Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Universe Humbles Me

Yesterday was my last double digit run before Boston. It seemed logical to wear my planned race day outfit for the run. An outfit that I had yet to wear. I do have the Northface tank in several colors and the epiphany skort in another color but the blue skort and the yellow tank I have not yet worn. I decided to not wear the arm sleeves since it was 70 and 88% humidity when I headed out for my 14 miles.

As I mentioned in a previous post the kids are on Spring Break so me getting to do this run outside and alone was unlikely this week. But as it turned out I was able to negotiate with Ryan that he watch the kids for a few hours before he and Beau left to go kill some turkeys this weekend.

I was so excited to do this run and have it behind me. I felt great when I headed out, light and happy. For 14 miles I usually turn out of my neighborhood to the right and run til the sidewalk ends and then turn around and head back and begin the 10 mile hilly loop. The out back portion is relatively flat and a good warm up. I do it again after the loop too.

I was happily running down the sidewalk, bemoaning a bit the humidity and warmness of the morning but feeling good. The sidewalk crosses over a few streets--dead end neighborhoods, not main thoroughfares. About a mile in I cross over a street that is had a new dead end one street neighborhood being constructed. As I am crossing over I am suddenly caught in a cloud of smoke. A construction truck with a bulldozer on the back of it is spewing smoke. Just as I had reached the road the man operating the truck started up the bulldozer and something malfunctioned and caused a huge cloud of smoke. I couldn't have avoided it.

I think I held my breath and turned my head away from the truck. I really didn't think too much about it other than annoyance of the construction interrupting my peaceful morning run and decided I would run on the road instead of the sidewalk after the turn around to give myself more distance from the construction.

As I am running I notice black dots on my arms. Unconcerned I try to wipe them away, thinking it is soot. I am still running but I notice that I am polka dotted all over in these black spots and they are not wiping off. As I reach the turn around I start to panic. What the hell is this stuff?!?!!??

Then I notice it is all over my race day outfit and REALLY start to freak out.

I am back at the neighborhood and I see the man at the truck sweeping stuff up or maybe he was shoveling. The man's name is Jerry. I don't know that yet but I later learn that is his name. I run up to him and say "Look at me! I got trapped in that cloud of smoke from your truck! What is this stuff all over me!"

Flatly, unimpressed, bored, he says" Oil. It's oil."

OHMYGOD, OIL!!!! I scream in my head but calmly, I think, ask, "Will it come out of my clothes?"

Jerry, even more bored by the conversation  and me shrugs and says, "It should."

Then he turns away from me, dismissing me and going back to his sweeping or shoveling. I immediately determine that he has no idea if oil comes out of clothes because I can tell by his clothes, his long scraggly grey hair and beard, he just wouldn't care or notice if oil came out of any of his clothes. I, however, am almost positive it doesn't come out of clothes since I have had no success in getting bike grease out of clothes. While I don't know the exact the chemical composition of oil or grease, logic tells me they are close cousins at best; twins at worst.


I head back down the side walk, sprinting, angry and freaking out that I have oil all over me! I run straight home and come screaming in the house.  Ryan! I have oil all over me! What am I going to do! RYAN!!!!And telling the cloud of smoke/creepy Jerry tale to him as I run through the house looking for him. I guess I am always running around freaking out because the kids don't even look up at me or act like they hear me. Typical.

Finally I find Ryan and confront him with my polka dotted self. Look at me! I implore. And he stands there, chuckling, as he looks and answers my question of is it going to come out of my Boston marathon outfit with a decisive no. But then says take it off; give it to me. I've got some simple green and I'll soak it.

I peel off my polka dotted clothes and hand them to him and he goes downstairs to soak my clothes. I start to put on clean running clothes but I realize I might get oil on them too so I retrieve my black tank I wore yesterday (ew, I know) from the hamper and find my old (clean) dark blue running skirt.

The kids come upstairs having heard from Ryan my dilemma to laugh and gawk at me. I love how stuff like this happens to me and they are rather unfazed. Like, huh, look at that. Mommy got polka dotted with oil. That's funny. Hey, wanna go jump on the trampoline Beau? Yeah. Cool. See ya polka dotted Mommy.

I go downstairs and Ryan informs me it isn't coming out of my clothes. Now I am raging pissed off. I insist that Ryan come down to the job site with me and make Jerry give me money for my outfit. He has, after all, ruined my Boston outfit, my run, and at the moment it seems, my life! I need compensation damn it and you are my husband and I am having an adult tantrum and YOU! MUST Do.What.I.SAY!

Ryan says no, smiling a little. He explains, Jerry can't do anything.  Go get the truck owner's name and get his number. Come with me! Pleasseeeeee I am little polka dotted runner girl and there are all dirty construction workers there.

