Friday, May 8, 2009

Blog on Hiatus for awhile

Hey readers,
So as you may have noticed, the blog has been on hiatus for awhile and it will probably stay that way until further notice. I don't think I ever created the space I intended to here. I wanted the posts to be informative and entertaining, and a good place for people on the West Coast to go and brainstorm fun, unique adventures. I think it became too self-absorbed and the writing wasn't what I wanted it to be. I hope to try again later this summer when things calm down a bit.
So thanks everyone for reading! Please friend me on facebook so we can stay in touch- I will continue to post snippets of adventures there, and would be happy to give anyone the details via email.
Happy trails!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Trip Planning: Solidifying Summer 2009

First, training.
Well, I my body seems to have recovered from last weekend's AR50. This morning I did my longest run since the race, ~8 miles at a slow Sunday morning pace (~9min). My legs are actually a little sore! I'm not sure if it's remnants from last weekend's 50 miles, or that my strength actually dropped off during this recovery week. Any other AR50 folks still hurting?
I am trying to figure out my summer ultrarunning plans in the midst of a lot of life changes. These include losing my job and trying to find a new one, moving across the country, getting married, going on my honeymoon, attending 2 other weddings, and being utterly distracted by the prospect of backpacking.
But if you get too hung up on life logistics, you never do anything cool. Just sign up. Just buy the ticket. Just commit, and make the plans afterwards. So while I wont be doing many long distance races until October, I think I have the next few months pretty well blocked out.
Bay to Breakers: May 17th: Psyched to do this one! I have missed the last 2 years, but I used to do it every year with my little brother. I am thinking of dressing up like a female cop to protest the new ING corporate crackdown. I figure I will arrest people and confiscate their alcohol.
Diablo 25k, June 6th: I would rather do the 50k, but it's the weekend before I get married and I can't commit to the kind of training I would need to while planning the wedding. So I chose the fun, mellow, "off-the-couch" distance. I used to work at a health food store when I was 15 and the produce guy told me that Diablo was a sacred peak. And I've never seen the top.
Finger Lakes 50k, July 4th: Yeah, I should run the 50 miler. Maybe I will. But I will be just off my honeymoon, where I doubt I will be doing many 30 mile training runs. Actually, "doubt" makes it sound a little too likely. I think the 50k will be challenging enough. My fiance grew up ~5 miles from the course, so it should be a fun weekend of visiting.
Spirit of the Prairie 50 m, Oct. 11th : In order to embrace my temporary home of Kansas City, I want to run their 50 miler (or maybe 100 if I can find the time to train). It sounds psychotically flat, but when in rome!

Okay, so it's a mellower summer, running-wise, than I would prefer. But your hobbies need to fit into your life, they can't make you stop your life, otherwise you will stop doing them. That's why I drink a glass of wine the night before a race. That's why I visit my grandparents instead of doing a long training run. If I can't be an ultrarunner and prioritize the other things that are important to me, I know what will prevail. And I am sure that the summer will let me body relax but still keep it strong, good and ready for October!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Race Report: AR50 2009

This is just a partial race report- more later...
On 4/4/2009, the AR50 went off without a hitch. What a fabulous race! The course is stunning, the challenge manageable, great aid stations, and cute little bells and whistles that made the day a huge success. 650 runners started the event, and 510 finished. 200 entrants were first time 50-milers, myself included.
I was a middle-of-the-pack runner, so I can't offer a great report on the front runners, but Scott Dunlap always does a good job of that at I managed to finish in 10:44:50, 15 minutes ahead of my "goal" of 11 hours! But more importantly, the trails were gorgeous, the race was well-flagged with great aid stations, the wildflowers were blooming, good conversations were had, and everyone seemed to have a good time. What more can you ask for?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pre-race Report: AR50

I'm off to the AR50 in a few minutes!
I looked at the maps yesterday and I am psyched to see that the race ends up near Auburn Dam where I used to guide the white water. I love that area- it will feel like going home.
My body feels good, outside of a little pain on the outside of my left knee. The pain in my right IT band from this winter is totally gone. My twisted ankle feels sore when I circle it, but feels fine when I run. I am a little nervous about my treadmill winter and my extreme taper over the last few weeks, but nothing much I can do about that now! What I got is what I got.
I am a little nervous about the embarrassing digestive problem that sometimes plagues me when I run. I can eat alright, but then...well, I will spare you the gory details! So my fingers are crossed! I got potatoes, lots of Heed energy drink, and I will wear my camelbak. The first time doing a certain distance is so funny! You just don't know how your body will react.
Mentally I feel strong. I can visualize finishing, and I really want to finish. I know that the only person that can make me not finish this thing is me. And I hope to have fun doing it!
Anyhow, I would appreciate good thoughts tomorrow! I would love to finish btwn 11 and 12 hours, but who knows. The race starts at 6am PST. I can't wait to get going!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trip Report: Nosara, Costa Rica III

