Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Week of Extremes


I am rubbish in the heat. With my pale skin and fair hair, I'm just not suited to it. One of the main reasons I was happy to move from Dubai to NYC was to escape the heat, and live in 'proper' weather.

How naive I was. NYC is giving Dubai a run for its money this week, as a record breaking heat wave ploughs its way across the U.S., hiking New York temperatures above 100 F, and heat indices above 110. It. Is. Boiling.

Now Dubai does get hotter than this, but then in Dubai we lived in a large, airy villa with tiled floors and central a/c. We could move from air-conned house, to air-conned car (parked just outside our door) to air-conned office/ mall/ restaurant/what have you.

In New York things are pretty different. For a start we're on the 4th floor of an old limestone building. Remember what you learned at school about heat rising? Well it's all true. Heat does rise and once it's risen, it hangs out in our apartment and refuses to leave. That's our apartment without central a/c, but instead with total wastes of money portable a/cs that barely make an impact. As I write this we have 3 a/cs running in our living space and I am still sweating. And the air-conned car? What air-conned car? We don't have one of those! If you have one of those, you need somewhere to park it and we didn't fancy having to get a bus home from the nearest parking space. So, if we need to get anywhere, we walk. In the heat. With two kids. And the shopping/ scooters/ lunchboxes/handbags/what have yous.

Oh, it's beyond joyful.

And did I mention the four flights of stairs that we (me. the 2 kids) climb when we actually manage to get in the door? No? Well that's just a treat, because that's when I get to carry Jackson (all 30lbs of him) as well as the shopping/ scooters/ lunchboxes/handbags/what have yous, because Jackson has decided he doesn't like walking up stairs anymore. It's especially wonderful when we get half-way up the final flight of stairs and the temperature jumps up by about 10 degrees to 'sauna' level. That's my favourite bit.

It's looking like the heat will die down (a bit) in the next few days, so that we'll only have highs in the late 80s (woo flippin' hoo). So maybe I'll be able to get a bit of running in. This week I've managed a pathetic 3.5 miles what with the heat and Paul's work schedule. 3 of those miles were on the treadmill, which I loathe with a passion. And I tell you, missing my runs messes with my head. I'm cranky when I don't get to run. I start wanting to boost my serotonin levels by other means (i.e. chocolate). My pudding intake increases exponentially and I start to feel crappy. Rather that though than attempt a run outside. On Thursday, on the way home from the (cool, air-conned) library with Jackson, I watched as loads of runners came bounding out of the park. At midday. In 95 degree heat. What possesses them?!!! I mean I know I'm a bit of a wimp, but that's just ridiculous, surely?


So, without my usual running fix I had to find another way of getting a hit, and achieved this by going to see the fantastic 'Hood To Coast' at the IndieScreen in Williamsburg.

Hood to Coast is a documentary film about The Hood To Coast relay race which runs every year between Mount Hood in Oregon and the Pacific Ocean in Seaside, Oregon. The course covers 197 miles and is run by over 15,000 runners, all in teams of 12. Each runner in a team runs 3 legs of, on average, 6 miles. When not running, the team members return to one of two team vans that follow the runners along the course. Extreme, huh? (Do you see a theme developing here?).

Hood To Coast is not only extremely well made - quirky, funny and captivating - but also incredibly moving. It features a number of teams, and tells their stories as well as documenting their progress in the race. Team R Bowe runs in rememberance of Ryan Bowe, who unexpectedly died of a heart attack a year before at the age of 30. His mother, brother and wife run along with his friends to complete the race he loved so much.

Team Heart 'n' Sole, comprised completely of women over 50, run for the first time since Kathy, one of their members, literally dropped dead on the course the previous year, only to be revived by fellow runners. The film follows Kathy's comeback a year, and a triple heart bypass later, at the age of 67. These stories are told with compassion and unexpected humour, and I challenge anyone not to be moved by them.

Much light relief is supplied by other teams, namely 'Dead Jocks In a Box' and 'Thunder and Laikaning'. The former, a 'masters' team, including one member who has run every race for the last 25 years, and whom like his team mates, behaves more like a teenage boy than a man in his fifties. The later is a team comprised of mostly sedentary animators, who belive that the key to running the race is to eat (pizza) and drink (beer) as much as possible and to train (practice running) as little as possible.

The race course winds through unspeakably beautiful scenery, which had me literally wiggling in my seat, wanting to be there running too. As the runners make their way along it, their stories unfold further, engaging you with their experience so that when they finish, you share their jubilance and relief.

Honestly, I'd recommend this film to runners and non-runners alike. It's on Netflix, so check it out if you can, otherwise check out the website to see when and where it's playing next.

Running 197 miles is not easy. But like one of the characters says, when you get 12 people together, you can do anything. So my only question is, if I'm number 1, who are my other 11? Who's in for next year?

I'm serious.

Who wants to spend a weekend doing something unbelievable? Who thinks they can run 3 legs of 6-7 miles through the most beautiful scenery you can imagine as part of an amazing group effort to do something you never thought you could be part of?

Extreme, eh?

So come on then, who's in? And what's our team name?


Noo said...

WOW! If I was a runner, I'd be tempted.

Lindsay Owen said...

You have more than a year to become a runner, Noo. Come on..... what are you waiting for? xxxx

Grenglish said...

I would love to, it sounds amazing but I'd never be able to do it... I can't run to the end of the street let alone attempt 6 miles! Love you for going for it though x

jillconyers said...

Enjoyed reading your rant. The way you write makes even the miserable extreme heat funny :)

We saw H2C last year. Loved it! I am by no means a fast runner but I can go the distance and then some. So this is perfect.

I've been attempting to put together a team for 2012 or 2013. Unfortunately I can't seem to find 12 people that will commit to 197 miles!

JulieK said...

serious maybe on hood to coast. :D

also, if you promise to drive on the correct side of the street this side of the pond, I have a car you can borrow. conveniently, already with car seats.