No, he says. Firmly. Leaving me and my adult tantrum.

I am on a tear and slam the door as I run out of the house leaving my husband to wash my oily clothes and ready to rip Jerry a new you know what. Sure I am tiny polka dotted runner girl but I am really, really angry. My anger is a super power.

But when I get to the neighborhood Jerry, the truck and the bulldozer are gone! My super power rage grows! I search the street of half constructed houses and try to decide which construction worker is going to be my best bet at finding out who owns that damn truck and bulldozer.

I assume most everyone at the site is contracted labor and no one here is in charge. But surely, I think, they must know each other. I also know that there is a good likelihood they won't want to tell me who owns the truck. There is a man on a bobcat near where the truck was parked. I suspect maybe he is with the truck that sprayed me but he is Hispanic and I guess he probably doesn't speak English or will at least pretend he doesn't when I try to talk to him. He is also very busy moving dirt around with a bobcat. I run down the street and up drive way of a mostly built house. A carpenter with a longer and blonder ponytail than I have is standing in the garage.

I run up to him and ask him who owns the truck that was at the front of the neighborhood. At first he just stares at me so long that I wonder if he doesn't speak English. But then I realize it is because I am polka dotted. So I explain what happened and he just stands there wide eye in awe and trying not to smile (I see the corners of his wrinkly lips twitching to turn into a grin) at my story. After a moment he says, wow, that is crazy. I'm like, uhm, yeah I know. So, do you know how owns that truck?

He says no, of course but tells me the guy on the bobcat works for the company. I thank him and run up to the bobcat driver certain he isn't going to tell me anything. His English isn't great and he doesn't know the name of the company but he does know the owner's name is Mike and he has his phone number. Score! I whip out my phone and he tells me the number. I am totally shocked that he gave it to me.

So I move away from the bobcat and try to get out of the noise and give old Mike a call. I am surprised when he answers. I tell him my situation and he is very shocked and confused to hear from me. He says he is going to need to call Jerry and he will call me back. I give him my name, number and explain that I need to finish up my run because I am training for the Boston marathon (!) and for him to leave a message. We hang up.

With nothing left to do I run out of the neighborhood back to the sidewalk to finish up my run. I am almost shaking I am so angry and frustrated with the situation. I really don't feel like running anymore. But I force myself to continue because this is the only time I have to do this run so it needs to be done now. So I keep running.

And running works its usual magic on my attitude. I realize that if this is the worst thing that happens to me before Boston then I am getting a deal. I run down my list of worse things that could happen and by the time I stop for water at 7 miles I am okay. I am still bummed my outfit is ruined but I also know I can find another one.It really doesn't matter. And  I decide that I have to choose to not let this ruin my day. In the 9th mile my phone rings, I see it is Mike. I don't answer. He leaves a message. It makes me happy that he called me back. I really didn't think he would.

I finish my run and considering the heat, the humidity, the drama, it was a pretty good run. I listen to Mike's message and he says to bring the outfit to show him the damage and he will write me a check. Wanting to be fair I look up the prices on the Internet, print out the cost--I even found my tank cheaper--and bring those to him. I get out of the car and he starts laughing and apologizing when he sees polka dotted me. He doesn't even want to see the outfit. I show him my invoices and he writes me a check. We part ways and agree to not let the incident ruin our weekends.

And I go home and order my replacement outfit. I hope it gets here in time but if not I will just wear something else. I really will just be relieved when I find myself standing at the start line and-- hopefully-- sail with cartwheels across the finish line. It has been one long journey to get to Boston, that's for certain.

Okay, here are the pictures. They are taken with my phone and by me so they aren't that great and do not do the polka dotting justice.

Outfit post washing: Tiny black oil polka dots every where.

Skirt and my legs a minute after getting oiled:

After I ran home and changed. It occurred to me that I should take more pictures in case I needed proof. Please excuse how ugly I am.
My arms

I have run 14 miles, had two showers where I scrubbed and I still have some oil dots on me. I thought it wasn't that noticeable but my sister asked me what happened to me yesterday before I even had time to tell her.

Oh well, chalking it up to weird and funny shit that seems to always happen to me. The universe? It humbles me daily.


  1. If you had gotten it quickly, I have had good success with Dawn taking tractor grease/oil out of the way.

    However, if the Simple Green didn't work, Dawn may not have either.

    Thank you Mike. You should totally post the name of his business since he is such a good guy.

  2. I'm super surprised he paid you back...what a nice guy. Sucks that it happened.

  3. Steph I totally spaced on the name of his company. It was some intitals I think, like M and L Grading. I don't even remember his last name. But he was very very nice to me.

    I was very surprised that he payed me back too--especially without argument. But I really was covered in oil and it was from his truck so he was liable.