Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best of 2015: Books

Goodreads has the following ratings: 1 star = did not like it, 2 stars = it was okay, 3 stars = liked it, 4 stars = really liked it, 5 stars = it was amazing. This year I read 77 books and only gave four of them 5 stars. Those four were:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: This was a heartbreaking story about a woman who gets early onset Alzheimer. She is a brilliant Harvard professor and it is really hard to read about her experience as she struggles to deal with day to day life and to come to terms with her disease. I could not put the book down even though I really did not want to get to the end.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park: A true story about two different children in the Sudan. One is a girl who has to walk all day every day to go and get water and bring it back to her home. The other is a boy who gets separated from his family by war and ends up in s a surprising place in the end.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: I am a sucker for a book about WWII and this one was no exception! This was a story about a blind French girl and a German radio operator who we follow along each of their own paths in the war until they finally meet in the French village of Saint Malo. The writer does a great job of keeping you entertained while giving us a bit of WWII history at the same time.

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah: Yet another WWII book, this one is also set in German occupied France and it gives us a bit of insight into the role that women had in the war and as part of the Resistance.

There were also several which I gave 4 stars to. Of those, these were my favorites:

The Martian by Andy Weir: A story about a man accidentally stranded on Mars and his attempt at survival and his hope for rescue.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett: A bunch of short stories about writing, life, love and friendship. She has a quick wit and a way of writing that I really enjoyed.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Another WWII book! This one is about an English girl who gets captured by the Germans and the story takes place while she is being interrogated by them. She gives them as little information as possible, but in the end, she does give them information.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio: The story of a kid born with a facial abnormality and his struggles to fit into "real life". You can't help but love him and you want to protect him from the outside world.

11/22/63 by Stephen King: The story of a man who goes back in time in order to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. However, no action is without consequence. The only complaint I had about this book is that it was very long! It was almost 900 pages. Otherwise it was a hit.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: The story of an autistic man and his quest for a girlfriend. Being a man of lists, he creates one to guide him on his quest.

What were your favorite books in 2015? 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ho Ho Holiday!

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week! Today after I get off work, I will drive up to the (snowy!) mountains where my parents live, where I will don flannel and wool and will spend time eating and reading and kicking butt in Rummikub (hopefully). This year my brother is not going to make it, but it will be nice to see my parents and my aunt and her family and to partake in the annual traditions.


The other thing I always love is getting together for the annual day after Christmas breakfast. It has been a tradition that my high school friends and I have had for probably about 10 years, if not more. Most years, most of us make it and a lot of the time the Moms and sometimes even my Dad, some brothers or even a boyfriend or two straggle in as well. It's always great to catch up with the girls and to see the kids get older and older. Last year I missed it since Christmas was on a Wednesday and I had to work, so this year I am looking forward to it twice as much!

I hope that everyone out there has a great weekend and a joyous holiday!

What are your plans for the next few days? Do you have any annual traditions? 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Best of 2015: Travel

It's my favorite time of year again! It's time for the Best of 2015! First, I am going to start with one of my favorites, in fact you may even call it the best of the "Best of": travel.

It's always hard to decide where the best travel places were each year! This year I was lucky to go to several new places as well as a couple of "tried and trues". However, even in the familiar places, sometimes there was a bit of a twist!

Mt. Baker, WA

Portland, OR

Tetons, WY

Rocky Mountain, CO

Home Sweet Home, CA

Half Dome / Yosemite -- May

Sisters Wilderness, OR

Tahoe Rim Trail, NV

Antelope Lake, CA

John Muir Trail / Yosemite - August

TMB, Chamonix, France 

NYC - View from Tribeca

As you can see, much of my travels this year involved the outdoors! This year while traveling, I tried snowshoeing for the first time, I tasted at least 28 different kinds of new beers (that is just a guess), I made a lot of new friends and cemented a lot of old friendships.

This year, I got to see parts of Yosemite I had never seen before, I revisited a couple of states that I haven't seen much of (CO, WY), I revisited a couple of states that I know and love (OR, WA, NY) and I added one new state (Idaho) to my "states I've visited" list.

