Friday, January 31, 2014

The Dusting of Chaos - My Alabama Ice Adventure

“Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting.”
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Demon in My View

I dunno. Most times I sit down and think, “hey I should write something in my blog,” or, “hey, I DO want to write something in my blog,” but many times I sit down to write and I just either don’t really feel like it or that great idea I had while running is gone outta my head. I like to have something interesting to write about instead of just saying, uh yeah, I’m running some, and uh, doing stuff, and oh yeah it’s cold. But sometimes, a topic just falls in your lap without searching too much for it...for instance.

You know, we've had a pretty eventful week here in the deep south. It sounds hilarious to my friends in the frozen north that we got SLAMMED with 2 inches of snow and it literally paralyzed the city. It wasn't the snow, but the daggum ice. First of all, we weren't supposed to get anything but maybe a light dusting of snow on Tuesday, which of course everyone was excited about. Well, the light dusting turned into the Dusting of Chaos. The prediction was that the storm would hit the southern half of the state, but the "Line of Confidence" from the Meteorologists shifted about 90 miles north and BOOM! Birmingham has about a million in the Metro area and most of them live south, over the mountain(s). When it became apparent this was for real, EVERY business, and EVERY school got out at the same time. Four Gazillion cars on icy roads is a problem...a BIG problem. You know what, you can have a 4-wheel drive, or an 8-wheel drive, and you still ain't gonna get up a hill of ice. And once you stop on a hill, it's curtains for you and the 999 cars behind you. That's it, GAME OVER! Absolutely SOLID vehicular gridlock! 

I got 3 blocks from work (on level streets),  and said "Holy Crap! This is not fun at all and I'm either gonna get creamed, stuck, blocked, or run out of gas, but I sure as heck am not gonna get home". So, 3 blocks into my odyssey, I turned around and made it back to work (sorta like DNF'ing a 50 mile run at 400 yards!). 

I spent a fitful Tuesday night in my Physical Therapy gym...I read everything on the Internet TWICE, followed Twitter, followed Facebook, did all my work paperwork, and then tried to sleep. Little did I know you can't turn off all the lights in the gym. Now, why would that be, other than to keep awake anybody who would be trying sleep! Of course, we were closed the next day and I feared that I was doomed to spend another night there as the roads were not only still frozen with ice, but still blocked by the millions upon millions of abandoned cars. I'm a big fan of hyperbole, but I'm not sure this is such a huge exaggeration.  Anyway, late Wednesday, I snaked my way back home, going 20 miles out of my way to avoid the frozen mountains. It was smooth sailing, except for the characters on the dry Interstate driving 25 MPH with their flashers on, nearly causing numerous accidents with guys like me. "Look Mable, I think I see some BLACK ICE up ahead about a mile!". Good God, there's no ice here folks. Drive normal!! Anyway, as I said, smooth sailing until I got within 2 miles of home and hit the side streets. Holy Cow! What in the world were people doing the day/night before? Driving like the good guy in those Apocalypse movies where he somehow manages to weave between dozens of cars to save the damsel in distress? Only they didn't weave so in the ditch, cars parked in the middle of the road, cars sideways on the shoulders. It looked like a scene on the Evening News from Syria.

On Thursday, surprisingly to me, work, and Schools, and most businesses, were cancelled. By mid-afternoon, I had to get out of the house for at least a short run. That was mostly a mistake. I say mostly because it did serve it's main purpose to get me out of the house. You really can't sustain a good pace when every 50 feet or so you have to prance over the ice like a ballerina from the Nutcracker. Also, apparently in Birmingham, and the surrounding normally sane towns, it is against the law to build sidewalks, so everytime a car would come barreling down the icy road towards me, I would have to jump into the adjacent icy/snowy/semi-muddy lawns. Hey, I just counted it as a trail run without the beauty. It was quite comical watching the drivers trying to navigate the roads, sliding on ice without brakes, then slamming on their brakes on perfectly dry pavement. Only got honked at once...some blue-haired woman in a Caddy honked at me from about 50 feet away. When she passed, I got a real stern stare AS SHE TALKED ON HER PHONE!! I laughed to myself thinking that at every red light she came to, she was telling her phone friend "Oh dear, nothing but gridlock. Oh, the humanity". Then the light would change and gridlock was averted and humanity went on it's merry business. I made it home with no falls, rolled ankles, or pulled hamstrings, so all-in-all, a good run.

And now, it's Friday, that feels like it's Monday, it's 60 degrees outside, and The Great Dusting of '14 is over. Quite a week. I wonder what great subject will fall in my lap for Running With Al next week. Come back and find out. It'll be a surprise to me too!

I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too many. One child saved can change the world"

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