living in my house, to my horror. I’m pleased to report that this nightmare has come to an end.

The exterminator came by a few days after I first discovered the rat’s presence to assess the situation and leave some traps out, baited with peanut butter but not primed. Since some of my own lesser quality traps had gone off without catching anything, he opined that the rat may have became “bait shy,” so the first priority was to retrain it in thinking the peanut butter was safe to go after.

A few days later, after some of the traps had been licked clean, the exterminator returned to put more peanut butter out and prime the traps. This whole time I had been keeping food and plants out of the rat’s reach (apparently rats can have a 36 inch vertical1, so this wasn’t that easy), and spent my nights sleeping with towels stuffed under my bedroom doors.

Then, it finally happened. Around two or three in the morning, a loud snapping sound woke me up, followed by the sound of something bulky and solid tumbling around in the room directly above me. It didn’t stop on its own, so I eventually went up to see what the commotion was. This is what I found:

Despite its neck being caught in the trap, it was still very much alive, squealing and struggling to break free. Not wanting to deal with this at three in the morning, I put a bucket over the trapped rat, then stacked some textbooks on top of the bucket, then put a suitcase on top of the textbooks. Somehow, I still wondered if it would get out.

I didn’t have time to deal with the situation in the morning, so fast forward to 16 hours later when I’m finally at home with some time to take care of the rat. I took the suitcase, textbooks, and bucket off and found the rat was still alive. Not just barely alive, but as alive as it was at 3 AM. In fact, I’m not sure if that above video was from that morning or evening.

I had already called the exterminator, and he came by to take the rat and remaining traps away. He looked around and concluded that was very likely the only rat in the house, so it appears my saga has finally come to an end.

I foresee much Clorox and paper towels in my immediate future.

  1. Terrifyingly enough, this is about the height of my dining table. 

Bananas after the rats

I woke up this morning, and my bananas looked like the picture above. I noticed the chunk missing of the apple below them the day before, but I didn’t think too much about it. I couldn’t figure out what happened. Did the fruit rot from the inside out? It couldn’t be insects — there’s no way insects could do that kind of damage.

Then I sent that picture to a few people and asked what they thought. One person replied with something that froze the blood in my veins: rats. Well, hopefully only one.

I searched for “bananas eaten by rats” and the first image that came up looked exactly like what I saw this morning. That settled it: I had rodents in my house. My first instinct was to burn the house down, collect insurance money, and move far, far away. But calmer thoughts prevailed.

My first step will be to check all the screens covering the doors and windows to see if there’s a hole somewhere, as well as to check the dry foods in my pantry. After that, I might have to pick some traps up or call in a professional.

More updates to come.

When you lose something dear to you, accepting the loss is always the hardest part. The wrenching feeling of it being ripped from your life leaves a hole that can’t be filled for a long time, if ever. The need to fill that hole leads to desperation, the frantic need to feel whole again.

But after a while, the desperation becomes muted and numbs the feeling of loss. The rational process takes over and tries to come up with a way to get that part back. Frustration and anger rise to the surface, because the plan doesn’t work or doesn’t seem to be working fast enough.

Finally, the loss becomes a normal feeling. It’s something that can be lived with every day, and put to the back of the mind. It’s this acceptance of loss that leads to closure. The wonderful feeling of leaving it all behind and letting yourself become whole again.

C’est la vie. It’s all about the journey.

Three years before his death, as told in an Esquire feature:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.