I had a fabulous 2 weeks in the Alps of France, Switzerland and Italy where I hiked every day, ate way too many baguettes and cheese, drank too much wine and took a lot of photos of the same mountain from all different angles.

I feel so lucky that I have the means to travel and that my health is good. I am also lucky that I have a family that instilled the love of adventure, travel and the outdoors in me!  I try my hardest not to take things like that for granted. I don't know who I would be without some of the places that I have been. All in all, I would call this a successful year of travel and I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for me!

What journey did you take in 2015? What was your favorite destination this year? 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Bit of Color

In my industry, when we are looking for information, we ask for "color", as in, "can I get some color on that sale at Nordstrom?" And the person would say, "it's tomorrow from 8 - 5." 

Here's a "bit of color" about me: 

I am reading two books (one for the bus on my Kindle, one hardback for home) and they are The Architects Apprentice and The Beekeepers Apprentice. It's a coincidence that both of them have the word Apprentice in them!! Both are good so far! The Architect is about Istanbul in the 1500s; the Beekeeper is about Sherlock Holmes. I hope to finish both by the end of the year, which will bring my total books read this year to 77 books. 

I am looking forward to this weekend, when we will have our group holiday dinner for work, next week, which is a short week where I will go and visit family and friends, and a good night's sleep, which I may not get for another week or so, but whenever I get it, it will be great. 

I am eating a lot of "comfort" foods lately. Soups, stews and desserts have been on the menu a lot lately, and I need to get back into the habit of eating more healthy. 

I am planning my running schedule for next year with hopefully a couple of vacation trips sprinkled in. It's hard to plan around 5 other people's schedules (only one of us can have a day off at a time at work), summer plans, family things and races!!! I know, it's a hard problem to have... 

I am putting off buying the last of my gifts. I have to buy a gift for a coworker's wife for our holiday party and I don't really know her well and I have no idea what to get her! 

What are you reading? What should I get my coworker's wife? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Need to Buck Up

This year has been a strange one for me. I would say I have been "busy" but I don't know if I have been any busier than I was last year, or the year before that. There is always something on the To Do list; there is always something to fill the time. (See this post from 2013 where I was having similar "issues").

However, for some reason, this year, I have felt more of a change in my mindset, or my motivation. Or maybe I have just shifted my priorities. I am not really sure what the catalyst was or where the mood started to shift, but this year, I feel like I have been slacking in a few of my normal, pleasurable departments.

I used to talk a lot about running on this space. In 2012, I think I ran almost 40 races, including 12 half marathons and 2 marathons and my first ultra. In 2013, I traveled to Boston, Washington DC and BC for races and I ran my first 50 miler. In 2014, I ran 10 races over 50k. This year, I started off great. I wanted to run my first 100 mile race. I was training in January and I felt strong. I was running up hills with gusto. Then I fell one day and sprained my ankle pretty badly and my training went downhill and my fitness started to decline. Of course, I still had races on the calendar, because a lot of the races you have to sign up for really early.

The first race was Jed Smith, which is a loop course. I ran it about 45 minutes slower than I had the year before. My ego took a dive. The next one was the Gorges 100k in Portland in March. I had not trained enough as my ankle was just beginning to feel better, and this one was not as fast as I would have liked either. Next up was Lake Sonoma 50M, where I did not do as well as I wanted but I actually did better than I thought I would. The weekend after that I had a road race, which hurt me more than all of the other races combined (I was sore for days!).

I had a few week gap, where I ran intermittently, and then came the big one, Quicksilver 100k, where I did much better than I thought I would and was actually very happy with my time. The "training" by way of racing actually worked this time. But I had signed up for another race the next weekend and this one was my nemesis. It's called the Silverstate 50M and it's near Reno and it's got a couple of huge climbs and it's at about 7000 - 8000 ft. Last year I ran it while injured and it was horrible. I got the worst time I have ever gotten and the last climb was torture. This year I actually felt pretty good for the first 40 miles, but then for the last 10 I felt nauseated and tired. I crossed the finish line and had to go and sit by myself in the porta-potty just in case I was going to lose my lunch.

