Sunday, October 15, 2017

Here Comes Santa... uh... what are you? Creepy Crawl 5k Race Recap

I signed up for this on a whim, because no other October race looked good. This one encouraged costumes and came with bling. What the heck!

It was in an area north of Jacksonville called Nocatee. Not being familiar with this area, I googled it. Wow, fancy.

I guess the race are was Davis Park
Aerial View of the water park
It took a little longer than usual to get there, since it's further away from most races I do, but I got there with time enough to get a really close spot. I was even able to pop into the Publix around the corner and use a real potty.

Davis Park past those trees
I found a nice spot in the back corner of the shopping center, across from the field where the race stuff was. There was another group of racers there in full-on pirate garb, putting me to shame! After I took a photo for them, they took one of me. I decided to reuse my ladybug costume from the Evergreen Cemetery race. I also reused my red pom-poms, and threw on some black knee socks (since it wasn't deathly hot). A month or so ago, I found a cute headband that had boppers, which I deconstructed and sewed onto a red visor. It didn't work very well.

My boppers look really stupid
I walked around the pre-race area for a bit, until we were instructed to go to the start line, which was like 1/2 mile away!

Lots of little kids and families - this is a tight community
When I got there, I took my typical Footsie and saw that I'd lost one of my pompoms! I was sad. I'd definitely gotten my $3 worth out of these things, but losing on is different than actively deciding to throw them away.

RIP, Pom Pom! You served me well
So, we all stood around, waiting for the stragglers to get there, and then listened to the race director give directions (they were bad directions, and seeing that there was never a course map put out, I had no idea where I was going!)

"So yer gonna go this way for a bit, then run past some trees, then go by the water..."
At one point, an older gentleman in front of me put something on top of the electrical transformer on the side of the road - it was my pompom!!!  I went and grabbed it, and he told me his granddaughter found it on the walk between the field and the start line. I thanked both of them and put it back on, then took a proper Footsie.

Welcome back, pom pom! I missed you!
We were set off with no fanfare other than an air horn, and because there were so few runners, I was pretty much alone in the back pretty quickly.

We ran towards Nocatee's water park. Yes, this community has it's own water park. They also have a beautiful trail system, which was what the majority of the race was on.

Entrance to the water park
Mile 1 on a lovely multi-use trail
When we exited the trail system close to Mile 2, we were on their wide expanse of sidewalks. At one point a huge group of bikers (as in 10-speed, not Harleys) came by, looking like a Del Webb commercial.

Mile 2 up there, behind 3 kids faster than me!
The final bit of the race was up this two-lane road, that had parking up each side. The road was open to traffic, but luckily, it wasn't busy.

Mile 3
Finally, the finish line!

Oh look, there's hardly anyone there!
When I crossed the finish line, there was an announcer, well, announcing who was coming through, and since I was in a costume, he announced that I was... Santa?  LOL. He said, "Here comes Lazy, dressed like Santa! Santa? Uh... <mutter mutter> I don't know what she is but here she comes!" I shouted over to him that I was a ladybug and he felt pretty stupid!

My official time was 53:47 (17:21 pace). I beat 11 total people, coming in 59th out of 70 total runners (it was a very small race). I was 7th out of 8 runners in F40-49 age group.

I looked around and couldn't see where to get my medal, so I continued down to the pre/post race area; maybe they're down there?

I saw a bunch of medals, over on a table. I didn't know if I was supposed to grab one or not, so I left them alone and grabbed goodies from the vendor tables.

There was a fun costume parade where anyone who was dressed up could walk around and show off their costumes, and then there was a costume contest. I only have a photo of Prospector Pete, but the entire family was dressed as Toy Story characters. They were also the "face" of the charity this race was for, so it was kind of a given that they would win. He was cute as hell though!

Shout out to the little brat in the Cat Head - he thought he was the coolest guy there
All the kids were given medals, and when no one else got medals, I asked if I could have one, since I felt like a kid. She gave me one, but kind of gave me this look like, "Yeah, okay, I'll do it... but you shouldn't really get one..." which was really frustrating - the website of the race promised a Custom Event Finisher Medal. No qualifications that they were only for kids, or for the first however many finishers, or whatever. Registration included a medal. I wanted my medal. She made me feel crappy for asking for a medal. Uncool.

