Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dogs are the Best!

Struth and me after a longish evening run.

This week in the news, among many sad events, was this story on the bust of a puppy mill here in my own state of Washington.
This is so heartbreaking. Be sure to hug your dog today, or your friend's dog, in appreciation of all the great things dogs bring to the lives of many people. Struth got extra biscuits and no bath!

In other news, it is snowing again. But nothing quite like last month. The ski mountains actually got fresh snow. I haven't been skiing once this season. Part of that is due to my main skiing partner being gone this season for work and part of that is due to an increasing fear of skiing injury. When I was 15, I spiral fractured my tibia and fibula and was on crutches for nearly a year. 2 operations later, my leg works great and I am able to do all the physical activities I like to do without consequence to that accident. Admittedly, I have a fear of a skiing injury that grows each year. As the saying goes, when you fall off a horse, get right back on it, immediately. However, when you have to wait many years to get back on due to surgeries and healing time, it makes it mentally tougher. The fear factor remains high for me and to this day, skiing is bitter-sweet.

Enough doom and gloom, this past weekend I had an awesome run with dogs and people.
Struth and his buddies Brutus and Ella joined in with Michelle, Deb, Kathleen and our token male, Owen. We ran the TMT at Tiger for about 4-1/2 hours through snow and a pretty big landslide on southeast side of Tiger. The snow was not deep but it was amazing that in less than one week, the conditions were drastically different. On MLK Day, it was sunny, warm, no gloves required. But this past Sunday, less than one week later, gloves, hat, multiple layers and partially frozen hydration packs were the reality. Not much stopping and chatting because the temperature did not allow. I don't know if my fingers ever were warm, but I did manage to snap a few photos, of course. I had made peanut butter chocolate chips cookies (without salmonella) for after. Cookies were a strong motivator to get back to the warm car. Michelle picked out the route, I had never run some of these sections and it was a welcomed change to be on different trails. Here's some photo highlights!the start

some climbing

quick stop

It's always slower running in snow

Landslide...this was the trail....

Our token male...
After cookies!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Capitol Peak (less than) Mega Fat Ass

Yesterday was the Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass. However, the course was re-routed due to snow. So instead of 34 miles with 2 climbs to the peak, the run was 30 miles without going to the peak ever. Having never run the MEGA before, I didn't know what I was about to miss. Some said it was the easiest MEGA ever, but what I thought was challenging is that the course was totally run-able and so I ran trails for 5 hours straight, that tired me out. I walked less than a mile.

The run started at 8 AM. It was still dusk-like but no headlamps needed. It was definitely cold, but the forecast was sunny skies and warm winter temperatures. It was great seeing so many friends at the start line. Struth was very excited to see his canine buddies as well, especially Brutus. I knew Michelle and Deb were only running one lap so my plan was to run the first lap with them and then see how I could hang on in the second loop. We started off with Michelle leading the gravy train which included Eric and Steve and of course Deb. Then somehow, Eric and Steve were not there but other people who would just fly by us like they had wings attached to their shoes. Michelle did a great job at keep a steady speedy pace. We ran mostly single track through lots of mud and cold creeks. There was hardly any snow and not many trees down. Some of the mud was pretty thick and slimy and it was fun to slide right across the mud hoping to stay vertical. I was experiencing some stomach "troubles" but I was in the middle of the train so I didn't want to pull over. Once we got to the logging road and headed downward, I knew it was time to address my stomach issues. I hing back while Michelle, Deb and 2 others flew down the logging road. I was hoping to catch up but if not, I had my iPOD. As I started running up the logging road, I heard Van yelling that I was going the wrong way. Lucky I did not have my iPOD in yet...potential disaster averted. I called for Michelle and the gang, but they did not hear me. So I just kept going and yelling their names. When I got to the aid station/finish line/loop check-in, I saw Michelle there...phew, I was worried they might be lost. I checked in at 2:31. I mulled about the aid station for a minute or two and then headed back out...just Struth and I. Time for the iPOD. The second loop was almost like doing and entirely different loop. I was so busy talking and listening the first loop that I didn't really pay attention to the terrain. The course was well marked, so I had no trouble finding the right way...despite being directionally challenged. I was felling pretty good still and didn't stop at any of the watering holes and only took one photo.

I was wishing I took more photos because it was so beautiful. The sun came out, some fog stayed in certain areas, the trees were tall and skinny and the back round music was the evidence of the shooting range within the very same park we were running,(another good reason to stay on course). Struth and I were having a blast. He was running around more than usual, probably because he had never been there before and there were so many spots to smell and ponder if that indeed would be a good place to leave his mark. I spent quite a lot of time calling his name and making sure I could hear his jingle. At one point, as I looked back for him, I slipped in the mud and fell right on my butt. It didn't hurt, but I knew I had a big mud spot on my butt. Lovely. As I approached the logging road, I knew I was getting pretty close to the end. I knew not to make the same mistake and continue up the logging road. The last couple miles were tough. I had run out of water and I was parched. I didn't feel like eating anything that was easily accessible to me as I didn't have water to wash it down. My stomach was still dysfunctional and I was hungry. It was one of the few times that I actually wanted a gel. But in order to get one, I would have had to take my pack off and I was not in the mood. With one mile left, I ran as hard as I could to the finish line knowing that there would be water there. Thankfully, Struth stayed with me and I didn't not have to keep looking back and fall on my butt again. Came to the finish line in 5:02, exactly 2:31 minutes after I left meaning that I ran even split the run. I was surprised by this, I thought I'd be slower. I guess not stopping to take photos and getting gels out of my pack saved me some time. What a fun run!
After, we all sat around eating and drinking in the sun....