In the weeks after that, I had no energy. BUT, what I haven't said is this. There is another component to the story. In February, I started house shopping. Every week I scoured the internet. Every weekend I went to open houses. Every couple of weeks, I put in offers that got turned down. Finally, in April, my offer got accepted and thus started the downhill slide into home ownership. My escrow was 21 days and it closed on May 19th, three days after Silverstate. So I was physically and mentally tired.

The trifecta of this story is that work also ramped up at this point in a major way. My duties and responsibilities were doubling and tripling. I am not complaining, but I am just saying that when I got home after work, the last thing I wanted to do was run. I wanted to sleep. I did not sleep. I pulled weeds and moved furniture. I made many trips to Home Depot and Target. I paid bills and sorted files and went through all my old clothes. But I barely ran.

Fast forward to now. Today my average miles per week are about 30, if I am lucky. I am snacking more than I would like. My pants are starting to get a bit snug. The only thing saving me is my daily commute to work. But who am I kidding; the commute is not saving me, it's only prolonging the inevitable. So I need to buck up and get back on the horse and stop making excuses.

But I don't want to. I would rather bake a cake (and eat half of it in one sitting while watching Top Chef and making excuses).

How do you get out of a slump? 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Looking Back: November

November was one of those months where you feel kind of relaxed and you think you have plenty of time until Christmas and then all of a sudden, you get a slap in the face because it's already Thanksgiving and the advent calendars are about to come out. This November I even scheduled a couple of "free" days in order to get some of my December errands done early, but they quickly became "non-free days" or at the very least "not as productive as I wanted them to be" days.

Running: This month I did have a couple of long weekend runs (20 + 20 + 18 miles respectively). That coupled with a race gave me a grand total for the month of 126 miles. Aside from a run or two on the weekends, I have not been doing a lot of weekly workouts. However, I did rack up 20 miles of hiking, 18 miles of cycling and 3 strength training sessions. My goal for December is to do at least 2 strength training sessions per week.

Reading: I only read 4 books in November, which on one hand is a bit surprising since I did travel for work. However, on the other hand, when traveling on the plane I watched movies instead of reading (The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game). Also, one of the books I read was 849 pages long and it took me a while to finish! The four books were:

A Spool of Blue Thread (3 stars)
Into Thin Air (4 stars)
11/22/63 (4 stars)
A Tale For The Time Being (3 stars)

Travel: November was (mostly) a month of  doing things around my local area. I spent a couple of weekends going over to Marin to run on the Dipsea trail, I had my Dad visit and we worked on some things around the house, I had people over for dinner, and I met up with friends for hikes. In addition, I hosted 17 people for Thanksgiving at my house, which went over pretty well in my opinion!

I did travel for work to New York, and I spent a fun time with old friends in Brooklyn and Queens before heading over to Manhattan for two days in the office there. My favorite thing to do in the city is to eat and I did plenty of that! I had great Haitian meat pies in Brooklyn and Russian food in Queens, and then in Manhattan went to two great restaurants: Deux Amis and NoMad.

I am looking forward to January when it will be a bit more relaxed and I can finally do that project in the yard that I have been meaning to do for the last 6 months (wow, has it really been 6 months already?). Until then, there will be a barrage of Christmas parties (I have 3 in the next week alone!) and a bit of shopping and cookie making and eating and visiting and hosting. And eating.

How did November go for you? What is your favorite Christmas cookie (to make or to eat)? How many Holiday parties will you be attending this year? 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Be It Ever So Humble: Closet Makeover

It was very common back in the day for houses to not have closets. Don't quote me on this, but my understanding is that it had something to do with getting taxed for each "room", and closets were counted as rooms. Therefore, many older houses are closet-less. 

My house was built in 1924. I  have friends with similarly aged homes which have teeny tiny closets, which I have heard came from the fact that homes were taxed per square foot (and why waste it on closet space). Luckily, my closets are not too tiny and I even have a bonus hole in my hallway. However, there is not a lot of shelving in any of them.

