Cornfield Meet

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This is Me in ’83 – December

Postcards from Christmas vacation, 1983:

A Christmas Story came out in November, but I know it had been out for awhile by the time I saw it at the Gold Circle Cinemas. My parents had seen it already, as had this kid at school who told me how it ended after I asked him about it. Seems likely I went to see it over the winter break.

I was a big Bloom County fan This is my best “Bill the Cat” face:

So, if you recall, Return of the Jedi had come out earlier that year. This meant Star Wars gifts were pretty popular at Christmas. My brothers got a a bunch of Jedi toys and stuff: Speeder Bikes, the Ewok Village, action figures, big Presto Magix kits. It was really the last big Star Wars Christmas of the original trilogy era.

As a newly-minted teenager, I had pretty much taken Star Wars toys off my wish list. The last Kenner Star Wars toy I specifically asked for was the Y-Wing. As I wrote in Collect All 21! –

Couldn’t help it. This thing was light years ahead of the old X-Wing, armed with not only that squealing laser cannon, but a rotating top turret and a plastic bomb to drop from its underbelly. And it had a socket behind the cockpit for Artoo units. I may not have actually role-played with my figures anymore, but I did send that ship on many a run over card houses in our living room, and somewhere in our family albums there’s a snapshot of me using the ship to dive bomb my little brother and his Knight Rider-inspired remote-control black Camaro.

Now, for years, I remembered that Y-Wing as a 13th birthday request: But this picture was clearly taken on Christmas, judging by my sweet striped sweater and cool brown corduroy pants – the same outfit as in that first shot. And the Y-Wing box is in the background of another Christmas picture, so while I may have asked for it in November, the evidence suggests I got it on Christmas. I think the only other Star Wars toy I got that year was the Vehicle Maintenance Energizer, which paired up nicely with the ship.

I still have my Y-Wing. You can see it in this shot from Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys:

YWingShelf

And with that flash-forward, I wrap up This is Me in ’83.

Big thanks to my mom, who kept and organized shelves full of photo albums that held a lot of these pictures.

I’ve really enjoyed this project. I didn’t wind up writing as much as I thought I would when I started, but I also dug up and rediscovered things I didn’t have in mind a year ago. I also found some other pictures and photos and memories that I want to share and write about.

I hope you’ve had a good year. Thanks for visiting 1983 with me.

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December 24, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Ohio | , , , | 1 Comment

Running Cold – Ohio Outside Trail Series

Like a Spin̈al Tap amplifier, my streak of running at least one race per year now Goes To Eleven.

When I started out this year by setting my goal of 365 total miles, I thought for sure that somewhere along the way I’d be training for another race which would make that goal pretty easy. Then I lost a big chunk of summer, and found that I didn’t want my 10-year race streak to end.

I started trail running on September first, really liked it, and mixed it regularly into my schedule. And a day after turning 43, I registered for the final race in this year’s Ohio Outside Trail Series.

So last Saturday, Dec. 7, I bundled up and drove to the Munroe Falls Metro Park, arriving just after 8 a.m. for the 8:30 race. It was 22 degrees, but not too windy. A good layer of snow & ice on the ground. By the time I checked in, returned my race goodies to the car, and used the restroom, I only had to stand around for maybe six or seven minutes before the race, which was good.

I had been dealing with a hot throat and clogged sinuses for a couple days, but it was just a cold – not flu – and dammit, I paid for this race, so I was going to run it. And it’s been my experience that the effort of running clears my head, and can usually push aside minor illnesses for awhile.

There were fewer than 200 runners taking part in this 4.7 mile run, but even so, things were crowded on the trail for most of the first mile. It was odd, at the start, hearing the muffled footsteps of runners on snow-covered grass instead of pavement, but once we got into the woods, I felt very much at home.

I’m glad I did as much trail running as I did at Quail Hollow, because it prepared me for the reality of slower times compared with road running, and for the climbs and  descents, and the focus and energy and effort it takes. I wish I’d spent more time in the woods, in fact.

