I’ve long had an unfair tendency to discount Mid-Atlantic storms. I lived there for 22 years; in that time my parents’ house in northeast Philadelphia never once flooded (except possibly due to internal plumbing issues) and never lost power more than briefly. There might have been some times when it was unpleasantly hot in the few houses with no air-conditioning (I lived in one, one college summer) or dangerously cold for someone who couldn’t afford heat, and there were certainly winter storms now and then that made driving hazardous and closed schools and offices, but all in all, it was a pretty benign climate. It was generally a bit of a joke when the news announcers would talk about a huge storm and everyone would run to the stores for milk and toilet-paper. My mom has a story from her childhood about how much fun it was to run up and down the Atlantic City Boardwalk during a hurricane, feeling the force of the wind. I’ve been through hurricanes up to Category 4, in Houston and Taiwan, and Philly never showed me anything like that.

(I’m not talking about the whole East Coast; the weather has always been much more hazardous down south, in the hurricane belt, and up north in New England where snow gets serious. Also, of course, storms are more dangerous anywhere in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding.)

This is not a smart attitude to take, and I need to get over it; for one thing, 22 years is just not enough time to know what a region’s weather is really capable of, and for another, climate instability due to global “warming” is causing a lot more storms these days. I’m glad to see that most schools and offices I’ve heard about have been sensible and announced their closures early enough to keep people off the roads. (There is nothing like being on the road or already at work and then hearing that your office is closed due to the hurricane you just drove through; this happened to me more than once in my Houston years.) I’m glad that most people seem to be staying home, with enough stocks to get through a day or two. Stay safe, y’all. Enjoy spending the time at home with each other. Those of you feeling a little stir-crazy, think about it – if the ones you care most about are right there, do you really need to get out of the house to be among strangers?

Back to the normal Paula-centered blogging, and the relatively tranquil weather here, I’m not quite sure if I was a stud or a wuss this weekend. On Sunday we were supposed to go rowing, but when we got there we realized our club was having a small informal race (they had warned us of the dates of these, but it was a while back and we lost track.) Since it’s a narrow canal and there would be lots of traffic of big boats (eights and fours) we elected to go home and use the rowing machines instead. My exercise plan called for me to do 15 km at marathon pace; I wasn’t sure if my hands would hole up for that distance anyhow but the race would have made it difficult (not impossible) to do the distance, because they were racing from 6 to 3 km away from our launching dock so it was recommended to stay within 3km of the dock. (It’s only possible to row in one direction from the dock.)

What I ended up doing was a half-marathon (21097 m, a distance that is graven on my brain) at half marathon pace. I finished in about 4 minutes slower than my PR from back in 2002. (That was 1:54:54; I’ve also completed marathons several times in somewhere around 2:55ish, most recently in 2009.) I sort of feel like a wimp for not rowing in an actual boat, but I simultaneously feel like a stud muffaletta for doing the extra distance with more intensity.

Challenges of being in a boat: works your obliques more because of the need to balance; forces greater focus on technique; builds up calluses on (or rips them off) your hands. Involves some wrestling my brains (vision-induced vertigo) and guts (IBS) into submission. Also you get to be outdoors and it was a gorgeous day – at least we had the bike ride to and from the boathouse.

Challenges of being on the erg: a rowing coach I know claims you have to overcome 25% more resistance on the erg, since there’s some pull during the recovery, which the boat doesn’t have. I would not have done the extra distance, had I been in a boat, because my hands would have been bloody, and I’d have stopped for breaks – on the erg I can take a quick drink without stopping.

I guess either way I worked out, at least. Sorry for all the technical detail, but there’s really no other way to explain it.