The other day my Dad calls me up and says that he would like to come down and fix something in my house. Fortunately, I do have a self imposed Honey Do list. However, most of the things on it are pretty easy things I can do myself (not that I always want to, but I CAN). Luckily, I can think quickly on my feet, and when he requested a project AND a drawing, I quickly got to work. Here is what I came up with. 

Bedroom Closet Plan

Hall Closet Plan

Aren't my drawing skills fabulous? NOT. For the bedroom closet, I wanted a few shelves to put shoes or clothes on, as well as a rod to hang things. For the hall closet, I wanted some shelves and also a space for the broom/mop and a space to hang people's coats when they came to visit. 

So Dad came down and got to work. Here are the before and after shots. 

Bedroom Closet: The day I moved in
Bedroom Closet : Before
Bedroom Closet : After

Don't judge me. I have a lot of shoes. 

Hall Closet : Before
Hall Closet : After

I still need to paint the shelves in the bedroom closet and to figure out how I want to organize everything, which will involve a bit of shifting and time to see if things are working the way I want them to. However, overall I am quite pleased with the way everything turned out! 

Do you have enough closet space? If you could have a closet makeover, what would you change/add? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Be It Ever So Humble: Getting Robbed

Don't freak out; this post is NOT about what you think it is.

I decided that I would post from time to time about the joys of being a homeowner. I am sure that many of you have similar stories and I would like to know how things are in your neck of the woods. Are they the same as mine? For instance, do YOU have a nosy/creepy/annoying neighbor? A loud xyz near your house? An animal that poops in your flower bed or eats your homegrown veggies? What woes do you have in your neighborhood?

My first woe is this: Alarm Systems.

When I first moved in, the "curtain twitcher" (my nosy friendly neighbor across the way) came over to introduce herself (at 8:30 p.m. and mind  you, I normally go to bed around 8:30) and to talk about the neighborhood and the goings on and the other people on our block etc. Apparently the guy behind me "might" be a drug dealer, the people at the end never leave their house and the people across the street rented to someone because they moved to Paris for work (but that is the only non-owner occupied home on the block). I learned all of this (and more!) in about 26 minutes, as the clock was slowly ticking toward 9:00.

The other thing she told me, which was interesting but not great, is that since we live on a street that is very easily accessible from the freeway (great for commuting!) sometimes thieves will get off the freeway, kick in your door, steal your TV and get right back on the freeway in a matter of minutes. Now, I am not super attached to my TV, but I am pretty attached to my life, so I decided to get an alarm system.

First of all, getting an alarm system is a pain in the butt. It's worse than getting cable. First, you sign your life away by paying up front for the install/equipment and the first month. Next, some creepy guy comes to your house and tries to suggestive sell you on $9,000 worth of equipment, which by the way, will ONLY cost you an additional $900 in install/equipment fees and another $50 per month on top of the original $40 per month you already agreed to pay. Of course, in his spiel, your area is VERY dangerous and it's IMPERATIVE that ALL windows, doors, peepholes, cracks and crevices be set up with an alarm and preferably a camera and a direct line to the CIA.

So I get the standard, the one that I ALREADY paid for and I kick the creepy guy out. Now, one of the things you also have to get, which creepy guy pretty much brushes over the details of, is a permit with the city or county. This is like a registration with the local police. However, creepy guy did mention that they would take care of it for me. I thought this was great until I got a bill in the mail from them, asking me to reimburse them for taking care of it for me.

Fast forward to three months later when I am riding my bike to work and my phone rings. I ignore it because who the heck is calling me from a 1-800 number at five in the morning; I figure it must be an east coast telemarketer. Turns out it was the alarm company, calling me because the alarm went off for no reason. The police were dispatched and they did not find any signs of a break-in. I was happy to hear that, and I thought that was the end of that. Until I received a bill last week in the mail for $84 for a "false alarm". I thought, "No problem. I have a permit. I will call them and tell them there has been a mistake".

Not so fast, little girl. I looked it up and here are the details.