Based on the course photos and the trail description, I was expecting a wider and more level run – but the mostly narrow two-lap loop was very reminiscent of the wooded trails of Quail Hollow, with hills and drops and uneven footing. All the stuff I kind of love about trail running. What was different today was the snow and ice, which factored into the running mostly on the downhill stretches, since it kept me from freewheeling.

The temperature was also a factor in my lung power, and kept me slower than I can manage on the roads – but again, I’d anticipated that.

I did manage a nice kick toward the end – helped by about a two-tenths stretch on a park road during the final seven-tenths of the race – sprinting past a guy with whom I’d been swapping spots over the final mile and a half or so. When he crossed the finish line shortly after me, he tapped me on the shoulder and said “Nice finish.”

Here’s my Garmin data from the race:

OhioOutdoorRun

My official time was actually 47:57 – I forgot to stop my Forerunner when I hit the finish mark, which is why the results above are slightly more – which put me in 80th place out of 159 runners. (Which, of course, made me think I could have worked a little harder and passed the woman who finished two seconds ahead of me, which would have put me in the top half. Dang.)

Despite being nowhere near placing, and with an average pace of 10:19, I’m really glad I did this run, and I think next year I’ll see if I can get my brother Adam to run all three with me. In the meantime, I’ll work to wrap up my goal of 365 this year, put in more time on the trails, and enjoy a frosty beverage or three in this:

Owly Images

Speaking of that Running 2013 goal, with the race behind me, here’s the recap for the two previous weeks:

Week 48 – Two nearly identical four-mile road runs Nov. 30 and Dec. 1: Same route, same overall 9-minute pace. For no discernible reason, I felt better after the second one, though.

Week 49 – 4.7 miles on Saturday, Dec. 7, as detailed above. After I got home from the race, I stopped being in denial about the cold I was nursing, and I didn’t run any more.

That brings me to 344.2 miles. As of today (Tuesday, Dec. 10), there are 21 days left in the year for me to run 21 miles – which would put me just one-fifth of a mile over my goal.

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Weeks forty-six and forty-seven

My last two weekends of running have been all over the map, literally and figuratively: I’ve been struggling with my lung power, and having trouble tackling runs in more than relatively short bursts. I don’t know if it’s been the cold weather or what, but I have really felt winded.

So: Saturday, Nov. 16 – Four trail miles at Quail Hollow, mid-30s, temperature wise. Just before the mile-and-a-half mark, I found myself in unmarked territory and had to stop and get my bearings – and wound up doubling back anyway. (I hadn’t actually left park territory, but I was out on the fringes near one of the bordering roads.) I’d done a 9:05 first mile, which is pretty quick for my trail runs, and it hit me hard enough that I needed to take a break after mile two. Things didn’t get easier: I needed two more breaks over the last two miles and never regained any speed.

Sunday the 17th – my 43rd birthday – I thought I’d better try to address this whole breathing thing and do some speedwork: Four decent quarter-mile runs, where my per-mile pace worked out to 5:52, 5:55, 6:15, and 7:00. My total running time was something around 6:20, with about a 2-minute break between each run. Then I did a 2.6-mile jog (10:02 pace). The extra tenth of a mile was because I remembered my last mileage total ended in a .9.

Monday, Nov. 18, I registered for the Dec. 7 Ohio Outdoor Series Trail Run.

Saturday, Nov. 23: Temperatures in the high 20s. Sunny and windy. I hit the roads near the house for what turned out to be another stuttering sort of morning, but I probably set myself up for that by pushing myself to a 7:39 first mile. A two-minute rest, and then I jogged two more 1.5-mile stretches (9:26 and 10:22) with another brief rest in the middle.

And then I missed Sunday the 24th – I wimped out, because it was below 20 degrees and windy, and while I have the gear for cold-weather running, I just couldn’t bring myself to go out there and put my lungs through it.

Which means my mileage total is now 331.5 – and today is the 330th day of the year.

