7.17.2015

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? 

7.08.2015

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. 

SD100


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? 

6.11.2015

Looking Back: May

The fact that this post is being done on June 11th pretty much indicates how my month of May/June have been going. I feel like I am swimming underwater and I have not really had time to come up for air...however, it has been fun and full of friends and family and stuff, so I am not complaining! 

Running: May was a very strange running month for me. I seem to have lost my mojo. However, I had two races: one 100k in San Jose and one 50 mile race in Reno. Due to this, I still ended up with a good amount of miles. I also wen to Yosemite NP and Rocky Mountain NP for some hiking with my family and with Lisa, so I am adding these miles as well. Totals for the month were: 167 miles of running + 36 miles of hiking. 

Reading: I read 5 books this month, mostly on my commute. This keeps me on track to read 52 books this year, or at least one a week. Here they are, in order of best to worst: 

The Rosie Project (4 stars)
The Invention of Wings (4 stars)
Still Life With Breadcrumbs (4 stars)
Where'd You Go Bernadette (3 stars)
Boy, Snow, Bird (2 stars)

Travel: I feel like May was a month of never sitting still. The first weekend I went to Yosemite with my family for some hiking and good times. The second weekend was the Quicksilver 100k in San Jose, where I had a great time running and hanging out with friends. The third weekend was Reno on Saturday and to a Mother's Day/Birthday brunch on Sunday. The fourth weekend was a trip to Auburn for some running with friends (and then I came back to the Bay Area and spent the rest of the weekend moving). The last weekend (hurray for a 5 weekend month!) was spent in Colorado, hiking with Lisa and visiting Jill. Whew, it makes me tired just typing it all out! 

Last but not least.... the reason I have been so out of touch is that I bought a house. The past several months have been a flurry of searching for houses, going to open houses, putting offers on houses, getting turned down, trying again, and then finally...one got accepted. Then it was a flurry of escrow, inspections, paperwork and such. Then it was a flurry of moving and sorting and measuring and spending money and cleaning. 

Currently things have calmed down a bit. I am "settled", which basically means I have a place to sleep and a roof over my head, but there is a list of things to do about a mile long, which is keeping me busy. 

How was your month of May? Have you traveled anywhere in the past month? What book would you recommend to me for June? 

5.08.2015

Fizzy Friday

At work we always call Fridays "fizzy Friday", since the end of the week has the normal everyday tasks as well as the wrap up tasks for the week. It is a day where unfortunately it is usually hard to get off early. Everyone is excited for the weekend and the energy level is high. This can be good if the energy is directed to the right place, or it can be a bit chaotic if it is not.

The high of my week was hard to determine. I spent the weekend + Monday in Yosemite, hiking and hanging out with my family, which was great. I also had some very good news regarding my secret project, which I will have to tell you about soon! It's been a good week!

The low of my week was the drive back from Yosemite, which was long. However, I am not very well versed in all of the Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 songs that are being played on the radio.

The book I am reading is Still Life with Breadcrumbs and Boy, Snow, Bird. I generally take my Kindle on my commute with me and read a hard back book at home. Both are okay, and I am about half way through them.

For my workouts, I completed a hike/run in Yosemite on Saturday, I hiked to Half Dome on Sunday and a hike and a walk in Yosemite on Monday and nothing the rest of the week. I have a race tomorrow and I have been "resting" for the race.

The best money I spent was for Yosemite: campground, park entry, car rental, gas and food.

My weekend plans include a trail race tomorrow and some errands, shopping, packing, sorting and organizing on Sunday.

What book are you reading? What was the high of your week? 

5.01.2015

Looking Back: April

Dear May. You are my favorite month. You are the month of flowers and of long days spent outside where it is just the right temperature. You are the month of my birth, mother's day and a long weekend. You are a month full of road trips and races and friends and family. I am ready for you. Bring it on.

Dear April. You were sweet, but it's time we part until next year. There have been fun times. Let's remember them fondly.

Running: The month started off with the Lake Sonoma 50 miler. Then I had a 7 day rest before running another race, which was a loop course and was boring as heck. Otherwise, I did not really run much, as I was basically "tapering" rather than doing what I am supposed to do, which is to be training for the big daddy in July. However, due to two long races, I ended up running about 150 miles. This is unconfirmed because my Garmin has decided to either eat my run completely, poop out in the middle of the run, or refuses to upload onto the computer. 