General False Alarm: With permit = $84, Without permit = $154
Robbery False Alarm: With permit = $156, Without permit = $226
Genuine: With permit = Free(!), Without permit = $70

So, the only way to save money is if your alarm is genuine, aka you get robbed by a burglar. Otherwise, instead of getting robbed by a burglar, you get robbed by the city instead.

Do you have a home security system? What are the rules in your area? If you don't have an alarm, what frustrates you about one of the rules of YOUR neighborhood? 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Looking Back: October

Another October is in the books! Finally, a month with a good mix of friends, family, work, running and getting things knocked off my To Do List (which is no mean feat). I had a couple of weekends at home, which, although they weren't "quiet", did give me a chance to get some things done that I have been wanting to do for a long time (like planting that darn orange tree in the back yard)!

Running: Finally I picked up my mileage a bit, mostly because I ran the Dick Collins 50M early in the month, but also because I am trying to get back out there little by little. Running mileage was 126 miles, which I have to say I am pretty darn happy with! I also put 36 miles on the bike, hiked 14 miles and did 6 HIIT/strength/core workouts. I mentioned in the race recap that I thought the strength workouts were helping my running and I plan to keep doing them at least a couple of times each week to see if it works out better for training. Something has to give; I am still having back pain and that plus my lack of motivation have led to a lot less running that normal. However, if I can find a substitute for one or two days of running per week and it works out, this may be the solution.

Reading: I am not super excited about any of the books I read in October. I ended up reading 5 books total and they were all just "okay". They were:

Heroes Are My Weakness (2 stars)
Life After Life (3 stars)
What Alice Forgot (3 stars)
The Dinner (3 stars)
Dietland (3 stars)

Travel: I didn't stray too far away from home in October, but I did have a nice trip home to see my parents, where we went on a couple of nice hikes, spent some time with my grandma and ate the last of the fresh tomatoes. I also went to my cousin's wedding which was at a nice vineyard about an hour and a half from my house. The setting was beautiful and it was great to see family that I hadn't seen in a while and to get a bit gussied up and to dance my booty off (I did not count that as one of the strength workouts, but it WAS a workout)!

November is shaping up to be another fun (filled!) month, with a couple of visits from friends and family, some big house projects, some running events, hosting Thanksgiving at my house and a trip for work to NYC!

How was October for you? Did you go trick-or-treating or did you hand out candy? Do you know of any good strength workouts I should try? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Violence in Mexico


San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
After spending a month in the heart of Mexico, in the state of Jalisco, in 2010, and a week in San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato, in October, 2015, and after talking to dozens of expatriates from the United States, Canada, and Europe, I feel confident that the information I'm about to impart is reliable and unbiased.
A typical street in this UNESCO World Heritage City.
The answer to the question about violence is documented in an incident I managed to videotape in 2010, which is still relevant today. This tape briefly but accurately depicts the violence most expats will experience directly or indirectly in Mexico. Please take a moment now to click on the link and see the mayhem for yourself.

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Art Abounds in San Miguel

Walkway in Toller Cranston's Complex
Nancy, Bevyn, and I struggled to define exactly what makes San Miguel de Allende, a colonial town in Mexico, so magical. 
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Culinary Delights in San Miguel de Allende


This is the first place I ever stayed in Mexico almost twenty years ago.  I'm delighted it's still where I left it! The hotel rooms surround the delightful central dining courtyard. 
American restaurants try. Entrepreneurs spend thousands on decor intended to foster a pleasant ambience and hearty appetites. Some places even attempt to emulate European sidewalk cafes although that usually results in a few tables placed on the city sidewalk with a view of passing traffic and the scent of gas fumes. In Mexico, though, you'd be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that was not unique, beautiful and charming serving delicious food at prices so inexpensive you are tempted to frame the check.
95 pesos is 5.71 US

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Equality in Mexico?


People are often confused by Mexicans' seemingly playful attitude towards death, but la Catrina, a sexy skeleton often cast in provocative poses, was originally intended as a political statement.  The curator of San Francisco's Mexican Museum, David de la Torre, says, "Catrina has come to symbolize not only El Día de los Muertos [Day of the Dead] and the Mexican willingness to laugh at death itself, but originally catrina was an elegant or well-dressed woman, so it refers to rich people. Death brings this neutralizing force; everyone is equal in the end. Sometimes people have to be reminded."

