It's a Wild Ride

It's 4:49 a.m. My alarm goes off and I hop off of the couch, where I have been sitting and reading. I wash my breakfast dishes, grab my lunch and use the bathroom one last time and then I put on my helmet and grab my bike and my backpack and walk out the door.

It's about 2 miles from my house to the train station. Luckily, in the morning, it's mostly downhill. I put on my bike light, hike up one leg of my pants and start pedaling. You never know what you are going to see on the streets of Oakland at 5 a.m. There are not too many cars, which is good because that means I can buzz through most of the intersections without slowing down too much. There are sometimes people, but they are mostly like me, heading to work in the dark of the night.

Except for one corner which is near the train station. This corner is a bit different that the others. Women hang around in short skirts; men in trucks slow to a crawl as they pass. It's usually pretty quiet though; I pedal through with no problems.

I reach the train station in about 7 minutes. I constantly try to break the 7 minute time and have only done it once. It all depends on how I hit the traffic lights and how many cars there are that I have to avoid. I get there around 5:07, lock up my bike and hop on the train to work.

In the afternoon, the same journey takes about 12 minutes. From the station, I have to ride uphill and generally its around 4 or 5 pm. I have to stop at every intersection, sometimes for 2 or 3 minutes. There are cars to avoid, as well as people, broken glass, a lone shoe and a condom. It's hot and the traffic is busy and I swerve around old ladies and kids on skateboards. It's a whole different world. I can see everything.

I get home, hop off my bike and push it into my living room, where it lives. I do everything in reverse: walk in the door, backpack off, helmet off, put my lunch in the sink and use the bathroom one more time.

Note: I have been commuting by bike to the train station for a few months now and am really loving the view I am getting of the world this way. Plus a little extra exercise using different muscles never hurts!

How do you get to work? Do you ever walk or ride a bike? What interesting things have you seen while cycling? 


Looking Back: September

September! Back to school days and leaf raking days; new pencils and old friend days; putting on pants and jelly making days. Early sunset nights and late sunrise days. Soup days and boot days. Crisp air and fog days.... What does September mean to you?

Running: I clocked just over 100 miles this month, which is better than last month! However, I did not get the same amount of hiking in, so the total "time on feet" was less. Instead, I have been focusing more on my strength training, and am doing a twice a week strength training regime rather than so much running. This month's totals were 45 miles of hiking, 53 miles of biking and 9 strength training sessions.

Reading: This was a good reading month quantity-wise, but only so/so quality-wise. I ended up reading 9 books and two half books (couldn't finish/had to put down)! My favorites were these four:

Farewell to the East End: The Last Days of the East End Midwives
Station Eleven
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Travel: My vacation spanned two separate months, so September marked the end of my trip to Europe. The first week of the month included a relaxing soak in a thermal bath, some hiking in the Alps of Switzerland, more cheese and bread and wine, and a trip to see a very old friend of mine, who had been an exchange student in my tiny high school when I was growing up. She lives near Geneva and so I not only got to see her house and to meet her husband and children, but I also traveled with her to her parents house in the mountains, where I got to meet the whole family, hike in the snow and drink Schnapps. It was a fun time all around!

Swiss cows are friendly!

After I returned, I spent a bit of Hobbit time doing things around the house, visiting local friends, going out for drinks with the work mates, cooking, shopping and eating and generally just catching up on life. I still have a mountain of items on my To Do list, but I am checking them off little by little! Unfortunately, new ones keep popping up!

And....Beer: New category! You know how you try things, such as beer, or wine or a new recipe, and then when you go to get another or make another, you can't remember the name or the website? Well, to prevent that, I am trying to remember to log things better and to write them down. So, the new beer I tried in September that I liked was: Fieldwork's Torrential Double IPA (website here).

What do you have on your To Do List? What new beer have you tried lately? What happened in your September worth mentioning? 


Looking Back: August

From here on out, this space will be called the "looking back" space. Before I go on, I am looking forward to Fall! Okay, now I am not just all about looking back. August is always a busy month: Last year I studied for and passed a licensing exam, took a vacation and still managed to run 189 miles (phew). This year was a lot less study, but was still packed solid every weekend of the month!

Running: For the first time in a long time, in August I dropped below 100 miles. My heart (brain/legs, etc) is just is not in it. My total for the month was about 85 miles of running. However, I am still loving the outdoors! August also brought 40 miles of cycling, 109 miles of hiking, 21 miles of walking, 1 open water swim, 1 kayak trip and 1 hour of strength training. All in all, this equals about 256 miles of "activity." I will take what I can get!