5k Registration includes MEDALS - give me my medal!
I went back to the Publix and changed clothes, then headed to check out St. John's Town Center, since I was on that side of Jacksonville. SJTC was built by the construction company I used to work for (Scherer Construction), at least 10 years ago, but I'd never been there. It started out as an open-concept mall, where it was tighter than a shopping center, but not enclosed like a mall. Over the years, it's grown exponentially!My first stop was, as usual, Chick-fil-A. It was outrageously busy! Next, I kind of just drove around to check out what was there. A lot of high-end stores.

Unfortunately, my body said I needed to potty, so I parked in front of Nordstrom and headed in (looking like the sloppy post-5k-runner that I always do). I got looks from probably 10 different employees as I wandered around. I checked out a directory which told me two things: 1) Bathrooms were on the second floor and 2) There was no Fat Lady section. Who's surprised? The bathrooms (again, who's surprised) were really nice, with actual water closets with doors instead of stalls with janky doors.

Once I wandered around a bit, looking at clothes and giggling internally about the styles and the prices, I went out a side door to an outdoor section of the mall. I scored a large size Scar stuffed animal from the Disney Store for the kiddo. I don't think I went in to any other stores. I returned back to my car, and made my way to another section of SJTC. I checked out Dress Barn (which used to be affordable, but now carries some really shit clothes!) and Famous Footwear (no good shoes and no good sales, boo).

Bored, I decided to hit the road. I grabbed a drink from WaWa and headed home.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rock You Like a Hurricane

In 2004, there was a hell of a hurricane season in Florida, and one of those hurricanes - Hurricane Frances - did a number on my yard and my psyche. A noise we thought was a tornado turned out to be the roots of my neighbor's huge double-bore Live Oak tree being ripped out of the ground. It fell parallel to my house, missing my roof by about 2 inches. The canopy fell in my other neighbor's yard! If that tree had fallen perpendicular or at any angle other than how it landed, my house would have been demolished. We were without power for almost 6 days (and let me tell ya, no AC in Florida in September is HELL!) and we lost almost $1000 worth of food from the fridge and freezers.

Because of this, I am always on edge during Hurricane Season, and even more so when I know there is even the possibility of a storm coming my way. On August 28th, there was a storm forming in the Atlantic, right behind Hurricane Harvey. Luckily - for Florida - Hurricane Harvey headed to Texas and made landfall on August 29th (12 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, which is kind of spooky). I spent the week before Labor Day glued to The Weather Channel watching updates and praying for all the residents of Houston having to go through this ordeal.

August 28 Prediction - so far so good
The day after Harvey made landfall, the storm out in the Atlantic got her name - Irma. At the time, she didn't look all that threatening. I was keeping an eye on her though, because I had a 5k on Labor Day, and then a vacation at Disney right after.

August 30 Prediction - Yes, go south!
September 1 Prediction - Uh oh, it's moving north
September 3 Prediction - A hit in South Florida means very little storms for me
Luckily, on September 4th, there were no issues with the race - it didn't even rain. When I got home that afternoon and checked the most recent advisory, it looked like it was going to keep going West and run over Puerto Rico, mostly avoiding Florida. So we went to Disney!
September 4 Prediction - this could be great! Die over Cuba!
Because Hubby cannot stay off of Twitter when we're at Disney, he was keeping a track of all the NOAA announcements and showing them to us over the course of Tuesday, and I was getting slightly antsier every time he showed me a new one. By this time, Irma was a Category 4 storm, but I was still feeling okay, knowing it wasn't going to impact our area of Florida.

The next morning, at Trail's End, they thankfully had the TVs on and tuned to The Weather Channel, and there it was... Irma was now a Category 5. And even worse, the 8am advisory showed that it had made a huge turn overnight and was now going to make landfall and drive right up through the center of the state.

(Such a great show!)
September 6 Prediction - going straight up the state now
We left Disney around 1pm and it took us over 4 hours to get home, thanks to the evacuation of South Florida. At the time, we had no idea why the Turnpike, and subsequently, Interstate 75, were so backed up. It was a Wednesday afternoon!

Dude, what's up with this traffic?
It's a very long traffic jam
We spent an hour in traffic trying to guess where "the accident" was, but we never saw one. Then we began to wonder if it was because of the storm?