In a land where the wealthy are very rich indeed, the poor struggle to earn a few dollars a day, and the middle class is almost non-existent, it is crucial for everyone to remember that there are certain aspects of daily life that are the same for everyone. Death may be the major equalizer in Mexico, but it's not the only one.

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Casas in San Miguel de Allende

Unlike American houses where "curb appeal" is a desirable attribute, Mexican houses are intentionally designed to have no curb appeal at all. It is only when you get beyond the nondescript exterior that you see the hidden treasures like the courtyard above.

There are a couple good reasons for this lack of public appeal.

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The Heart of San Miguel de Allende

The jardin, or main plaza in San Miguel de Allende, is always humming with activity.  The Parroquia, modeled after European churches, is located on one side of the jardin while stores, restaurants, and civic buildings surround the other three sides.

You can sit in the shade of the laurel trees, which have been sculpted to provide shade rather than symmetry, and watch the
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Dick Collins 50M

Wow! It's been a long time since I have done a race recap.

In 2013, Dick Collins was my first 50 mile trail race. I had no idea how to pace myself. I just said that I was going to "walk every hill". I finished just under 10 hours and I was very proud of that time. Last year, I was in pretty good shape and I ran it again, knocking about a half an hour off my time, and finishing in 9:29. This year, I was not in pretty good shape. I had been running about 15 - 30 miles a week and doing 1 or 2 days of HIIT training. I was not watching what I ate and I had been spending long hours at work and getting not enough sleep every day.

My expectations of myself were pretty low. I just wanted to get under 11 hours, which would mean basically I could run a minute and a half per mile slower (or walk more) than last year and I would still be okay. There was a friend of mine who ran last year and we ended up finishing together (hand in hand across the finish line!) and he was also running this year and I thought my A goal would be to just keep up with him.

The race starts off in the dark, along a paved path that goes partially around Lake Chabot. I ran along and talked to some friends, but soon I felt that need to pass people (I always get antsy at the start) and so I said goodbye to them and took off. Luckily this part of the race was on a fire trail so it was no pressure to pass or be passed, like it would on a single track. I ended up running with a lady who was running her first 50 mile race and she was doing a great job. We ran together for several miles before she peeled off to visit the bushes and I pressed on.

Luckily, the weather was cooperating. It was about 50 degrees and it was a bit foggy, which was perfect running weather. Like all trail races, this one has a lot of ups and downs (almost 9,000 ft total), but there is also a lot of trail that is runnable. For about 10 miles it was a slight downhill or a flattish area and I was running under a 10 minute pace. Around mile 15, I hit the Skyline Gate, which is where I often end up when I run from my house. In my mind for a second I thought how easy it would be to just run down the hill to my house from here. But no, I grabbed some watermelon, used the facilities and pressed on. From here on out, there is a lot of single trail. As I started out, there were two people just keeping pace with me. One was a girl, who when I came up behind her, happily pulled over to let me pass. In my mind, even though I did not think this was going to be a great race for me, I still wanted to pass that girl.

As the race went on, the girl and I were neck and neck. We would swap places on the ups or the downs (she was faster on the ups; I was faster on the downs) and we would sometimes both roll into an aid station around the same time and one of us would get through faster, but we were right next to each other most of the time. But we did not speak; we just kept leap frogging. Then came the long downhill to the turnaround. Since I had been faster at the downs, I got a bit of a lead on her at this point. I came into the 25 mile turnaround, grabbed a grilled cheese (still my favorite ultra food) and headed back out without slowing. She came in about 45 seconds behind me.

The next 4 miles was a steady uphill climb. I was about halfway through the climb when the girl caught up to me and I jokingly said, "darn it!" to her. We continued on together after that, talking and enjoying the company, and griping over our aches and pains for the day. I was feeling better than expected, but my back was hurting me and my knee was giving me a twinge now and then. After the long climb up, there was a pretty steep road down to the aid station and then a pretty steep downhill single trail, where my knee really started acting up. I actually had to walk down the hills in some places.

