Monday, May 28, 2012


This is the 2nd of 5 planned 100 milers for the year, the first and only local one I’m likely to do, because it is the only non-technical one. 10-1/2 loops around Lake Youngs in Renton, 9.4 miles, 900 ft elevation and 2 aid stations per loop. It was designed by Pigtails, a local ultrarunner and race director (RD) around my age who has never once DNFd in her 20-or so 100 milers, and won at least 1 race in every distance between marathon and 150 miles. She had to invent a 200 miler so she could run it. You have the options of running 200, 150, or 100 (a.k.a. the “half two hundred”). Believe me, I had crazy thoughts of attempting the 150 but I have too many planned days off work for other races to take another Friday off. This was advertised as a PR (personal record) opportunity which it certainly was, but as I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as an easy 100.

Fellow Maniac Francine drove down with her husband from Rossland BC (7 hours away, just north of Spokane) and stayed with me. We had met at Quadzilla and run several Spokane races together. Last year at 54, she had done Cascade Crest, a highly technical 100 in Easton. That race starts at 10 AM just to guarantee that even the front runners have to do some running in the dark, and put the “Five Miles of Hell” at the end of the course, where runners have to pick through fallen trees, mud/ water, with chin-scraping elevation gain. That’s not even as hard as the Plain 100 near Leavenworth which has a 36 hour time limit and is advertised NO AID STATIONS, NO PACERS. WATER FROM STREAMS SO BRING YOUR FILTER. Unlike marathoners or triathletes who always seem to have some excuse as to why they didn’t have the perfect day, ultrarunners all know that anything can go wrong, and something hurts somewhere all the time. I don’t believe I’ve descended a flight of stairs in the normal way (i.e. facing forward, one foot per step) in 2 years. They make up for it by choosing harder and harder courses and priding themselves on “no whining”.  Most ultrarunners are quietly unassuming, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t proud- for some, the more obstacles, the more suffering, the better.

Many of my Maniac friends lamented about how undertrained they were. You would laugh if you saw their mileage. I felt pretty underprepared myself, mainly from lack of sleep related to moving/ changing jobs and returning from Europe just in the last week, and dietary indiscretion (no excuse there….). I had not even put together my drop bag by 8 pm the night before… thankfully it was a loop course so only 1 drop bag station to worry about. All my best intentions of having the dream blister kit ready after RR100 succumbed to my procrastination tendencies, though I did manage many new important items, including caffeine tablets, cornstarch, and tincture of benzoin. The drop bag list is >30 items long and though I emailed myself to NOT FORGET THE IPOD, I managed to forget that crucial item. In a panic, I texted Ocean Man, whom I had convinced to bring me warm food at midnight and left a spare key for Casa Leschi. “can you bring my ipod”.

It was a beautiful day, albeit a tad warmer than ideal at a sunny 74 degrees, laughably comfortable by ultra standards. Arrived at 4:45 am and people from the 200 and 150 were already doing their laps (and one guy had already finished his 200 in 43 hours!), and most of the 100 milers were already unloading supplies their cars. I surreptitiously observed the other runners’ gear and made notes to self- coolers work better if you put ice in them, and I must get folding chairs next time so I can change socks without having to get up from the ground which is difficult to do after 70+ miles. It's a "washing machine loop" course, i.e. switches directions every loop, so you can see familiar faces and say "good job" a couple hundred times. I realized I knew a majority of the runners already, including Jill (the high school principal who can outrun her students) who ran with me at ATY and doing great after turning vegan, Francesca with whom I'd run Javelina and was doing the 150, and Monte, Rob, and Guy who were doing their first 100.

One of these is Larry C, the guy from Spokane who runs with his ultradog Abby (see March 2011 entry, "37 miles to 9 mile") who last year at 71 set an age group course record at the Yakima marathon (3:44, when I PRd at 3:57). I convinced him last January at the Pullman Winter Ultra #2 that he should do Pigtails. His last 100 was at Western States 11 years prior; he thought he had one more in him. I latched on to him early on, as I enjoy running and chatting with experienced runners and hearing tales about their past life and running adventures, getting tips and advice. He ran without a water bottle, which to me seemed crazy as some of the aid stations were >5 miles apart (at our pace on trail, over an hour). The aid stations only had tiny dentist-size paper cups which had to be refilled 10 times to get a real gulp of water. Rest stops are where a lot of novices lose time- easy to do as the day goes on and they serve pizza and soup, but just 2-3 minutes at each stop kills over an hour over 100 miles. But I didn’t mind taking a breather at the rest stops, and I was well used to being near the back of the pack of trail runs. 