Reading: I read 4 books, and none of them really knocked my socks off.... The best two were probably The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

Travel: Not a lot of running; not a lot of reading...but there was a lot of travel. There were 5 weekends in August and I spent them in 5 different places: Yosemite, Humboldt County (redwoods), Taylorsville (Dad's first half marathon), Milan and Chamonix (UTMB). Due to all of this, I have added a new category, which I will move on to now...

Family, Friends and Food: August really is "family, friends and food" month. The first weekend was a great trip to the lesser known regions of Yosemite park, aka, not the valley, where I spent some time camping and running with friends. The next weekend was another camping trip, but this time it was in the opposite direction, north along the coast, into the redwoods. It was great hanging out with the "in-laws" and my brother while swimming, playing catchphrase and drinking plenty of cold beer.

View of Half Dome from North Dome

The next weekend was ANOTHER camping trip, this time with the whole fam damily, and when I say whole, I mean three (or four?) generations of crazy, dirty, active, fun and loud family members. It was a side of the family that I don't see as often, and it was a lot of fun! My dad ran his first half marathon and kicked some major butt in the process (first in his age group and 7th overall)!!

Dad after his "Running of the Bears" win

After that, it was off to Europe for my annual vacation, where I ate baguettes and cheese, drank wine, hiked in the Alps, cheered on my friend at UTMB and in general had a lot of fun and time exploring the outdoors. I tired myself out so much, that I never even had time to read the 10 books (or even 4!) that I brought with me on my Kindle. Every night was a good night's sleep and I woke up each day ready for another adventure. Now I am busy resting from my vacation....just kidding! It's been straight back to the old grind with no easing in!

So...how was your August? What annual summer traditions do you have? Are you ready for Fall yet? 



There is nothing special about today, but I thought I would do a midweek TGIF regarding the past 7 days!

The high of my week was a trip north to the redwoods with my brother and his girlfriend's family. We had a good time hiking, playing games and hanging out, and on the way home we stopped and took a nice dip in the Russian river to top off the weekend.

The low of my week was a bit of a crazy busy workweek last week along with some ongoing work drama.

A book I am reading is The Boys in the Boat, except that I got the hardback from the library and then left it at home since I have been riding my bike to work and it is actually due today, so I am not going to finish it until I check it out again.

A podcast I am listening to is the Freakonomics issue of "how to create suspense". It is interesting, as they talk about how there is a perfect number of plot twists or surprises in a book or movie in order to keep people interested.

A workout I did was this Fitness Blender workout. They have a TON of different workouts on YouTube and you can also go to their site and search by workout length, calorie burn or intensity. I have been doing one to two of the 30 - 40 minute HIIT workouts per week and I have been enjoying them!

The best money I spent was probably my mortgage. I know, it's not exciting, but it sure is no joke!

My plans for the weekend include going up to my parent's neck of the woods for some camping and to see my dad run his first half marathon!

Happy Tuesday! What was the high point of your last 7 days? 


Looking Back: July

Looking back at this blog, I noticed that I am generally posting only a couple times a month, one of them being the "looking back" theme. Ah, well, such is life!! Just like everything, blogging and/or writing comes and goes and right now, I am happy with life and feel that I am getting things done, even if it doesn't include keeping up with this space! I do miss the connection that I have with many other bloggers, but I am keeping an eye on many of your blogs, even if I am not commenting!!

And now, welcome August; goodbye July.

Running: July was supposed to be a bit of a higher month for me. However, it ended up being one of my lowest months in a very long time. Lack of training, an injury and an unfinished race (sad recap to follow) meant that in July I ended up running only about 106 miles. On a good note, I started riding my bike to the BART each morning and afternoon. It's only about 1.8 miles each way, but it adds up to about 15 - 20 miles a week of biking. In addition, I am starting a 2 x per week HIIT class, which are about 30 - 45 minutes each.


Reading: You can see the skew and maybe the reason my mileage was low when I tell you that this month I read 11 books. Okay, really I read 10 and a half. I started the Bone Clocks and just could not get into it, so I set it down half way. Some of my favorites were:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

Travel: I started the month off in central Oregon, on our annual "girls trip", which includes my friend, her two daughters and her Mom, except this year it was also her dad, her brother and her sister's family, which included three kids and a husband. It was a loud, crazy houseful but it was a lot of fun. I even took the boys trail running with me twice and they enjoyed the change of scenery (they are road runners and cyclists). I also went to Tahoe for TRT.

Otherwise: My other two weekends were spent painting and sorting and organizing around the house and then finally having a housewarming party, which was a hit. It was fun to finally get all the friends together, especially since there were some friends I haven't seen in a while, due to all the running and working and home stuff. I ended up having a lot of extra beer, but I am sure I can find a home for it!

If you came to my housewarming party, what kind of drink would you bring? What book should I put on the library wait list? 