Where are THOSE two vehicles going?
Ah, that's where they're going...

We began to realize it had to be the storm because - as you can see in the photo - no one was going south! You never see no traffic on the other side!

We went 10mph for another hour until I finally decided to detour through Ocala.

All those cars in the middle of the screen are in line for gas
Traffic was backed up here, at the exit ramp, because there is a BP station right around the corner, and there were a LOT of cars stopping to fill up.

Gas lines
At least they were courteous enough to pull over as much as possible as to not impede traffic too much!

We bypassed all this and headed home via US-441.

So much better! (If I ever have to evacuate, I may just go up 441!)
All day Thursday, I was fretting about this impending storm. It looked like it was going to miss the tip of Florida and pound the east coast of the state with its western side (the worse side).

September 7 Prediction - Worse for us!
I went into full Hurricane Prep Mode. Filled up all of our empty water bottles and stashed them in the freezer. Put the ice maker on overdrive, filling bag after bag with ice, as well as using my old-school ice cube trays for ice. I got every single flashlight in the house (we have small LED flashlights in every room) and stashed them in my Kid's Meal Sand Bucket from Restaurantosaurus (see, I told ya I'd use it again!).

I also made a quick trip over to my regular Publix to pick up my birthday cake and emergency toilet paper (in 2004, we ran out of toilet paper, so whenever a storm comes in, I buy more toilet paper!) Because, hurricanes should always have cake, right?

My cake says "You're 40. That's Old."
I love the Publix bakery!
On Friday,  however, the track changed - again - and now it looked like it was going to chug right up the peninsula to us (we live at the 8am Monday "M" on the map below).
September 8 Prediction - Still pretty bad!
After I took Hubby to work, I went over to the City Public Works department to pick up sandbags. Unlike the County - where you had to bag them yourself - the City would give you 10 pre-filled bags. All I needed was proof of residency.

I got in line, around the corner, at 9:35am
Whoa, that's a lot of people
There is a crew member answering questions at the entrance
Further down, they are checking licenses and proofs of residency
Many people used the time in line to clean up their trunk or cargo spaces
BRAVO to these guys for busting their asses for their community!
I *VASTLY* underestimated the size of the compound! It took 2 hours to go along the red line!
My levels of Freak Out kicked into high gear and I began wondering if we should try to evacuate? I thought about going up to Tallahassee - even though it was in the cone too. I also even thought about going over to Dothan, Alabama! It was mostly out of the track, and I felt that the storm would have pounded itself out by the time it got up there. Mostly, I just thought about going somewhere I could afford a hotel room for 2 nights that would accept pets, was away from I-75 and was within a 6 hour drive.

On Saturday, I looked at hotels and was surprised-but-not-surprised to see that hotels within 6-8 hours of us were all booked (at least the inexpensive and pet-friendly ones). I was feeling very stressed and anxious, like I was doomed, but Hubby kind of talked me down. We looked at the track again and were relieved to see it had moved west a bit. He didn't think we needed to evacuate (he's got a weird sixth-sense about stuff, so I trusted him... even though I was still stressed).

September 9 Prediction -  - It's a little more to the West now
I was glued to The Weather Channel, anxiously waiting for each update.

The view from Mom's Balcony - Saturday at 8pm
I was also glued to my computer and my phone, worrying about my family on the Gulf Coast. Aunt lives in a mobile home, but she was heading to be with her family in Brooksville, in central Florida. Mom said originally, she was planning on staying in her apartment complex near Tarpon Springs; they would allow residents to remain until wind speeds reached about 40mph. I kept telling her that she needed to come north to us. We have a strong concrete block house, and aren't a mile from a beach. She thanked us for the offer, but kept declining. Later in the day, when it began to look like some serious shit was gonna come her way, she decided to join Aunt  in Brooksville tomorrow.

Around dinner time, it started sprinkling.

Sunday morning, we woke up to yet another shift - now it was on track to come up the Gulf side of Florida. Because of this, Mom left even earlier for Brooksville. My brother and his family, who are over near Daytona Beach, decided to ride it out at home. They live within blocks of the beach. I was very worried about them!

