Thursday, October 22, 2009

Columbus Marathon

Running a marathon seems like an impossible idea to me. I have always hated running, much preferring the low impact exercise of a bike. It is easy to envy the long lean bodies that runners work so hard to achieve. Runners seem a little crazy to me, this past weekend that was confirmed.

On Sunday was the 30th Annual Columbus Marathon, hosting 15,000 runners. The marathon starts downtown and winds all through the various neighborhoods of Columbus. It is amazing how much ground 26.6 miles covers. The course went from urban downtown through city parks, to quaint German Village, past Ohio State, up to the inner suburbs of Upper Arlington, the wound back down to downtown. A great course matched only by the leaves on the trees in many fall shades.

I volunteered with the Red Cross to staff one of the many first aid stations along the route. We were warned up front that the worst injuries would be psychological. This proved accurate. One runner blew her knee out and completely lost it when told that she would not be able to run the remaining 11 miles of the race. She described her pain as 10 out of 10 and could not put weight on the knee, but she refused to quit. There were various other similar incidents. One runner was taken away in an ambulance after an episode of hysteria when she realized that she could not keep going.

The sacrifice required to train for an event like a marathon is incredible. Practice calls for years of steady training and caution. All runners suffer injuries that constantly nag. It is a brutal sport, especially when the biggest reward is personal satisfaction. A runner who completes the marathon walks away with no more than a T shirt and a few pats on the back from friends. I was happy to end the day with no serious injuries. The Detroit Marathon the same day experienced three runner deaths due to heart attacks.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

3. South Charleston Ohio Water Tower

Giving Back

A mentor once shared his philosophy on remaining happy in life by periodically evaluating where you stand with career, family, and community. If you sense an imbalance in any one area, likely you are due for an adjustment. Serious dissatisfaction in one area likely impacts all parts of your life. When a friend hates his job, I know about it even though I may not work with him. Likewise, when a work colleague is having issues at home, usually it spills over in some way to work. It works in the opposite way too. Being seriously thrilled about home life may help a person cope with a miserable work situation. What is bad for one person is great for another, so it is impossible to generalize where on the scale a person should aim for.

This philosophy resonates with me. I see in myself the need for interesting work, a good home life, and the feeling that I am part of making the world a better place. When I chose to become an accountant, I knew that these parts of my life would necessarily be separate. The four years that I worked for a socially responsible start-up is perhaps the only exception. Otherwise, I have been actively involved with non-profits during my off hours. This was disrupted when I moved from Pittsburgh to Columbus three years ago. The non-profits I worked with in Pittsburgh were all local and by moving I broke my link with them.

I struggled to find my next volunteer opportunity for two years, considering one idea after another. Over Christmas my Father in Law suggested that I look into the Red Cross. This proved to be the direction I needed. Quickly I got involved with the Columbus Red Cross First Aid Service Team. So far this year I have worked providing first aid at seventeen varied events. Last week the Red Cross invited me to take additional training so that I can take a more senior position in the organization.

It is a relief to feel like I am giving back to the community. It is fun and important work that we do. Usually we are the first on the scene of injuries, accidents, and medical problems. It is a serious role that we play, which is good for me because I am a serious person. Free access to a variety of interesting events is a plus as is the appreciation people have for the help that we lend.

Ohio State vs Wisconsin - October 10, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2. Wilberforce Ohio Water Tower

1. Cedarville Ohio Water Tower

Giant Puffball Mushroom

Regular readers of this blog know that we subscribed to a CSA this year. Overall, it has not been a great experience as the quantity of the food has been way short of expectations. In addition, there have not been many surprises in the form of food that you can not normally find in a supermarket.

This week was a bit of an exception. We received some slices of a Giant Puffball Mushroom. Now, if you are thinking what the heck is a giant puffball mushroom, well I was thinking the same thing. I was a little worried that the farmer was trying to kill us all. See the picture above that I found online of what one of these mushrooms looks like. Clearly it is giant.

When eaten, it tastes like a combination between mushroom and tofu with the texture of compressed marshmallows. You can slice it and cook giant slabs. I cooked my slab like a piece of beef, adding some balsalmic vinegar, rosemary, salt, and pepper. It was quite delicious and made for a very interesting meal.