The Big One Elizabeth

Eleanor Roosevelt said to, "Do something every day that scares you". 

In less than 24 hours, I will be toeing the line of the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile trail race. I would like to say I am totally prepared, because usually I am good at planning and setting goals and executing those goals. However, this time, that has not been the case. I can make all kinds of excuses, but the bottom line really is the fact that I re-prioritized my free time and running took second seat to several other things in my life. 

I am scared, Eleanor. 

Flume Trail in Winter

Marlette Lake in Winter

When I signed up for this race last December, I was in my running prime. I had just placed in both a 50 mile race and a 50k race. I was ramping up my training and I was running up the hills with gusto! I had thoughts in my mind that I may try to place in a very important 100k in March and that maybe I would even get a sub 28 hour at TRT. 

Then I got injured, ramped up my hours at work, bought a house and started drinking heavily. Okay, that last part is a joke, but seriously, I started eating worse, exercising less and in no time at all, it was July and I had not even completed half of my necessary training.

What will this mean for me tomorrow? 

To start off, I am going into this with the thought in my mind that it is just a really long two day hike. The cutoff time to finish this race is 35 hours. Even the very fast guys do it in no less than 18. To finish in 35 hours, I would need to keep my pace just under 3 miles an hour. So, I could walk a lot of it and still finish in time. 

I may be walking a lot of it. 

I plan to start off at a run and see how far I get. There are a few gradual downhills which I know I can jog no matter what (even during the 2nd 50 miles). There are a couple steep uphills (think 1.5 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing) where I will barely make 1 - 2 miles per hour. 

What worries me the most? 

Of course I am competitive and I would like to do well, but I have mostly thrown that out the window. I just want to finish. However, the part which will be the most difficult will be the night portion. During the night, there is a loop called the Red House Loop, which is a 6 mile loop with about a 2 mile steep downhill (loss of about 1,000 feet) and then a 4 mile gradual to steep uphill. This loop is not fun in the daytime and it will be even less fun at night. 

The race motto is, "A Glimpse of Heaven; a Taste of Hell". The Red House Loop is the taste of Hell. 

On the other hand, there are many Glimpses of Heaven. So I will enjoy those and not think too much about the tastes of Hell. 

If you want to follow me, I will be running from Saturday at 5 am PST to Sunday around Noon (*cutoff is at 4 pm). The live tracker is HERE. Also, my brother will be pacing me and should be tweeting when possible (the service in the mountains is not great). You can find his twitter feed HERE Otherwise, just send good juju my way this weekend because I will need it! 

What are you up to this weekend? 


Looking Back: June

June was a whirlwind of a month full of good friends and some travel and lots of money hemorrhaging! Yup, you heard me right. June was not a happy month for my pocketbook, but it was a good month for friends. 

Running: I would like to say that my training was going well and that I am totally ready for my 100 mile race in a couple of weeks, but I would be lying. June was not a great training month, although I did try to step it up a little in order to feel semi ready for the big day. In June I had no races, but I did end up running 136 miles in the end. 

Reading: While I was not running, I did read a few (four, to be exact) books. None of them were that great. They were, in order of best to worst: 

- At Home by Bill Bryson (I did not finish this one -- it was good but there were a lot of facts and I was in the mood for a more frivolous book - 3 stars)
- The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (3 stars)
- Mother Daughter Me by Katie Hafner (2 stars)
- Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch (2 stars)

Travel: I did a lot of travel in June and much of it was in cars with other people, hence the reason I did not read as much, I think. At the beginning of June, I went to San Diego to crew/pace for a friend who was running a 100 mile race. I paced him in from mile 79 to the finish and he ended up getting 10th place! The next weekend was spent in South Lake Tahoe, doing trail work and a training run. I had a chest cold and the altitude really exacerbated that fact. It was really hard to run! The weekend after that I drove up to my parents' house to get some things from storage. It was a fun weekend with a lot of swimming and a run, but too soon it was time to load up the car and head home. The last weekend in June was spent crewing for a friend who ran the Western States 100M. He was such a champ and it was so inspiring (and daunting, thinking of myself doing the same thing in July) to see him push through and cross the finish line with pride. 


On top of that, my new category should be titled Home and Garden because there has not been a day that I have come home from work and just relaxed. There is always something to shovel, or to weed or to plant. There are things to be hung and cleaned and sorted. There is never an end to the things that need to be assembled or moved or painted. Basically I have been going to bed around 10 every night and getting up again at 4. There have been multiple trips to Costco and Home Depot and Target. I am a frequent flyer at Amazon.com. It's been busy! 

So....how was the month of June for you? What was your favorite weekend? Have you read any good books lately?