Sunset from Pelada

Snorkeling at Carillo. They call this guy "The School Bus"

Third world traffic jam

II at Guiones

Yesterday we began the day doing the norm- waking up early, eating yogurt and granola like good hippies, and walking south to Guiones beach to surf. I didn't surf due to my achy ankle, but I was photog chick on the beach and took some cool pics of II surfing the small clean swell (my favorite! sigh...). Afterwards we drove south towards Samara. Samara is a nice beach town, slightly more developed and definitely more centralized than our beach town in Pelada, and we stopped for a few errands and street cart lunch. II got lobster on a stick with salad and tortillas for US $6, and I got fresh OJ, chicken, and pineapple for US $2.50. We were happy.
We continued on to get lost. After a ridiculous journey trying to connect with Caminando, we backtracked to Carillio, a beautiful bay just south of Samara. We tried out our new snorkel gear and were blown away. While cloudy, the bay kicked ass! We saw tons of technicolor fish, corals, and god-knows-what-else under the water.
We drove back in time to catch sunset at the beach, made tacos for dinner, and collapsed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trip Report: Nosara, Costa Rica II

Location: I'm not telling!
Details: Today II and I decided to live the spirit of the 3-day hike we had planned to take (until I twisted my ankle) and explore some new beaches. Just when we had started to complain that Costa Rica was becoming too crowded, we drove south towards Samara took a right on a dirt road, and found ourselves at a nearly empty spectacular beach. We wandered around for hours, speculated on potential surf breaks, and collected trash. We found 7 shoes!
As I elevate my ankle, praying that I can finish my 50-miler, I have been reading Ed Abbey. What an awesome crochety old bastard. Anyhow, here is a quote of the day:
"A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us- like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness- that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, like a child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous than all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, to be able to see and tough and hear in the midst of tangible things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures."
And on that note, I am going to watch the sun set into the ocean.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trip Report: Nosara, Costa Rica

Okay, so this may not fit the traditional description of a trip report, since II and I have been down here numerous times before. But heck, let's go.
Trip: Playa Pelada, Nosara area, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Method: Surfing, primarily. Some diving, fishing, and running on the beach
Route: There are 2 good ways to get here from the states- flying into Liberia, and flying into San Jose. From both of those places you can rent a car, and from San Jose you can take a shuttle flight to Nosara (the quickest, easiest way if you don't have a lot of baggage).
Date: March 2009, as well as many other times in the past. We usually go once in March, and sometimes around Christmas, and II typically manages to weasel another trip down here in the summer. The wet season is May-October, which is hit or miss. Sometimes you get decent weather and can surf (albeit a bigger swell) other times you get dumped on (II and his buddies last May. Whenever I heard from them they were playing cards inside or riding the bikes around in the mud.
Difficulty rating: The surf is great for beginners (very consistent white water) and the waves are good for intermediate to advanced surfers. Guiones is a big beach break with lots of little peaks, but it's generally pretty soft. Pelada has some funny reef breaks during big swells.
Plusses: Not commercialized (yet), monkeys and iguanas in the trees, relatively easy to get to, surfing in a bikini, cheap mangos and avocados, amazing sunsets, consistent surf, II's mom makes us yummy baked goods, great medical care
Minuses: Involves international travel, getting more expensive/crowded as time goes on, stingy things (ants, scorpions, stingrays, etc.)

