I have not run since last Wednesday and for the stupidest reason ever. Even stupider than the time I strained my Achilles on the dance floor.
But before I give you the gory details, let me recap the events that lead to my condition. Boston –> Chicago Road Trip 2012.
Day 1: It’s 2:05 PM and I’m all packed for my 4 PM flight to Boston. Killing time before I need to leave, I hop online to check my flight status. It turns out that I’m an idiot and my flight actually leaves at 3PM…in 55 minutes.
After thwarting the speed limit and parking in the most expensive (read: closest to terminal) airport lot, I get to security with just enough cushion. Panting and sweaty, I call Meg to inform her that I will “probably” make my flight. We agree that the situation is pretty funny and, unfortunately, not terribly surprising.
I inquire about the status of her packing. She tells me that we’ll need to paint her apartment that night. In the dark, because all of the lamps are packed. We agree that this, too, is about par for the course. We are a mess.
Day 2: Departure from Boston!
And we drove all the way to Chicago holding a mattress on the roof! Just kidding, we were just driving it half a block to the dumpster. Working smarter, right there.
It’s late afternoon by the time we leave, so we don’t get very far. We make it just across the state line to New York, landing at the small-town home of Meg’s in-laws, who shower us with food and booze. Good people.
Day 3: …doesn’t start until almost noon. Whoops.
I go for a five-mile run and it’s postcard pretty:
And I see an herding dog actually herding sheep. Or maybe they’re goats. Bleating white creatures. I don’t know, I’m a city girl.
We lounge at the in-laws’ pool for most of the day (amazing) and finally get back on the road late in the afternoon. We’re making great time…until our brush with the law.
Officer: “Is it just you two and the dog?”
Oh no, there are three more people and a sheep/goat in the trunk, officer…
Officer: “Do you realize I clocked you going 80 miles an hour?”
Sir, have you seen our vehicle? A ten-year-old Hyundai Elantra? With the check engine light on? Are we even capable of going that fast?
We proceed at a considerably slower speed to the fine city of Buffalo – well, Buffalo Adjacent. Tired and grimy from our day of pool lounging, we bypass the Chippewa street bars and Niagara casinos in favor of a pet-friendly Econolodge on the edge of town.
We ask about nearby dining options, and the clerk highly recommends “The Warehouse,” which is conveniently located at the back of the motel parking lot.
Really? A place called The Warehouse adjacent to an Econolodge with a bunch of semi trucks parked outside…and you’re telling me it isn’t a strip club?
Nope, as it turns out, just a sports bar. And the food is not bad.
When in Buffalo…
And I have some beer that I probably don’t need, but let’s face it: my diet has consisted mostly of Chex Mix and Sour Patch Kids and Diet Coke for the last three days. Not exactly a banner week for nutrition.
With full bellies, we wander back to our room. We’re on the ground floor at the back of the motel, facing a storage facility that looks like a good place to cook up some meth.
At least we have Stewie the redheaded terrier to protect us.
(As long as you don’t interrupt his 23 hours a day of sleeping, that is. Most adorably lazy dog I have ever met.)
Day 4: Otherwise known as the day we shall conquer Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
But ten minutes back on I-90 and that damn engine light…starts flashing. And the transmission gets all jerky if you try to speed up or slow down.
I’m riding shotgun, so I fish around in the glove compartment until I find the owner’s manual, which offers no guidance other than to “consult an authorized Hyundai dealer.”
Meg and I exchange a look. We are more likely to consult a pay-per-minute psychic than we are to consult an authorized Hyundai dealer. I pull out my phone and turn to Google Mechanic.
Within twenty minutes, I’ve confidently diagnosed our problem (catalytic convertor – duh), identified the risks of ignoring it, and researched the replacement cost of the part.
“Listen to this!” I exclaim, and begin to quote from the totally legitimate and 100% factual message board I’m reading: “Sometimes, the problem can be resolved by running the engine for a long period of time under a heavy load, causing the buildup to effectively burn itself off.”
Long time, heavy load? We’ve been leadfooting for three days now and the car is packed to the gills with shit. We’re golden.
We pass through Cleveland, my onetime home, and I wave hello to Jacobs Field-slash-whatever the hell they’re calling it now. Go Tribe!
And onward we press to our destination: Chesterton, Indiana…home of the world famous Indiana Dunes.
Finally, we get to break out the camping gear!
Meg sets up camp while I take a quick trip back to town for firewood, a flashlight, hot dogs, and a box of wine. (The latter being “strictly prohibited” by the campground, but…WTF, Indiana? Who camps sober?)
And now the car is working fine. The check engine light is still on, but it’s no longer flashing, and the weird jerky-transmission thing is gone. We fixed it! By being nonchalant and irresponsible, we fixed it! Hooray for us.
So we celebrate by sitting around the fire talking for several hours, which is quite remarkable considering that we had already been talking nonstop for the entire week. (Seriously: we didn’t turn on the car radio once during this trip. We just talked. This is why Meg will always be one of my best friends.)
Anyway. If you’re still with me here, I’m finally getting to the part of this story where I get the dumbest injury in the history of injuries.
I’m giving you a scroll down warning here, because these pictures are disgusting.
Those are mosquito bites. On our night of camping, I had (responsibly, so I thought) donned jeans and a sweatshirt so I wouldn’t get eaten alive. But I was wearing flip-flops and, uh, wasn’t wearing gloves…so the little shits just attacked my hands and feet instead.
My right foot happens to be the worst, although both feet and hands are pretty chewed up. Bites cover the tops of my feet and all of my toes and wrap around the inside of my arch. In places, you can’t even pick out individual bites – it’s just one continuous welt.
My right foot is so swollen it won’t fit in any of my shoes. Walking (even just around the house) rubs the bites, especially the ones on the underside of my arches, and makes them itch desperately and puff up like shitty little marshmallows over a campfire. Heat and sweat makes the whole situation ten times worse. Obviously, running is out of the question.
And holy hell, it itches. The only thing that stops the itching is a regimen of ice baths, calamine lotion, and oral antihistamine. So I spent most of the weekend on the couch, doing just that.
Okay, I’ll stop with the pictures. Sorry.
At one point when I was bored on the couch and applying calamine for the six hundredth time, I tried to count the number of bites on my right foot. There are at least 100.
I really don’t even know what to say about this. I’ve always been allergic/reactionary when it comes to bug bites, and am often the person in a group who gets disproportionately bitten, but…this is just insane. (Meg had some bites too, but just a handful: a normal amount you’d expect to endure on a one-night camping trip.)
Also: it’s not like I’ve never been camping before. I’m a pretty outdoorsy person. I’ve camped all over the country. I’ve never experienced anything like this. (I actually have a routine physical scheduled this week and will definitely ask my doctor about it…and possibly get tested for West Nile Virus.)
Anyway…that’s my excuse for last week’s paltry mileage. I realize it sounds ridiculous to say I can’t run because of my mosquito bites. But…I can’t run because of my mosquito bites.
Dumbest injury ever.
And, unlike Meg’s plucky little Hyundai, I don’t think it’s going to be fixed by running for a long time under a heavy load.