I’m hopeful that the weather – and my lungs – will cooperate enough that I can get in some good extra miles over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and get back into some decent long stretches without feeling so beat.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | 1 Comment

This is Me in ’83 – Teenagerdom

Thirty years ago, I became a teenager.

I wasn’t a huge fan of cake, so mom made me these amazing frozen mint pies with Oreo cookie crusts.

I also received a speedometer for my bike:

 

Three decades later, I spent a good chunk of my birthday playing a 1980s-era video game (Gauntlet) with my brothers, and the evening with my immediate family – having pie.

 

 

November 17, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Ohio | , , | 2 Comments

Running 2013: Weeks forty-four and forty-five

It was sunny and in the mid-30s on Sunday, Nov. 3. I had skipped the cold and wet day before, knowing this was going to be a decent day. I plotted a new loop – 7.25 miles, out onto some new roads.

A really hilly stretch in miles 4-6 took a toll, and I slowed up pretty significantly in the last half, but let myself focus on enjoying the run and taking in the distance. Average pace: 9:43.

Saturday, Nov. 9, another gray and mid-30s day. Four pretty steady road miles:  8:46; 8:50; 9:06; and 8:39.

Sunday the 10th, was gray and cold again, but much, much windier – which made it a great day to be in the Quail Hollow woods. 3.5 miles, 9:36 pace.

On the year: 319.9 (know, I know – I’d have added another tenth if I’d realized that was going to happen). Today is the 316th day of the year, so I’m right where I need to be.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week forty-four

Three-and-a-half trail miles on Saturday, Oct. 26, and four road miles on Sunday the 27th.

Cold enough both days to warrant long pants, a sweatshirt, hat and gloves, but not nearly enough to get out the long-sleeved Under Armour shirt.

I ran in the woods on Saturday because even though it was 37 and sunny, it was really windy. Being in the trees made a huge difference. I pushed through two decent miles, just over nine minutes each, but really hit a wall toward the end of mile three, so even though I had been wanting to bank some extra distance, I settled for 3.5.

Sunday was similar, temperature- and sky-wise, but with very little breeze, so I did a casual four-mile loop, during which I spent a good amount of time juggling some writing ideas, getting super-excited about them, and trying to run faster while speaking the ideas out loud to myself so I wouldn’t forget them when I got home.

Miles on the year: 305.15. Today (10/30) is Day 303.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Dad and me and Mad

This may be my favorite picture of me and my dad:

I had placed this sometime around 1973, but thanks to the incredible archive at Doug Gilford’s Mad Cover Site, I’ve discovered it’s got to be at least early 1975 which would make me 4 years old. I’m reading the March issue, Dad’s got Super Special #14, and the December ’74 issue is there in the foreground.

I can remember that bedspread and its texture; and the feel and weight of those dark yellow plastic plates that appear to have some bologna sandwiches on them; and the brown plastic bowl, too.

It looks like I’ve got a kids’ book at lower right, but I’d bet I’ve set it aside in favor of Spy vs. Spy. 

October 29, 2013 Posted by | 1970s, Family history, Ohio, photos | , , , , | 1 Comment

This is Me in ’83 – Halloween

Have I mentioned that in 1983, I was really, really into reading my Dungeons & Dragons stuff? 

Inspired by that source material, I cobbled together my own fantasy adventurer’s costume for Halloween:

No parental assistance required: Sweat pants and a sweatshirt that looks like I removed the collar for that deep-V look that’s all the rage among dragon-slayers; cape from an old…bedspread, maybe? I can remember the material was heavy, but also kind of clingy and stretchy; tunic-vest-thing that I cut and stitched together myself out of some burlap-type cloth mom had around; and a belt that I probably wore every other day of the year, too.

The sword? A yardstick covered in aluminum foil, of course. Which means it stands to reason – as if it’s not completely clear already – that yes, I am in fact wearing a foil hat. (Technically, my helm was a white knit hat covered in foil. Still: FOIL HAT.)

And now that “foil” sounds funny, I’ll move on.

If I remember correctly, my fellow D&D wannabe Mike S. wore a pretty slick elf ranger costume he and his mom had made.