The view from Mom's Balcony - Sunday at 7:45a.m.
September 10 Prediction - Keep moving west! Keep moving west!!!
As for us? Hubby and his sixth sense said we should also hunker down and ride it out at home. So we did.

Mid afternoon, I peeled myself away from the computer and got some treadmill time in, then cooked up some dinner. And ate birthday cake in bed (yeah, remember, this is my super-awesome 40th birthday month!)

I fell asleep watching The Weather Channel. Hubby came to bed around 10pm, but he was too wound up about various Tornado Warnings to actually sleep. (I stress about hurricanes in general, he stresses about tornadoes). We ended up turning the TV back on around midnight (it was getting really windy out there!) and Hubby was getting in and out of bed for over an hour, checking on the house, checking on the kiddo, checking on the cat. I watched until after 1am, then left it on for Hubby, but covered my eyes with a towel to block out most of the light. I think he turned it off around 2am.

At some point, the power went out. Then came right back on. Then went right back off. Then right back on. Then it stayed on, with no more issues. I finally got some sleep around 3 or 4 a.m.

When Hubby got out of bed Monday morning around 6am, we found the master bathroom and hallway flooded - even with the sandbags we put against the house, our foundation still leaked. He put down a bunch of towels to soak it up while I "slept in" until 8:30am.

The power was still on, but the cable box had some error code, and there was no WiFi in the house. I heaved my tired ass out of bed, pulled up the towels, spun them in the washer then threw them in the dryer. (I saw no sense in actually washing them, if I was going to rotate them out to soak up more water). I also put down new towels to soak up the rest of the water (plus any additional water that may come our way soon).

After doing that, Hubby confirmed that we had no WiFi, cable or telephone services (we have internet phone from our cable provider). At 9:30a.m. the power went out. I got the towels out of the dryer (luckily most of them were dry by then) and opened the windows, then spent some lovely time on the couch with a book.

A few hours later, I finally opened the door to check any damage outside; there wasn't much. The storm had passed, so I pulled out the porch chairs and set them back up - I was planning on camping out there when it got too hot to be inside the house.

Smart Hurricane Tip - Park as close to the house as possible, in case of falling branches
We all hung out in the living room for a good portion of the morning, just chatting and bullshitting. Hubby wanted to go out for lunch, but I said no; I didn't know how long we were going to be without power, and I wanted to save up any money we may need, if the power stayed off for a few days (in 2004, we were without power for almost a week; we ate out a lot.) He ended up taking a nap a few hours later, partly because he was so bored, mostly because he hadn't slept well the night before. I cracked open my book again and enjoyed some peace and quiet.

Power came back around 3:30. We actually turned the AC off and left the windows open because it was really pretty outside (post-hurricane weather is usually some of the prettiest weather in Florida). I turned on data on my phone so I could check out Twitter and see what was going on. I also checked the status of the food in the fridge and freezers. I didn't see any thawing, so I had an ice cream sandwich to celebrate!

Around 6, we were all hungry, so we decided to get some dinner. On our side of town, only Domino's and Wing Stop were open. We went over to Newberry Road - nothing was open there. Over on Archer Road, a few miles away, only Costa Vida and KFC were open, and the KFC had lines out the door and around the corner! I'd say 90% of those in line were college kids. On our way back to the house, we swung by the Circle K to see if we could pick up some junk food, and man! They were closed too! (Of course, looking back now, how stupid were we, thinking that anything would be open!) We ended up just doing our own thing at home. I think I had a sandwich. Cox was still down at bedtime, so no internet, cable or phone service.

Flooding near 34th Street and University Avenue
Local creek flooding its banks
Tree damage at the college
On Tuesday, County offices were closed, so I was off today. There was still no Cox. I got some housework done until around 10, and then we all geared up and headed outside to do some clean up. There was a large sapling that was bent over that we cut down. Up on the roof we got a lot of cleaned up.

We had to clean up a lot over here

Cleaning up overhanging branches at the back of the house
While we were up there, we saw a large branch that had broken away from a tree, but was bound up in some vines, so it couldn't fall down. Back on the ground, Hubby had the bright idea of slinging an extension cord over it and trying to pull it down. Rather than just fall down, it came swinging at him like that scene from Star Wars where the Ewoks launch a tree trunk at the AT-ST Walkers.

