Avoidable mistakes

A couple of weeks ago, I rolled my lawnmower out of my garage for the first time since last November.


Out of necessity. I recently hired a weed-control service to apply noxious pesticides to my yard because, while I would love for my lawn to be all organic and shit, there are some big nasty weeds that grow here in Georgia.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried. These weeds laughed at my applications of “natural” weed killer. They spat in my face when I attempted to gouge out their grippy roots. I’d slice them with my scythe, and they’d grow back knee-high overnight. At some point, it became clear that they were aiming to swallow whole the lot of expensive sod we laid down last fall. Something had to be done.

So the lawn service came, and they tucked an invoice rolled like scroll behind my front doorknob, along with a nastygram:

“Please mow your lawn before your next scheduled application. Our services will be less effective at the treatment of weeds this large.”


That afternoon, even though the grass was still brown and dormant, I dragged out my mower. The one I’d purchased less than a year ago. It was still fairly shiny and new. I yanked the ignition-string thingy. Several times. Finally, the beast rumbled and awoke…and started spewing stinky bluish smoke.


I yelped and  jumped back, releasing the safety handle. The mower shuddered and stopped. I watched, horrified, as the smelly plume drifted across the street and dissipated over my neighbors’ yards and houses. For sure, someone was going to pop out of their front door and give me a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-over-there look.

But no one did. Feeling weirdly ashamed, I ducked my head and rolled the mower back in to the garage.

In the days the followed, the weeds continued to grow. I tried to run the mower again, and again I got a face full of blue smoke. And then it stopped starting altogether. So I loaded it into the back of my car and drove it to the local hardware store, which has an in-house repair shop.

The guy there took one look at my shiny-new mower, and then one look at me, and asked:


But this guy was a master of the skeptically-arched eyebrow, and I knew what he was really asking.


Because, no. I had not drained my lawnmower before storing it for the winter. In fact, I had not even considered that I was storing it for the winter. I simply stopped using it and assumed it would work again the next time I fired it up.

So, yes. I was probably a damn fool.

$75 later, I have a fully functioning machine with a clear fuel line and carborator.  From what I can gather, they gave my poor mower the equivalent of a colon cleanse. But it works now. It irks me that I could have avoided all of this if I’d been a little more attentive and responsible, but…oh well. At least I was able to mow over my massive weeds today, leaving their juicy roots exposed for the pesticide peoples’ next visit.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, of course, it’s an awkward metaphor for my marathon situation.

As you know if you read my last post, I’m not exactly well-prepared for Boston.

I could have been well-prepared if I’d done some simple things. Like actually running. Or planning race logistics more than a few days out.

Such as: yesterday, it occurred to me that my shoes were shot. I only get ~300 miles on my PureFlows and although I haven’t been tracking my mileage, my current pair was definitely over that. On a five-miler last Sunday, I felt the concrete on every footfall.

So I bought a new pair today.


I will run in them twice, probably, before Monday’s race. Definitely not recommended. Although at least they are the same model I had before, just a different color (which I am kind of digging! ninja shoes! they are like the anti-neon).

So the shoes are an oversight…really, a symptom of a broader apathy. There is no reason I couldn’t have trained for this race. I just didn’t do it. I’m a damn fool. And at this point, no $75 repair is going to change that.

Hopefully I won’t be blowing smoke at mile three on Monday.

15 responses to “Avoidable mistakes

  1. I don’t think the shoes are going to be a make it or break it issue. Especially since they’re the same model you’re used to, I think they should fine on Monday. As for the rest of your training…just have fun on the course!

  2. Oh Honey, this is a funny and clever post!
    I know you will get thru the Boston
    and hopefully have some good memories to share.
    We will be rooting for you!

  3. My lawnmower did this after my first winter too. Note: my lawnmower did it, not my neglect… Who knew you had to “winterize” a lawn mower?!? Unlike you however I powered on through the puffs of smoke and slow chugs for another two grass-cutting seasons before it bit the dust. Perhaps I should have taken it in for a colon-cleanse.

  4. You have a gift of turning the mundane into a story. This is why you can’t stop blogging. Pleaseeeee.

  5. These are definitely the anti-neon shoes. :-) Best of luck… With the weeds and in Boston!

  6. Have fun, enjoy, and have fun!! Stop being so hard on yourself!!!!! :)

  7. I’m with SMM, don’t be so hard on yourself, if running isn’t fun anymore then you are allowed to take a break without having to feel bad about it. I always look forward to seeing that notification that you have posted again. I love your sense of humour and of course your MacPaint drawings. Here’s hoping that your blogging muse is back and that your running muse finds its way back home too after a little holiday in Boston this weekend :-)
    If it is any comfort I too learned the hard way about winterizing a lawn mower, which is pretty important here in Canada where it gets pretty freakin’ cold (apparently lawn mowers with gas in them don’t like the cold – they get cranky)

  8. MS paint. FTW!!!

  9. It’s nice to have you back to the blogging world. Good luck tomorrow!

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