More than once, I think, Mike and I took advantage of the trick-or-treat scheduling differences between the village of Hartville itself – where he lived – and Lake Township: One usually scheduled it on Halloween proper, while the other set it on the closest preceding weekend night, or something like that, making it possible for us to hit both of our neighborhoods. I seem to think we also really liked going out in the early hours of trick-or-treat, dropping off our candy haul at home, and then going back out after dark to roam the neighborhood and try to scare the kids we knew.

Other bits and pieces nicely caught up in this photo: The Halloween decorations – store-bought and handmade alike – that my mom put out every year; the long-gone brick fireplace and wood paneling of our family room; the wooden set of coasters in their little boxy holder up there on the mantle (these go back practically to the beginning of my memory).

For all the dorkiness captured in this picture – of me, that is; nothing against our family decor – I remain oddly proud of this costume, since I made the whole thing myself.

Plus: Foil hat.

October 28, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Ohio, photos | , , , | 4 Comments

Running 2013: Week forty-three

Yet again, I found myself needing to tackle a week in a day, which didn’t go so well for me in Week 41.

This time, I decided I’d rather try my longest trail run by far and not worry about my time, so long as I just kept moving above a walk.

Gorgeous, sunny morning it was, and just below 50F, so I wore my shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

I covered 7.5 miles – all but a quarter-mile of it off-pavement – and experienced pretty much all the environments of Quail Hollow State Park, finding myself taking a few new paths and way out in suprising parts of the park I hadn’t really come near before. The fastest mile I did was my first – 9:03 – and my slowest was Mile 7, at 11:48 (which included a lot of climbing). I only paused twice – once to get my bearings, and once to figure out how to get across a rain-swollen creek.

For the first time in awhile, I got post-run soreness in my legs the next day, but it was well worth it.

Miles on the year: 297.65. Monday (the close of my running week) was day 294, so I’m right in the zone.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Weeks forty-one and forty-two

I wrote a little bit about the memory trips of my October 6 run, but didn’t address any of the details as far as my running record goes, so…

Week 41:

Saturday Oct. 5 was really busy, and I didn’t get a chance to run, so I figured I’d go out and do a seven-miler on Sunday the 6th and not worry about pacing.

I don’t know whether it was because it was warm for October (around 70F), or the hills in the first few miles, or the fact that it had been almost two months since I’d gone any distance longer than 4.5 miles, but it was a real struggle, and I actually stopped to walk for two minutes, just past the halfway point. (I didn’t count the distance walked toward my to3.5tal.) Knowing that I was going for a longer run, I deliberately kept things easy to start, running an 8:42 pace for the first two-and-a-half miles, which took me out into some rural territory. Then a series of hills hit me. I still managed an 8:50 for mile three, but next six tenths of a mile took me 5:52, and that’s when I realized I was going to need a break.

It helped, but the next 3.4 were a real slog, and my slowest stretch in a long, long time, averaging 10:04.

Week 42:

3.5 uneventful road miles on Friday, Oct. 11: 8:35, 8:20, 8:45, and a 3:53 push the last half mile that got my average pace down to 8:25.

Saturday I hit Quail Hollow for a trail run. I really enjoyed it, but I want to do another post about some of the thoughts on it, and keep this one just to the data points: I averaged 9:26 – which is ballpark for what I manage on the trails – and wrapped it up at 3.25 miles for a couple reasons. First: It was a good stopping point, and I was fairly bushed. Second, I figured that if I left myself a quarter-mile short for the week, it would motivate me to go out the next day, resulting in extra mileage, since I’m never going out for a quarter-miler. If I put the shoes on, I’m always doing at least two miles.

Sunday the 12th: Four miles on the pavement. Perfect overcast morning for it, and I felt really good: 8:32, 8:37, 8:29 for miles 1-3, and a 7:42 for mile four. Average pace was 8:19.

Total miles on the year: 290.15. Monday the 14th is day 287, so I’m back on track!

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

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