Reading: While not running as much, I did end up reading 7 books this month. I also started maybe 3 that I only got half way on and then put down. The books were (in order of best to worst):

All the Light we Cannot See (5 stars)
At the Water's Edge (3 stars)
Tiny Beautiful Things (3 stars)
We are All Completely Beside Ourselves (3 stars)
The Book of Unknown Americans (3 stars)
The Life List (3 stars)
All the Bright Places (3 stars)

Travel: Besides traveling for the two race weekends, I also went to Jackson Hole for some hiking (in the snow) and to NYC for a work trip, where I also met up with some friends for the weekend. Basically I was not home very much on the weekends this month! I would like to say that May will be quieter, but that is not true, as I have something planned for every weekend. In fact, as I write this, I am preparing to go to Yosemite. Vive le spring and summer!

And there you have it in a nutshell. There have been some other things going on which have pretty much consumed any and all of my free time in the past couple of months, but I cannot talk about it yet. Once it's over, I will definitely have a lot to say, but for now, mum's the word. Stay tuned.

Also, sorry I have been slack on commenting on your posts! I am there, lurking on Feedly, but not commenting. I will be back in a month or so, don't worry.... 

Did your month of April go by fast or slow? What month is usually your busiest? What book should I pick up at the library next?

4.13.2015

Gorge Waterfall 100k

A couple of weekends ago, a group of us traveled up to Portland for the Gorge Waterfall race. This race had two distances: 50k and 100k. The 100k is an out and back with about 12,000 feet of climbing. Some of my friends and I ran the 100k on Saturday and Broski ran the 50k on Sunday. We flew up on Thursday night after work and spent Friday drinking beer at FatHeads Brewery (carb loading), shopping at Powells and wandering around the city. We got an apartment in the Hawthorne district, which was a walkable area with lots of restaurants and things to do. We had dinner very early (around 5) on Friday at Thanh Thao restaurant (Vietnamese/Thai) because our race started at 4 a.m. on Saturday and we wanted to get to bed early.

Race morning we got up at 2 a.m., had breakfast, and drove the the start line at Benson State Park. We got there so early that we had time to see the early start at 3 a.m. and to use the bathroom a few times. It was pretty chilly, maybe around the high 40s, so we huddled next to the bathroom for a while trying to stay warm before the race started. Before we knew it, it was nearly 4 and it was time to get going.

The race started off with a tiny flat portion and then it was an immediate long uphill slog. I think the first climb was about 1500 feet over 2 miles or something like that. It was partly paved at first and then was dirt/rocks for the last mile or so. Then we started to go downhill, and it was a beast. The trail was rocky, full of roots and some of the rocks were not separate smaller rocks, but one big multi pointed chunk which covered the entire trail. It was wet and it slippery and it was very slow going, especially since it was dark. The other thing was that on one side of us was a drop off, but we could not tell how much of one since it was dark. Finally the rock gave way to a downhill paved path and we could finally speed up the pace a bit. I passed quite a few people on this section.


Once we got to the bottom of this hill, we got to the first aid station (No Name - 6 miles in), which was pretty bare bones. Then we started doing a lot of rolling hills on a single track trail for maybe 5 more miles. The next section was about 3 miles of pavement! I was not really happy about this part, as (1) it hurts and (2) I knew I would have to come back this way since it was an out and back course! The only good part about this section was that it was starting to get light. At mile 13, we got to the Yeon aid station, where I gobbled down a banana and hit the road again.

It was finally light and the next 10 miles or so had a bunch of waterfalls and things to look at. However, the trail was often rocky, causing more slow running and/or walking than I would have liked. I even had to walk some on flat sections, as the footing was very shaky. Somewhere in this section, I felt one of my toes starting to have a hot spot and I knew this was going to be an issue. I got to the Cascade Locks aid station at mile 22, which was where my drop bag was, and I took off my shoes to have a look. Sure enough, I had a blister. I lubed up my feet, taped up the blister, put my socks back on and hit the road again.

Rocky Road -- Photo Credit: Broski

From here, the trail had a pretty long uphill climb before heading back down to the turnaround point at mile 31. As I was slogging up the uphill portion, I saw all of the elite guys heading back down. It's funny because normally in local races, I am familiar with most of the lead runners. However, this time there were several unfamiliar faces. However, I did see a couple of local guys and it was fun to be able to do so! This race was a big deal because it was a Montrail Cup Race, which means the top two men and the top two women get a qualifying spot in Western States.

Mossy Fairy Bridge -- Photo Credit: Broski

At the turnaround, I refilled my water (for the first time, which probably means I wasn't drinking enough) and ate some trail butter and hit the road again. On the way back, I ran into all of my friends, who were going the opposite way. The first didn't even see me, as she was so intent on the trail. The second asked "how much farther to the turnaround?" and I knew exactly how he felt. The third said that she was going to drop at the turnaround.

