On Saturday, I ran my second half marathon for the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s “Run to Stay Warm”. All the proceeds go towards a program that helps income-eligible customers who are having difficulty paying their utility bills. This race helps over 4,000 households every year, and it was great to be a part of it.
I signed up with a friend for her birthday (Happy Birthday Maria!) and went in planning to take it pretty easy. I hadn’t done much training for the race in terms of miles logged on the trails, but I felt good about my conditioning this term through swimming, biking, and ab and circuit training workouts.
In the back of my head I had an idea that I might be able to beat my first half-marathon time of 1:59:58, but when some knee pain started in at mile 4, I knew that wasn’t happening. At a few points the pain let up enough that I was able to actually race, and pass other runners, but for the most part I kept up an easy jog. The trails along the river were beautiful as always, and everybody, especially the volunteers, were fantastic.
I ended up with the somewhat disappointing time of 2:12ish, but nonetheless, I had an amazing experience. There’s just something about that 13.1 mile distance that is just perfect. You don’t have to psych yourself out thinking you have to near-sprint the entire thing like a 5k, and the distance isn’t daunting, like a marathon. All you have to do is get in your zone and simply run, keeping your pace up. PERFECT
Now after about a week and a half of resting up, I’m going straight into rehabbing my hip weakness, the cause of my continuing knee and shin pain. This time I’ll be strictly adhering to specific workouts and exercises that improve my form and mechanics, so I can get back to running faster and better as soon as possible. (Plus I’m planning on keeping up my swimming workouts through the winter)
You know how some people have that thing called free time? What is it and how do I get it? I mean, aren’t they supposed to be doing SOMETHING?
I spent my entire weekend studying. and cleaning. and what was that? oh yeah, studying some more. I had another Plants test on Monday for which we needed to know all the trees and shrubs with opposite buds, which ones are under 30’ and can fit under power lines, which ones have a yellow fall color, and which ones can survive poor soil or urban conditions. Then we needed to be able to identify, cumulatively, every plant we’ve learned this term. So I made charts, and drew diagrams of leaves, and tree forms, wrote notes about soil conditions and fall color and twigs, and then memorized all of it. Basically it took a lot of time and searching through three sketchbooks of notes. However, I think I did well on the written and identification parts, and it didn’t pour during the entire test like last time, so my paper wasn’t soaked through.
I also had another Enclosures project due Monday. Anna and I turned our living room into a drafting studio, pulled out our maylines and boards and went to work. This time we were required to design a high performance building envelope with both a brick veneer rainscreen wall with punched openings and a highly glazed window wall.
It was a little bit tricky, because we had to achieve a 2% daylighting factor in a 30’ deep space, and keep the glazed space less than 30% of the facade, to make it to code. The building also had to have ventilation louvers for night flush ventilation. A successful night flush system must be 4% of the floor area of the building. Night Flush is a way to cool structures down at night and release the heat gathered during the day from office equipment and thermal mass, like concrete floors or walls. By opening louvers or windows in the wall, you eliminate the need for air conditioning every night.
We were also required to detail an intensive green roof in section, a window jamb detail in the veneer wall, and a section of the storefront window meeting the floor. Enclosures is actually a lot of fun, because we get to combine everything we learned in Construction, Environmental Control Systems, and Structures.
On another note, after class Monday and turning in the project I had my Swimming Class, and practiced some more backstroke. Later I returned to the rec center and doubled my ab and circuit training workout to de-stress from the weekend. And I caught the last half-hour of House (I think the new doctor is going to be awesome. Quote from the show: “6…It’s my favorite constant”)
That’s about it from the last few days, though I did get some more guitar practice in, I’m finally getting some smoother chord transitions.
“…the American residential scene has been overcome by an onslaught of “McMansions.” These big footed, lumbering amalgamations of improbably chateaux and country estates can be recognized for their tendency to always inflate their public faces, like those strange lizards with the umbrella-like flaps that they unfurl around their heads when they’re frightened. These houses ape the conventions of soap-operatic affluence. They puff and preen in order to achieve maximum “curb appeal.””—On Taking the Dogleg, Val Warke
This is an essay I wrote where we were to find a landscape pattern in Eugene that conveys a sense of place and context and makes Eugene what it is.
“Any one who has to work in noise, in offices with people all around, needs to be able to pause and refresh himself with quiet in a more natural situation…People drop down from the streets and the traffic and the commerce to stroll along the river, where the mood is slow and reflective.”
I begin this essay with a quote from Christopher Alexander, the author of The Pattern Language, and more specifically the pattern titled ‘Quiet Backs’. In this pattern he describes the human need for juxtaposition between the chaos that exists in cities everywhere, and the calm that is reached while walking along a quiet path. When I think of Eugene, it isn’t the alleyways, or porches, or even the wood cladding adorning nearly every home that comes to mind. To me, these don’t say much at all about the unique group of people who call this place home. It’s the system that genuinely connects the people and key places in Eugene in a way that sends a message about Eugene’s culture, context, and values. It’s the intricate structure of the bike and walking paths, the pedestrian only zones, which bring out Eugene’s true essence.
In Eugene, the outdoors and the extensive variety of activities with which we experience it is of obvious importance. No matter how hard it’s raining and hailing, or how many times the dark sky rumbles, the people of Eugene are out on the paths, decked out in their finest rain gear and boots, spinning their pedals and pushing through their runs. These paths serve as a way to connect us, however briefly, to the river and the trees, and in turn we are connected to Springfield, the University of Oregon campus, the Wetlands and West 11th, and to Amazon Creek and it’s surrounding neighborhoods.
Nearly everywhere in Eugene, one can walk out their door and connect within minutes to this vast system. This is the place where people walk their dogs, neighbors meet, friends go on long jogs, and chance encounters occur between strangers. And because people are out of the confines of their cars and homes and offices, one really captures the feeling of what it means to live in Eugene. One minute a man with a long gray beard and hair dressed in a tie-dye t-shirt may bike by holding up the peace sign, telling you to “dig life”, and the next a group of Oregon track stars may sprint past, their faces full of focus and intent. There are groups of little old ladies speed-walking with weights, wearing sweatbands, homeless people and their dogs, and teenagers zooming by on bmx bikes.
The people of Eugene thrive on their ability to know when to take it easy, to watch the world in the present moment and really experience it, and engage the people around them on a different level than any city I’ve ever encountered. I believe this comes across best, and is in its most pure state out on the paths, away from the speed and stress of school and work. This is the place where Eugenians can be themselves.
Eugene’s paths are just as unique as the people who use them. No segment is ever the same as any other. You are constantly led through forests, along rivers and streams, past grasslands and wetlands, and beneath the shadows of the buttes. Areas of shade quickly transition into those of sun and the changing seasons are more apparent than anywhere else in Eugene. The water levels rise and fall, ash woodlands flood, trees turn brilliant colors and then fall to the ground, undisturbed by rakes and street sweepers. As the days grow shorter, there are no lights to keep the path deceptively bright, preventing you from ignoring the change.
So the paths are really about the people of Eugene, and how they remind them of their greater context within the world, something nearly all Eugene’s citizens strive for. These paths are the conduits that connect everyone who lives here, socially and culturally. The open path is the one place where you can take a deep breath, take in the nature around you, and move towards wherever you want to go.