Details: Well, we really like it down here, to say the least. II was smart enough to buy a piece of property down here a few years ago that borders the biological reserve, and his mama managed the building of a couple houses on the property. We rent them both out when we aren't around.
So a couple times a year we come down, pull out our boards, and enjoy hanging out in the tropics. We have hosted lots of our friends and family members here over the years, and love sharing this place with people. Nosara/Playa Guiones/Playa Pelada is a great area, still full of family-run businesses, small hotels, and no chain stores. There isn't even a gas station. We spend our days away from electronics, talk to the people around us, enjoy the nature, and generally get back to life the way it should be.
On the bummer side, I twisted my ankle walking to surf the first day we got there. I skinned my knees and now my right ankle is puffy and bruised. 2.5 wks before the AR50! So we have decided not to go on our planned 3-day beach walk (sad!) and I'm just laying low, doing lots of icing, and crossing my fingers. It doesn't feel that bad, but at mile 40, who knows what might come up. Please send healing vibes in my direction!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trip Report: Point Reyes Backpacking

Trip: Point Reyes National Seashore
Method: Backpacking
Day 1: Bear Valley Visitors Ctr>Bear Valley Trail>Glen Trail>Coast Trail>Wildcat Camp
Day 2: Coast Trail> Arch Rock>Bear Valley Trail>Bear Valley Vistors Ctr
Date: March 2009
Difficulty Rating: Easy to Moderate
Plusses: Stunning coastline, relatively mellow hiking, close to the Bay Area, wilderness-y single track trails
Minuses: Takes planning to make a reservation, trails and campsites can be crowded

Details: Backpacking at Point Reyes is like getting a beer after work with a friend who you feel comfortable with. The logistics are simple, the event predictable, you always have a good time, and you always remember why you like the guy/gal.
Point Reyes National Seashore is a little more than an hour north of San Francisco. There is a shuttle (the Stagecoach) that can get you to right to the Park's entrance from Central San Rafael, so you can even go the public transportation route.
The scenery is amazing. From intense stands of Douglas Fir, to soft rolling meadows, to impossibly steep cliffs dropping off into the ocean, the variety and drama of the landscape makes you feel like you are way further away from civilization than you are. First rule of thumb is to get off the Bear Valley Trail (the highway) as soon as possible for the ultimate nature-y experience.
The only camping is back country, which in the summer is nearly impossible to reserve. Winter is easier, but the best thing to do is just pick a weekend 3 months out and reserve a site (for last-minute summer camping, the Tomales Bay boat in sites are awesome, but that's another post). All sites have running water, outhouses, and trash/recycling. Yup, you don't have to pack out your trash. Again, not super wilderness-y, but it adds to the overall easiness of this trip.
I tried out my new Black Diamond firstlight tent, as well as my Z-lite thermarest, and was pleased. The tent was very roomy for a 2 person ultralight! I also test drove the big batch of veggies I dehydrated a few weeks back and they worked great- I am starting to perfect the ultimate backpacking dinner! I will post when I get it perfect.
On a personal level, we had a great group and a ton of fun. 8 of us- wow! But lots of laughter and silliness and we all ended the trip drinking local beers and eating oysters, so yeah. It didn't suck.

Even more Big Life Changes

I wanted to apologize for this lapse in blogging, but there have been some big life changes afoot (in addition to getting married, moving, and training for a 50 miler). I promise to update soon with good pictures of spring! Here is one of a weekend backpacking trip at Point Reyes to whet the appetite. And in short, training is still going well, though I'm having a tough time fitting in the long (3+ hr) runs...

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Ultrarunning "Article"!

Well, the article turned into a quote, but it was still published! Laura, from the WMAC Valentines Day Snowshoe Race, was kind enough to tear the pages out of the January/February issue of Ultrarunning and bring it to the race. My lack of competitiveness is now visible to the world!
I used the steam room after this morning's workout, and it felt great. I think I may start trying to stretch in there more often...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Keeping the Faith

I heard from my weight lifting teacher today that mid-February is when people start to loose strength keeping up their New Year's resolutions. I didn't make any this year, but I started training for my 50-miler on Jan 1st (okay, Dec 28th). Since then, it's been at least 2 hours of working out a day, sometimes outside, but more often in the gym due to weather. The gym doesn't inspire me much, I must say. I like watching "Keeping up with the Kardashians", but not for 18 miles! Last week I definitely felt tired, physically and mentally, trying to cram workouts around a full time job and general life maintenance.
Anyhow, if you're feeling the same way, keep the faith! I did a 6 mile fast run today that felt pretty good, and an hour of weights flew by. I feel like I have broken through. We are getting stronger and getting closer to meeting our goals. The discomfort and lack of focus is all part of the process- that's what keeps it real. And in the midst of it all, we just keep training!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adirondaks: Climbing Giant and Baxter

This is just a partial post, but I am pretty psyched to share pictures of the awesome cabin we stayed at and awesome mountains that we climbed in the Adirondaks this weekend.
We stayed in a Canadian climbers hut, met great people every night, told stories, cooked delicious carb-laden meals, spent our days climbing mountains without the prescribed equipment, saw incredible views, drank good beer in mountain bars, and overall just had an awesome weekend. Sometimes life gets in this groove where every thing you encounter feels special and good and wholesome, and we had a taste of that.