On the way back, my toe started bugging me again, so I stopped a couple of times to put more lube on my toes. Once as I was stopped there, a guy who had been leapfrogging me offered me some tape for it and I gladly took him up on the offer. After taping it again, it felt a bit better, but it still was bugging me. I definitely always go out too fast and end up slowing down a lot of the second half because I always get passed a lot on the latter half. In fact, I hit the 15 mile mark (1/4 way done) in about 3 hours. I got to the halfway mark in about 6.5 hours. If I would have kept the same pace, I could have finished in about 11 hours. But I didn't.

I can't really remember the middle part of the way back. I slogged along, going up and going down and going back over the rocky sections. My legs felt fine but the bottoms of my feet hurt. People passed me. I stopped to take some photos. I ate a lot of squeeze applesauce and bananas. Finally I got to the Yeon aid station again at mile 49. From here it was 3 miles of dreaded pavement, of which I ran the whole way (and passed 4 people -- yes!) and then it was some rolling trails and then No Name aid station, which meant only one huge hill and 6 miles to go.

It was the longest 6 miles of my life. 1500 feet of climbing, a lot (A LOT) of tourist dodging and a lot of either pavement (ouch) or pointy technical rocks (ouch). Finally I reached the top and headed back down. The downhill was way better than I thought it would be. However, I forgot that after the downhill you have to go back up again before heading down the last flat mile to the finish. On the last hill, my blister broke and I limped/ran along. Then I got to the last mile of flat and it seemed so long. You have to run around this lake and you can see the finish line, but it's on the other side of the lake and you can hear the band and you know you are almost there, but it seems to take forever!

I finally got to the finish and Broski and his lady were there, photographing me in all my finest glory. I crossed the line, got a high five from the race director (his hand must be sore by the end of the weekend!) and hobbled over to the beer tent. I ended up finishing in 14:38:xx. I have only run one 100k before and my time was 15:10, so that was a 100k PR.

The verdict? Would I do this race again? I might. However, there are a few logistical things the RD needs to work on. Firstly, the aid stations were poorly run. The people were friendly, but maybe they were inexperienced. I had to get my own water, which is not normal in a big race like this. In addition, at the turn around, there were tortillas and nut butter, but you had to make your own roll-up. Usually these are pre-made and laid out for you to save your time. Also, the food choices were not great. In a longer race, there should be some real and/or hot food choices. Generally there is soup or burritos/quesadillas or at the very least potatoes with salt. They had none of that. At Yeon they did have grilled cheese, which was good, but I really felt that there should have been more.

On the other hand, the after party was great, although they did run out of beer by the time my brother crossed the finish line on Sunday. That's not really fair to the runners who are in the middle/back of the pack. Back of the packers are people too!

All in all, it was a fun weekend and a difficult but beautiful race.

Have you ever been to Portland or the Pacific Northwest? What is your favorite beer?

4.10.2015

Looking Back: March

Just like that, March is gone and we are back in the month of April again. Before you know it, my birthday will be here and then summer and then baseball season will be over and then I will be on Amazon buying presents again. My year in a nutshell!! But for now, let's just focus on one month at a time.

Running: I was still recovering from a bit of an ankle thing, and a sickness in my chest, and a general lack of enthusiasm or motivation. Thus, my running suffered. You are going to browbeat me now, because my total in March was still about 210 miles, but it was only about 3 runs a week, which does not feel like enough, and was one 100k race (62 miles), leaving only about 130 miles to be spread out for the rest of the month. A kind of fun stat (for me) is that the miles included about 25,000 feet of climbing.

Reading: I am back in the saddle again and I am riding hard! It's SO nice to not have to be studying anymore. Also, I do not have TV at all; we got rid of cable because we were not using it, and although we have netflix, I rarely use it either. I have been hoarding books on the hold shelf at the library like it's going out of style. In March I read 7 books and most of them were pretty darn good! Here they are, listed by order of favorite to not as favorite. The three that surprised me most were: The Nightingale, which I had no idea what it was about going in, but it turns out to be a crafty novel about hardship and bravery of women during WWII, The Martian, a story about a man trapped on Mars, who struggles to figure out how to survive until the next mission arrives in 4 years time, and Landline, by an author who I normally like. This book just did not do it for me!

The Nightingale (5 stars)
The Martian (4 stars)
Allegiant (3 stars)
Travels in a Thin Country (3 stars)
Names on a Map (3 stars)
The Vacationers  (2 stars)
Landline (2 stars)


Powell's - Portland, OR

Travel: Yes, even with a bum ankle and a chest cold, I got around okay. In March I traveled locally a bit, going to Auburn/Cool to watch some friends at a race, and to Sonoma county for a run and a chat and some dance party USA at my brother's house. At the end of the month, I had a great trip to Portland, which will have to be recapped at some point! The Cliff Notes: I drank good coffee and beer, looked at books, walked a lot and raced among the Pacific NW greenery. It was great!

Tell me: What was the best book you have read lately? Where is your favorite local place to travel to for the weekend?