It turned out to be a warm sunny day.

I slept well last night and woke up to sunny skies and more warm winter temperatures. This are rare occasions in the Seattle winter months. I took advantage of this by going to the Sculpture Park with Jeanine and Struth and hanging out in the sun by the water. Awesome day....awesome weather....awesome company!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Won the Lottery!

...Along with about 350 others. We all collect our lottery winnings on May 2nd at Miwok 100K! When I entered the lottery, I thought for sure I would not get in. And in all honesty, I hadn't really thought that much about it after I signed up. Early Saturday morning I get a text, then another text saying...'WE ALL GOT IN!'. WooHoo. . . . .

So now, it's time to focus. I have a concrete goal that's set in motion and I'm devising a plan to get me ready.
Jess has been amazing at kicking my butt in these "WODS" she learns at Crossfit. They are real confidence builders..
The other day I did not think I would finish the WOD. Among other things, there was 50 pull ups. Mind you, these are assisted. After about 20, I thought I would never be able to do 30 more. And that was only the first of many 50 of this or that. But I made it through and although I could not lift my arms the next day, I had built my confidence up way more than any muscle. I think these kinds of workouts, the spin class and running more miles will set me up quite nicely for Miwok. I'm very excited.

Now I have to decide if I will do Cascade Crest

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I have starting formulating a schedule for myself of which races I want to do and how I am going to train for them. Sometimes, it just depends if you can get into the race you want and if you don't, what's the back up plan. As I was figuring out what I would do differently this year, I thought I'd focus more on my weaknesses instead of doing the same old, same old. I started taking a spin class on a weekly basis. I've seen those biker dudes float up a big climb seemingly with no effort and so I thought...why don't I take a spin class and maybe some of that will rub off on me and I will become a stronger climber. While that is yet to be seen, what can be deduced is that I think these classes are HARD. The first class I took was demoralizing. I was wobbling out of the class on a pair of rubber bands. The next few classes I tried to "hover over the seat". I think today was the first time I came close to that, so progress is being made. Next, we'll see how that effects my climbing abilities in trail running. Capital Peaks Mega Fat Ass is coming up in a few weeks and I'll test my skills out. I have never been one to take classes at a gym, but this instructor plays great music, he's funny and he seems to be a great cyclist and I've learned some by just watching him. All that makes up for the fact that it starts at 6:15 AM.

In the meantime, I continue to run in the winter conditions which aren't bad if I can take it one run at a time. I cannot focus on how cold it is or lately how snowy it is. It's all an adventure and the weather adds to that adventure. So do the dark mornings and the early evenings. I have had some great adventures in the past few weeks and here are some highlights.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009. I remember reading science fiction books that took place in the 21st century and it's hard to believe that we live in that very same century. Things seemed so bleak as told by the authors. A world with unnecessary gadgets that took place of what humans could do and should do themselves. A world where there wasn't much human interaction because of curfews or deadly air. Or perhaps a world of interaction between humans and extraterrestrials. With exception to the last projection, all these ideas seem so pessimistic. In all honesty, it can be a little too easy to be pessimistic. The world seems so complicated sometimes. There is a depressed economy, people are losing their jobs, their lives to war, people continue to find ways to make money off other people with no regard as to how that may effect them, (damn credit card companies, mortgage lenders...!). Torture done to people and animals, the environment. Shall I go on....NO!
Since I was stuck here in Seattle for the holidays because of the weather, I decided that whatever happened during the days I was here and not visiting my family, I would pay close attention to. I thought maybe I would hear something, see something, experience something that would have a profound effect on me. It seemed my fate to go see my family was redirected and so what was that meant to bring me?
Well, you know what happened? I had a really good time. I listened to radio programs while I baked cookies and breads and cakes, I cooked, I spent time reading and laying around with Struth, I went to movies, I walked in the snow, I spent time with friends, I made some art. These things I did in addition to running the usual miles. I had time to do the things that I don't usually prioritise to that degree. As I looked back on those days, I thought...did anything stand out? Was there something that happened or didn't happen that was suppose to direct me somewhere? Hell no. What happened is that I had more time to do more of the I like to do and still get some rest in. What does this all mean? It means, in 2009, I'd like to make sure I get in some more of these fun things on a regular basis. In 2009, I don't want to get so tired that my world gets too small and I don't try to new things. I have 360 days to try this out, WooHoo! I did miss my family though....

In the meantime, here's a link to the snow-magedon in Seattle.