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Getting Into Hot Water

22 Jul

Just over two weeks ago, our water heater broke.

For reasons that I will not bore you with because it’s a long story, we are still living without hot water. A family of four plus a mother-in-law. The family of four includes two children who have a close one-on-one relationship with mud.

Bath time takes twice as long as it used to. Instead of simply running the bath for the kids, we have to dump buckets of cold water into the tub, and boil huge pots of water on the stovetop that then get added to the cold water so that the kids won’t go into shock when they get in.

What’s that you’re asking? Oh, why don’t we just run cold water from the tap? Because for whatever reason, the lack of water in the hot water tank has completely messed up the water pressure on the tap in the bathroom.

On the one hand, I am glad this did not happen in the middle of winter. Because then, heating the bath water to a bearable level would take three times as long. On the other hand, though, in winter you can get away with taking fewer baths. During the dog days of summer, however, when the temperatures are well over a hundred degrees, regular baths are kind of important.

The baths just take care of the kids. Gerard has a shower in his shop, and I have to traipse off the gym in order to avoid being one of The Unwashed. My mother-in-law goes to her sister’s house.

Once everyone is clean, we then have to deal with the dishes. Running the dishwasher is out of the question because it wouldn’t do the job very well, and because it’s not even connected to the cold water anyway. So dishes have to be washed by hand, and kettles full of boiling water keep having to be added to the water in the kitchen sink. Instead of taking ten minutes to clear the dishwasher and reload it, I am now having to spend up to an hour on this nonsense.

How on earth did people five hundred years ago get anything done?

Well. While the men were out conquering whatever they were conquering, the women were staying home and taking care of it all. It’s not like they had to spend two hours a day on the subway getting to and from a full-time job at the office. And besides, avoiding body odour wasn’t such an issue with them. They had annual baths every July, and the entire village shared a single tub of water for the occasion.

Apparently – apparently – our hot water will be reinstated within two or three days. I’ll believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, I just have to make the most of what I have. And drink wine to stop myself from going completely round the bend.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dustpuppy/5371295/)

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Running Through The Fields On A Summers Day

20 Jun

My next half-marathon, which takes place a month from now, will involve a variety of running surfaces. The route will take runners along trails, on the streets, through a tunnel going under the highway, and through a number of fields in the farming community hosting the run.

Training for this event is proving to be interesting. For one thing, I have to do my training runs on a mix of terrains – easier said than done, for someone who lives in a definitively urban area. But still, there are ways and means, and I’ve been trying to incorporate the trails in our local parks into my routes.

The bigger challenge for me is the fact that this race is happening on July 17th, in other words, slap-bang in the middle of summer. Although I hail from sunny climes, and probably have more endurance for hot-weather running than most North American runners, I’m not a complete masochist, and still opt to run in cooler conditions where possible.

But this race, taking place at a time of year when the mercury is already hitting 30° Celsius by eight in the morning, is forcing me to change my usual training strategy. Because where I would usually go running at 5:00 a.m., I am now looking for opportunities to run later in the day, when it’s warmer. It’s all about acclimatization. When race day rolls around, I don’t want to be the weasel who cannot handle running in the heat. I want to be the one who runs strongly throughout.

And that is why I voluntarily headed out for a 16km  run shortly after lunchtime on Saturday. It was hot. Blisteringly. Although the actual temperature was only 19° Celsius, the humidity reading was pushing it up to the mid-thirties. Although this would never have potential to be a run I would describe as “pleasant”, the heat in itself was not the whole problem. I had not fueled myself properly for the run. More importantly, I had not hydrated myself. So not only was I hot, I was intensely thirsty as well, and I just didn’t have the energy stores I needed.

After 6km I gave up, and decided to do the long run the following morning when it was cooler. Usually I would hate the idea of cutting a run short, but since I had initially intended to run on Sunday anyway, I felt OK about it. I just chalked this up as a bonus 6km run.

When I got home I looked at my training schedule and saw that I wasn’t even supposed to do 16km this weekend. I was only supposed to do 10km. If I’d realized that I would have stuck out my Saturday run for the full 10km.

Maybe next time I will consult my training schedule before I hit the road.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stamargo/4894061863/)