Valentines Day WMAC Snowshoe Race, Saratoga NY

As I drove north from JFK to Newburgh, I listened to some Christian radio. The discussion was about the serenity prayer, which holds the oft-repeated line "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change". That was a great precursor to my Valentines Day weekend! If I can't make the snow melt, I might as well run in it!
This was my first snowshoe race, and I registered II and myself in it for Valentines Day morning. I told him about it the night before, and he was psyched! I had been emailing Laura in the weeks before, and she was so sweet, so I was expecting a good vibe for the day.
We drove up Saturday morning and found the parking lot, after which we crowded in a log-cabin type structure and pulled on our borrowed snowshoes. When the race organizer (Laura's husband) said go, we headed off. Running in snowshoes wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, though it certainly slowed my pace down a bit. II ran with me, so we had a nice time hanging out together. The course we well-groomed and little hilly, the morning was sunny and beautiful, and before long, we had finished and huddled with the rest of the crew in the log cabin. It was just the kind of scene I love- not many people, crock pots full of home made warm soups and chilis, and friendly chatter all around. Laura even arranged for a barbershop quarter to sing a few post-race love songs. II threw his arm around me, and we swayed to the music. Our first snowshoe race, and our valentines day, was a success!

Friday, February 13, 2009

PCTR Woodside 35k

Well, you know that it's bad when you are packing up for another adventure before writing about the previous one! So I'm getting in just under the wire, as we leave in the morning for the Valentines Day Adirondaks Snowcamping Weekend (I swear, II didn't know what he was getting into when he agreed to get married).
Last Saturday I ran the PCTR Woodside 35k. We had rain the two previous days in the Bay Area, and so I was delighted to wake up to clear skies. My "brother" Ryan came down with me, and I was psyched to show him the trail running/ ultramarathon scene, as he is a anti-corporate, anti-competition, nature-for-its-own-sake kinda guy (I will always be proud that I introduced him to Ed Abbey!). I didn't know much about Woodside- it seems like a wealthy South Bay community tucked between some beautiful parks.
PCTR puts on a great race, and this one didn't disappoint. The run was mostly single-track and through the redwood trees, which were all misty and damp from the previous few days. The course was textured (read hilly) but consistent- no huge uphills or downhills. That's starting to be my favorite kind of trail running- consistent gentile inclines and declines that make you feel like you're flying. The aid stations were awesomely stocked (I discovered the joy of the salty potato) except no pop tarts! The Angel Island race spoiled me.
Anyhow, I ran super easy since i am increasing my mileage faster than I probably should right now. I walked all the uphills and kept a nice easy pace and it was so enjoyable! I really felt that there was nothing else I would rather do on a Saturday morning than run through the redwood forest, quiet and damp, at my own pace.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Well, it wasn't crowded!

Did my last run of the week in the rain out at my old stomping grounds, Spinnaker Point. It's a funny little paved bike path near the Hispanic part of San Rafael near the Richmond/Bay Bridge. You always see people fishing, couple cuddling, kids lurching around on bikes with training wheels. There are always hawks looking for their prey in the marsh, tons of ducks scattered around on the bay, and deerbrush blooming along the trail. Okay, not always. I saw only a few other brave souls this morning, as California is finally getting some much-needed rain.
The 3 mile run felt great, real fast and light. My various aches and pains seem to have quieted down a bit (maybe I have beat them into submission?) and even though it was cold and blowy, I felt charged up for the PCTR 35k this Saturday. The weather seems to have cleared, so hopefully we will just get nice and muddy. Much longer run than I have done in awhile, so I'm crossing my fingers that it goes well!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Back to California

As much as I love being with my sweetie in New York, and as aesthetically pleasing as the snow outside my window is, I love California weather. Unfortunately my last day in New York, II and I were walking aroung Brooklyn and I tripped and twisted my ankle and skinned my knee. I think that it's a short term injury, but my fingers are crossed. This could throw a wrench in my plans.
But this morning, I went on my first outdoor run in weeks! Not a trail run, just a 7 mile run up through the neighborhoods in Oakland. It was a warm glowy morning, and it was wonderful to be outside. Of course I want more. I wish every day could start with a surf session, followed by a few hours to write, some time tending to my garden, and then a 4 hour run in the Sierras. But until then, a morning like this one is pretty nice.
This weekend should be a good time. I have a 21 mile trail race in Santa Cruz, then Ryan and I are going backpacking for the night. If my ankle is still bothering me, I will blow off the run. Can't wait to get into nature.
I promise I will take my camera on the next few runs! Too many posts without pictures. My apologies.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Big 29!