Soon we were back to Skyline gate, which meant we had about 15 miles left. The girl and I ran together for some parts and did our own thing for others. However, we were pretty much within sight of each other the entire time. Then we came to the last 5 miles. She pulled ahead of me, but I could still see her there, my carrot on a stick. The final 2 miles are paved and I could still see her, and I gave it my all, ramping up to under a 9 minute pace. My feet were hurting; my quads were burning; my back and knee were telling me to hurry up and get to the finish so we can rest!

I made it to the finish just behind the girl. I went up to her and thanked her for being my carrot and she told me that I had been her carrot in the beginning and she would not have run as fast if I had not been there. She ended up getting first in our age group and I ended up with 2nd, which I was happy with because I ended up being much faster than I had anticipated!

Final time: 9:31
Age: 2nd
Gender: 8 / 60 finishers (+22 DNFs)
Overall: 36 / 185 finishers (+69 DNFs)

Overall, I would say that I was very happy with my results. In fact, I may try to change up my training plan going forward so that it is more strength and cross training (cycling mostly) and less miles, since it surprisingly seemed to work.

Have you ever done better than expected at something even though you did not prepare as well as you would have liked? What is your "carrot" when you are going for a particular goal? 

Monday, October 12, 2015

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? 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

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
Americanah
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? 

Friday, September 11, 2015

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? 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TGIT

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? 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Retirees Flocking to Mexico

Lake Chapala at Sunset by Mike Cruze
Gwen Ifill, on the PBS news hour, reports on the huge number of people moving to Mexico. Retirees are flocking to the middle of the country that offers "Hawaii's attitude and Denver's latitude."

Continue Reading>>

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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.

The TRT

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? 

Friday, July 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? 

Wednesday, July 8, 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? 

Thursday, June 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? 

Friday, May 8, 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? 

Friday, May 1, 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?

Monday, April 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?

Friday, April 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?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Currently: March




Current Book - Allegiant. I am nearly finished. I also just finished the Vacationers (bleh) and started Tiny Beautiful Things.

Current Running Path - It is about 1 mile to the trails from my house so I have been doing a lot of running in my local hills lately.


Current Drink - Sparkling water. It feels sort of special.


Current Excitement - My trip to Portland this weekend! 


Current Podcast - PRI's The World, which is a daily news show. It's nice to catch up on the world events while on the bus or while running.


Current Garden Item -N/A. Well actually, there are a lot of weeds!


Current Love -The weather. I love spring!

Current Food - There have been a lot of  boring meals in my life lately...chili, stew, pasta, and the regular line up of fruit and cereal and nuts...

Current Indulgence - A new laptop. I got this one. I am still getting used to it because it has Windows 8 and a touch screen, whereas my current laptop has Vista. 

Currently Pondering - How the heck I am going to run a 100k this weekend with serious lack of training. I know I can do it, but it's going to be rough. The fact that this was supposed to be an A race is kind of hard for me as well. 


Current Mood -
Unmotivated. I don't feel like running, or doing anything... I think I have spring fever. 

Current New Find - My local grocery store has a tiny second store about 1 mile further down the road and there is no line, even on weekends! Score. 

Current Peeve - When the bus driver is late, which makes me late for work and throws off my morning. 
 
Current Song - I am really having fun with a throwback radio station that we have here, which plays old Snoop Dogg and other fun 90s rap. I mean, who doesn't love Gin and Juice?


Current Triumph - Finally my ankle is better! Now I just need to get back into shape.... 
 
Current TV Show -  N/A. We got rid of cable and got Netflix, but I don't really use it that much. 

Current Wish-List - I have a few secret wishes right now. One I can tell you is that I want a really light, really warm sleeping bag. However, they do not come cheap, so I am biding my time... This one has really good reviews and may be what I am looking for.

Currently Delaying -Working out / running. I have a race this weekend and am using that as my excuse to "taper" (aka: do nothing and eat a lot). 

What is on your wish list? What are you pondering these days?