Yeah... The broken, jagged, edge of this tree branch swung right into his left bicep. Hard. But... if he hadn't broken the swing with his bicep, it would have swung right into the bathroom window and caused some serious damage, so good job, sweetie!

The damage to his arm from September 12 through September 25 (some days were skipped)
While Hubby took a well needed rest, the Kiddo and I cut down some more stuff before we were ready to die.  We all sat around trying to figure out what we wanted for lunch - and who had WiFi. The Kiddo wanted Arby's, so we headed there. Arby's has no WiFi. I joked that we should go get milkshakes for dessert, to which both of them went, "Fuck yeah, milkshakes!" so we hopped across the street to Steak 'n' Shake. Bonus - it was happy hour by then, so our milkshakes were 50% off. And they have WiFi!

Always get your shake for Dine-In - it's bigger!
We sucked on our milkshakes (and sucked up the WiFi) for about an hour before returning home and returning to the yard work. Which was where I quickly realized the huge error we just made - who does yard work in Florida in summer with a belly full of roast beef and milkshakes?!?

I powered through and we got a lot done, and dragged a bunch of fallen limbs (and "fallen because we chopped 'em down" limbs) to the curb for the waste guys to pick up over the next few days.

I decided at 7pm that my ass was going to bed! I gave no fucks that it was still light outside - my back was KILLING me and I was exhausted! I Twittered for a while, popped over to Facebook, where I saw a post from a co-worker, wondering if we were supposed to come in to work tomorrow? Uh, I thought we did... I sent a text to my boss, who didn't text back until almost 10pm, that, yes, we had to go to work tomorrow. Bummer...

So on Wednesday, I crawled into a hot shower, then checked the TV. Still no Cox. When I got to work, there were a lot of employees talking about their terrible Emergency Shelter experiences (as a County employee we are required to assist during emergencies; I was listed as a Needed Personnel - if the department I worked for was open for business, I would have to come to work; if I was a Non-Essential Personnel, I would be given an assignment, such as working at a shelter).

Luckily, our boss was very understanding, and many of us were on the internet a lot, checking on family members, reading about damage, etc. At some point in the afternoon it was announced that both the Santa Fe River and the Suwanee River were flooding, and a few shelters would be remaining open.

After work, I got a well-needed massage, noshed on some tasty local pizza and avoided my ringing phone. Someone kept calling me repeatedly for like 2 hours. I didn't recognize the number, so I didn't pick up. We were still cable-deficient, so we watched old movies before I headed off to bed. As I went towards my room, I saw that the caller had finally left a message, so I checked it - oh, man! They are calling me to work at a shelter. I'll call her back in the morning.

On Thursday, I woke up to another message; this time it was my boss. Apparently they were really desperate for bodies, and I was "fresh", meaning I'd not yet worked at a shelter. Bummer. Although, you all know me, I'll gladly work, even if I don't really want to. When I got to work, my boss said I would most likely work on Saturday, if the shelters were still open.

Hubby was back at work today too, so he could finally get some WiFi (he was getting extremely bored and grumpy at home).  This meant that the Kiddo was home alone (which she loves), but alone with no WiFi, or cable. I texted her that she should go to the library - DUH! It has free WiFi!

Cox services were all back up and running around 4pm - yay! - and it was great to finally settle back in to real life and have a home-cooked meal.

On Friday, I woke up to no Cox again! (It came back a few hours later, for good.) I stopped by the Circle K near my office for my usual Friday treat and they still had no gas and no ice, a lot of empty shelves and the soda machine was out of order completely. I went over to McDonald's instead, where they were also low on supplies - they had a printed list of what all they had available posted to the drive-thru speakers. It was a very interesting morning. Once I got to work, I was told that I was off the hook for shelter-duty; they didn't think they would need to keep the shelters open over the weekend.

Once the weekend got here, it was a relief. We'd made it through a crazy week! I was finally able to get a bunch of stuff done; got the house cleaned up, got some dishes done. I was able to do a quick shopping trip for urgent stuff (the shelves of Walmart were still pretty bare because trucks were so behind).  On Sunday, I knocked out 6 miles on the treadmill (should have been 7.5). And wait... there's another storm? What's Maria doing?