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Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008
Day 15
Should I Skip the Bolder Boulder?
Saturday, May 3, 2008
22 Days Until Bolder Boulder

The plan was to get a great night's sleep and see how it positively affected my long run but the smoke alarms went off at about 2:54 am and that killed the plan. The system was wired so all the alarms went off if just one did. The advantage of this was anyone located anywhere in the house would quickly become aware of the possible need to evacuate the building.

The downside was all the alarms were sounding simultaneously - creating an unbearable cacophony. Even worse, the system did not identify which alarm unit had sounded - they all were screaming at the top of their little electronic lungs. And at 2:54 am, even a small sound can sound loud.

After fetching an ear-protection headset from my closet - talk about being prepared (actually, I used the headset for airline travel due to the high ambient noise level in jets which has been proven to be injurious to one's hearing - ask all the flight attendants who have just about gone deaf about this) - I began making my way through the house on a mission to (a) silence all of the smoke alarms by disabling them and (b) find out which one was the culprit.

Of course, there actually could be a fire in the house or someone could have broken in and set them off on purpose but I knew the odds of either scenario asymptotically approached zero so I didn't grab a fire extinguisher or a baseball bat (or a fire extinguisher the size of a baseball bat). Instead, I put on some shoes and started my trek through the house.

Despite the high-pitched scream of the alarms, the dogs were not flustered at all. They faithfully followed me around the house and reassured me they would take care of any intruder. Right…

The scene started to become even more comical. I began the disabling process with a two-stair metal stepladder. I was able to reach a couple of the smoke alarms. Then I had to get a multi-rung stepladder so I could reach the other units. Unfortunately, even that eight-foot ladder was inadequate for the task so I had to go back to the garage and get a 12-foot ladder.

The dogs were shaking their heads, wondering, "Why does this moron need three ladders to do this job?"

I finally found the culprit. Naturally, it was the last smoke alarm I disabled. The battery inside was a "heavy duty" type which, anyone who knows even the minimal amount regarding batteries understands is not "heavy duty." "Heavy duty" batteries are the inexpensive versions which barely carry a charge and which shouldn't be on the market. The person who had assisted me by replacing the nine-volt batteries in all the smoke alarms had somehow decided to use the wrong battery in just this one unit. I was confident I had solved the early morning mystery. What fun!

By the time I was done and had returned all three ladders to their rightful places, it now was 3:30 am. I decided to take out the dogs because they were more than ready to go. And I owed it to them after how patient they had been through the early morning auditory debacle. They had a good time and I was exhausted.

Having now been up for three hours, I was unenthusiastic about running and, instead, was ready to take off the entire day. I made it to the trailhead at 6:02 am and both Angela and I noticed it was biting cold. The ambient temperature was about 25°F near the creek-bed where we started our run. Our goal still was to break 85 minutes and, when we started, I didn't think it would be a problem. The brisk air would keep my system cooled and I liked that.

Some deer greeted us as we ran the trail in the early morning light. The great aspect of this time of year was it was light enough to run at 5:30 am and would continue to get better and warmer.

As we ran, we saw geese and ducks in addition to deer. The sunrise was gorgeous and all the mountains were fully lit. We were surprised by how many people we saw this time. A few runners went by us, going the opposite direction when we were heading up to the water tower.
Then, on the way back, we saw a few more.

We also saw a few people with their dogs. That was forbidden on this particular trail but we didn't care. We even saw some of the folks we knew from the YMCA who happened to be on a run. Overall, we saw more people than we had in several months. It was more social to see people but it also was fun to have the trail to oneself - as if it were a private preserve.

After the first two miles, I started to slow down noticeably. The stationary bicycle workout I did yesterday was coming back to haunt me. Angela was ready to increase her speed but was a good sport - slowing down to accommodate me.

By the time we hit the Big Hill at the end of the run - heading up to the water tower - I was a hurtin' cowboy. I ended up breaking the promise I made to myself and walked most of the way up the hill.

Then, on the way back down, I went at a decent pace but Angela was flying. She got to the bottom of the hill before I had even gotten halfway down. I finally caught up with her and somehow managed to run, albeit at a slow pace, the remainder of the return route.

It was a disappointing run from the perspective of having walked so much. Last week's time was 87 minutes and our goal was to break 85 minutes. Much to the surprise of both of us our time was 83 minutes. I knew that, without smoke alarms going off, more sleep, and better eating, I would meet our goal of breaking 80 minutes next week. I felt better already - and was ready to celebrate.

Once I got home, I was dead meat. I got cleaned up and surprised myself when I weighed in at 202. Then I headed straight for the kitchen. First I drank some juice and some lemon-lime seltzer water. Then I ate grapes and entire box of eight Toaster Scrambles for breakfast. My food consumption the rest of the day wasn't much better. I finished a two-liter bottle of root beer and ate a package of orange-dyed crackers with peanut butter. They did taste good, though.

I worked a while and then took my eldest dog, Wally, to his veterinarian, Dr. Michelle DeHaan. He had been losing weight and, at the age of 12½, that was worrisome. I was afraid he had cancer and, after previously having lost four dogs to cancer, many bad memories began to resurface.

I always had taken great care of my pets and went to extraordinary lengths and expense to help them. But I also had learned that prolonging their lives with exotic treatments and experimental surgery wasn't always the best for them. Wally was my baby, however, and had been part of the family for a dozen years. He was the gentlest, non-hyper Golden Retriever I ever knew, with the sweetest disposition. Michelle checked him out thoroughly and took some blood for tests. I knew he and I could be facing a long road ahead of us but, hey, that's what families are all about.

After working some more, I ended up stopping by to see Holly after her Cheer tryout. It went well but she was tired and crabby. Before seeing her, I had downed a raspberry smoothie at Java Java in Lafayette. It was quite good, although smaller than I normally liked. Given my "weight problem," however, I couldn't complain.

Once back at home, I spent the afternoon working on various television projects and answering e-mails I had set aside - some for a week or more. I finally wrote Norman Lear the follow-up letter I had promised when we talked a few weeks ago. I was seeking his help getting guests for the four special programs I was doing on the upcoming Democratic Convention in Denver

For dinner I had three pieces of fried chicken smothered in salsa. I had never done that but decided to experiment. I was tempted to go see D.L. Hughley at Comedy Works but decided to keep working instead. Plus the dogs needed me to feed them dinner, go for a walk, and converse.

I finished the day working until 9:00 pm after being inundated with text messages from Ms. Holly. Some were amusing - such as the one with the word "Bunnychow" followed by 100 or so exclamation points all in a row (i.e., appearing to be blades of grass). Others exhorted me to make purchases of items she was seeing on television - such as a special piece of equipment for washing dogs. And yet others consisted of complaints - such as my failure to give her enough money before she had left the house (she had failed to do her chores and, therefore, did not get the anticipated funds). It was all part of the fun of being a parent.

I finally headed to bed after hearing Mike Doughty's new song, "27 Jennifers" - which always put a smile on my face - and taking the puppies out one last time. Tonight I was going to get a goodnight's sleep if it killed me...

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