Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Big F*#&in' Rats

West/Epps 6.3mi

I hadn’t actually looked at my training calendar for awhile and I just assumed that this week’s long run would be 12 miles, but it turns out that last week’s goal was 11-12 miles (I ran 11) and this week begins the alternation between truly long runs (greater than 10 miles) and shorter recovery runs. So, this week's Tuesday goal is only 6 miles. Of course this would generally be considered good news, but I have come to enjoy the increase in distance each week, especially now that I've gotten myself into uncharted waters. Next week will put me into half marathon territory.
I ran a 6.3-mile route staying as close to the river as possible and, as always, running upstream first and letting the current carry me back. I don’t know why, but it just feels better this way.
In the evening I did some surfing around and found that my friend Stefanie had written a response/review of this site on her own blog page.

if you squint your eyes the air sounds like water
i've been reading my friend devon's blog about his training for a marathon in tampa and now all i can think about is the centro asturiano and naviera coffee. i have been away from tampa for nearly seven years and suddenly i am intoxicated by the thought of it. such exotically familiar surroundings. he writes in depth about the routes that he painstakingly maps out and i feel as though i was asleep for the ten years i lived there. his tampa is one i only saw glimpses of. mine is only a half-real dream. disjointed memories of another life. i miss the abandoned cigar factories. the now demolished tides motel on st. pete beach watching german films projected on bedsheets. falling asleep on the beach after talking all night to a guy with hair just like mine.i miss the late nights working in our lazy-criminal infested studio. i miss watching the guys making cuban bread at four in the morning in the bakery i visited at least three times a week and now can't remember the name of. i miss the heated debate about where we should have breakfast--three coins (spinach feta omelette) or niko's (the best and surliest waitresses). i miss working in a warehouse where the only air conditioning to be found was sticking your head in the sink. i miss throwing rocks at my friend steve's window only to find him throwing rocks at mine. i miss broom hockey in the painting studio and our experimental band we liked to call: a cooking egg. i miss the intense friendships that can only be formed through youth and oppressive humidity.i miss the first house i lived in with it's stucco walls and imbedded pieces of colored glass. the porch where we drank my questionable neighbor's seemingly generous gift of moonshine. my crazy landlord, a triplet from the cayman islands and her bumbling brother who broke everything he ever fixed. the bench imbedded in the river bank. the river. our constant attempts and plans to scale the sulphur springs water tower. the inexhaustable love i had for a boy who picked me up for our first date in a canoe.

I called Stef , who I hadn’t actually spoken to in a few years, and we spent a couple hours catching up on our current pursuits and interests, and talking about Running Through Tampa. She said she felt like it was her little secret that she revealed to a select, and mostly disinterested, few, and that she had started limiting herself to reading my posts on the weekends so that she wouldn’t be disappointed if I only had one entry for the week. I was touched that there was even one person out there anxiously awaiting the next dispatch and amused that she was secreting them away like the chocolate bar that Jan hides in the refrigerator for when things get really bad.
Part of what struck me about Stef’s comments was the importance of the histories that we had created for these places ourselves, and the indelible impressions that they had left on us both. Historical research helps to fill out the body of images and memories that we have of these places, but it is the history of our own making that brings them to life.
So I return to a memory map of the river. My earliest memory involving the river is of my family launching water balloons across to the west bank from Epps Park, when my aunt lived in the now infamous North Street compound. The keys to these houses have passed through the hands of countless artists, musicians, and general misfits over the last thirty years or so. It seems like everyone in Tampa knows someone who has lived in one of these houses, and volumes could be written solely on their occupants over the years. My aunt worked in a lab and would bring home long sections of surgical tubing which we would tie between two trees with a funnel in the center. These devices were capable of launching a waterballoon clear across the river and could be used to knock revelers off of their homemade rafts during the Hillsborough River Rat Race.
Another random image: night kayaking from Ed’s house to the water tower with Mark and Kim. On the way back, in the spirit of exploration, I suggest to Mark that we paddle our kayaks up the drainage culvert beneath the Nebraska Avenue Bridge. I think we can fit if we just duck forward and paddle with our hands.
“What are you nuts?” Mark asks. “That thing’s full of rats.”
“How can there be any rats?” I say. “There’s no land in there.”
One of the quickest wits I’ve ever known, Mark turns me around mid-stroke with his curt reply. “There will be when you go in.”


Blogger Taylor Brady said...

I had the feeling, reading your last post, that it's probably time constraints rather than lack of materials that's been slowing down your research alongside this project. Still, just in case you're looking for a lift in that area, check out the Center for Land Use Interpretation, www.clui.org.


10:15 PM  
Blogger stefanie said...

it's sunday night. i've just returned from selling (or not selling, rather) magnets at the renegade craft fair in this, the city of neighborhoods. i should be sleeping to make up for the six hours of sleep i've had in two days, but this has become my ritual. so here i am, running through tampa with you. thank you for the inclusion of my fragmented history and thanks for your part in it. sweet dreams.

12:25 AM  

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