Today is my 29th Birthday! Since my birthday is always in the winter (unless I'm in the southern hemisphere) I tend to not try and do a big adventure because I always end up cold and disappointed. This weekend we are going to NYC to have fun out on the town, and until then I am stuck in the gym. Why do the miles feel twice as long on a treadmill?
I'm happy with what I've achieved so far in life, so I am not having any crisises. I get outside a lot, I am engaged to an awesome guy, I go to a new country pretty much every year, I have a job I believe in, and I continue to challenge myself. The 20's have been fun- 1 more year to be immature and get away with it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not a wedding, and not a trail

Did 16 miles on the treadmill today. Did them the way the nice old lady at the Angel Island trail race told me to run the AR50- 25 minutes at a comfortable place, then 5 min walking. Still took 2:45, and still felt tough, but the treadmill magnifies things. Then H helped me work up a training plan like an actual athlete. Luckily, you get to plan to surf, backpack, and trail run.
I can't wait for this snow to melt and to get back to running on trails. I fall asleep at night hurting for the Sierras in summer. What an extra funny burden to feel so connected to the natural world- another relationship to maintain, that you hurt without, that you have to prioritize. I don't feel that t I have a connection that others don't, but rather stunned at how strong the illusion that we are not connected to nature really is.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Angel Island 16k

As my first training race for the AR50, I entered the Pacific Trail 16k Angel Island trail race on 1/11. It was a beautiful sparkly day, with record high temps and sun all around. I had run a PCTR race before but I had heard good things, and they lived up to their reputation. The aid station snacks were amazing! The course was well marked and beautiful, 2 loops around the island, with a windy fun descent each time. Amazing views of SF, OAK, Marin, Mt. would be a great place to teach people about Bay Area geography. Anyhow, met some nice folks and placed 3rd in my age group (though my age group was pretty slow, I'll admit). Can't wait until Woodside!

This is not a Wedding

After a day of extreme wedding drama, R and I grabbed a couple beers and hiked up the fire road behind Dominican College. A much, much needed breath of fresh air. Mellow uphill climb with a great view.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cataract Trail

Did my hill work on cataract trail this afternoon. My body was feeling tired so I only went up to the top of the trail (laurel dell), wandered around a bit, and ran down. I did think about Kansas though, and how much I appreciate this awesome vibrantly textured nature out here. I am sure Kansas will have some of the same, but this Cali girl will have a little adjusting to do.
I am trying to figure out a good word for a run where you stop at point where it seems fun or something interesting happens. Like for instance today I ran, but I also stopped at a waterfall, hiked up a steep hill, and ate huckleberries. My dad called it "funning". I kind of like it.

"Before" training for the AR50

I made II take this picture of me after 2 months of barely running and 2 weeks of heavy holiday eating and drinking. Let's consider it the "before" shot. I'll take another right before my 50 miler. If anything, it should be proof that elliptical trainers are garbage.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mt. Tam Training Run

Distance: ~6 miles
Where: Dipsea Trail>Coast View Trail>Redwood Creek Trail
Notes: Good times! I had never run the Dipsea before, and even the ~2.5 miles of it I ran lived up to its reputation. As tough as I think I am on occasion, I cannot believe that a quad Dipsea exists. The Coastal View trail was beautiful, and reminded me how much I love running and hiking on a slight decline along ridges. Maybe for my next training run I will start further north.
Also, I don't think I like or need my iPod trail runnig. At least not on these short runs.
Also, Muir Woods is a fricken zoo. Stay away on Saturday.

Surfing Santa Barbara

II came out over Xmas and we spent some time in Santa Barbara. We surfed Jalama one day (okay, he surfed and I took pictures) but the rest of the time mostly surfed our old haunts- Sands and Dev. Small waves but lots of fun goofy times longboarding with friends.