Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What in the world is a Haboob?

Record-breaking haboob rolling over Phoenix
Another shot of the haboob
The Ha-whats?? A haboob, according to the ever-so-reliable source, Wikipedia, is “a type of intense sandstorm commonly observed in arid regions throughout the world.” In laymen terms, a haboob is simply a dust storm. Given the fact that Arizona is a fairly arid region located in the Sonoran desert, this phenomemon has become a recent guest of the Phoenix area. In the last month, we have witnessed one of the Largest Haboobs in the state's history as well as a smaller counterpart a week later. I am not a weather expert, but my keen observation skills have led me to believe that these haboobs are signs of the monsoon season that we were warned about. I was given the pleasure of observing this haboob-monsoon combo move last week while enjoying a bowl of Pho with Stash, Ellie, and Patsy. Now one of the key components of these monsoons is rain. Yes I said rain. Rain, this also has become a foreign event to me and I almost forgot that the sky was capable of producing such moisture. The rain in Arizona does some crazy things.The ground here is about as hard as the asphalt on your driveway so when it rains, the water does not soak in but pools up and finds the lowest point it can get to....the canals.
Another haboob

In addition to the haboobs and monsoon-like rain, we have also been afforded the joy of a recent thunderstorm. At about 10:30 PM the other night, while enjoying the outset of a good night's sleep, a large bolt of lightning flashed outside. Now, everyone knows that thunder always follows lightning and one can count the seconds between the flash and the thunder to determine the distance you are to the flash. Everyone also knows that the farther away the lightning, the quieter the rumble. Not the case on this particular strike. About 7.5 seconds after the lightning flash, our apartment was rattled with the loudest crack of thunder that has every entered my ear cavity.  It was as if a bomb had gone off. After about 5+seconds of continued after-rumblings, and after the house stopped vibrating, you could hear the not-so-pleasant noise of about 10-15 car alarms going off in the parking lot. Apparantly thunder of that magnitude demands a honking ovation. A 30 minute-long ovation at that.

As previously mentioned, the rain from these thunderstorms and monsoons needs to go somewhere and that somewhere is typically the canals that are spider-webbed around the city. As I mentioned in a previous post, my new running playground is the canal that is adjacent to our apartment. I now see the value in these canals and their purpose. Although they may be dry and serve a great place to stretch my legs in the morning, they are also a great place to get really muddy after a rain storm. My runs have now been converted into a navigational challenge as I do my best to avoid the mud holes. This is obviously nearly impossible at 4 in the morning and I often give up and just trudge through the mud. Much to my wife's displeasure I might add.

So what have I learned about Arizona weather??

1. It does rain here. And when it does, it rains hard and fast and then floods.

2. A haboob is not a dirty name high school kids are calling each other these days. Although I wouldn't be surprised if it soon becomes a slang term of some sort.

3. Running in the mud isn't as fun as it was when you were a kid. There is a lot of cleanup involved and it is still a recipe to get you in trouble with the woman of the house.The only advantage that I have now, is my wife doesn't have a freezing cold garden hose to spray me with when I get home. That one's for you, mom.

Jog on Mates!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Toe....who wins??

We all know the rules to this game but who wins when you throw a fourth player, my toe, into the mix.  This is a story about an experience that I had with this very game this last week. The answer, as much as I regret to say this, is rock. I know, pretty obvious, but you never know when an underdog will prevail. In this instance, the underdog was my left, big toe and it did not prevail. This past Wednesday morning, on my morning jaunt thru the canal, I decided I wanted to do a little speed work. About 4 miles in, after a 5 minute stint at about 6:15-6:30 per mile pace, I decided that my throat needed a little saturation. As I begin the usually easy process of taking a drink of water (while running mind you), I caught my right foot on a rock. Because I do not like tumbling in the cactus and rocks I did my best to try to catch myself. One way the body naturally does this is to try to “run out” of the trip. So this is what I started to do but it wasn’t long (like .000015 seconds (just a guestimate)) that I realized that I was going down. So….I just let it happen. After dusting myself off and picking up my now muddy water bottle, I felt a slight twinge in my left toe. Thinking that I only stubbed it badly and possibly just bent the toenail back, I continue the remaining two miles back to the bike trail. This is where I typically finish my run with a 1-1.5 mile barefoot run. Upon removing my socks and shoes I realized that what I thought was a slight bending back of the toenail, was actually a complete removal of the toenail. Looked a little something like this….

Obviously I wasn’t about to put my socks and shoes back on so I just ran home that way. Leaving quite the odd looking foot prints along the way. So….the moral of this story is…don’t always bet on the underdog, or the big toe. The rock is typically going to win this one. On a better note….I finally bought some new running shoes and I think the reason I had this little mishap is because the old shoes knew that it was their last time out on the trails with me. My old Sauconys were good to me though. You can see (pic below) that they got some good use. This is the first shoe that I have literally ran the tread off of. 

Running the tread off

I am now comfortably enjoying the New Balance MT101 and am pretty sure I am love with those shoes. I have one week to get them broken in on some desert trails and then I am venturing back to Virginia for a week where I will have a few dates with trails there.

Dreaming of trail runs….Jog on mates!