Then I remembered I had cans of coke at home, maybe Ocean Man could bring those with my ipod. Texted while running “can you bring some cans of coke and beer”. Then I thought my backpack might get too hot but I didn’t bring any bottles, “can you bring my handheld”. Then "can you bring some bags of ice", then finally “can you just call me when you get there”. Very generously he offers to make a day of it, came down with Ocean Jr. at 4:30 PM to catch dinner/ movie so I wouldn’t have to wait until midnight for my iPod. Turns out I didn’t need it until dusk and then I forgot it anyway... 

The first 5 loops went fairly well, aside from a pinky blister at mile 33. Forgot my nail clipper so was initiated into the "popped blisters with the pins off my race bib" club. Better to get it over with, ignoring your feet is the knell of death. Foolishly didn't change my damp socks but just poured more anti-MonkeyButt powder in, and some down my cleavage for good measure. Mile 43 for me is always the death zone. Larry was starting to struggle a bit as well; he had an overtraining injury a couple months back and hadn't done any long runs in 7 weeks. Then I got a sharp abdominal pain. Gotta go but uh-oh, at least 5 miles until the porta potty. Wish I had brought some TP.... could I reliably identify poison oak? Hmmm, those ferns look kinda soft, but kinda holey.... Made it to the bushes and got a couple pounds lighter after the diarrhea. The cramps came back again, but this time I made it to porta potty. Geez, maybe packing 9 dairy-based protein shakes in my drop bag was not so bright, though it didn't bother me at RR100. Thankfully they had wipes at the aid station (another item to bring next time) so I could clean up, and I took several with me since I was constantly applying body glide to my muffintop armpit and chest chafe marks which hadn't fully healed from my last 3 weeks of running.

Saw Ocean Man and Ocean Jr. at base camp around 5 pm, with ice cold coke cans and turkey sandwiches. Apparently Ocean Jr., on studying the race board had 2 questions, "So, she's only running the half?" and to Ocean, "why did you run marathons?". 

At the 100k mark dusk was setting in, and mosquitoes. I thought I would make it back to camp for my headlamp and warm clothes before dark, but Larry and I were each struggling and slowing, but Larry was slowing more. I knew I'd be much better off staying with Larry than going it alone but I also knew he was just walking now and I'm a disaster on trail in the dark without a lamp, so I made the decision to run ahead of him. Maybe bad race karma would hit me for leaving him, but the first rule of survival is to survive. Went to porta potty and changed out of tight, wet sportsbras into dry clothes and took stock of chafage. Changed socks- dang, more blisters, including a blood blister the size of my pinky toe and the start of mild heat rash.

Met up with VVN, with whom I'd run the TransRockies. She brilliantly had lined up a couple friends who brought in McDonald's and were her pacers. She looked very fresh in her Hokas and they were about to take off. Larry did not look well and I wanted to latch on to VVN and not run alone, but in my haste forgot my ipod. Fatal mistake because as usual I'm slow as molasses in dark and could not keep up, then found myself alone in the dark for 10 miles without tunes. It was getting colder, I tried to walk briskly but the chafage discouraged armswinging. I took caffeine. I took advil. Did I already take caffeine? Texted Ocean Man that I probably wouldn't make it back to the aid station before 12:30, he answered that Ocean Jr. had to go to bed but he left turkey sandwiches and coffee at my cooler. Got slower, slower, weaving... nearly fell backwards climbing the last hill back to the aid station. I told the lap counters I was going to sit in my car for 30 min to warm up (have to tell them if you take a break otherwise they send a search and rescue out if your loops take too long). My whole body was shaking and jerking, too much caffeine? Better drink more coffee. Made sure to put my feet up as I could feel they were swollen but I didn't want to take my shoes off, ate a turkey sandwich... 

I hear a knock on my window. Go away. Knock knock, you ok? Oh yeah, I'm in the middle of a race. Oddly, I simultaneously had absolutely no thought of DNFing, yet no desire to get back on the course. I just did not give a flying F- whether I finished or not. I just didn't want to get up. I looked at my watch. Crap 2 hours had gone by. Yet there was so much time left.... got up to check in at the counters desk and get more coffee. Pigtails was there volunteering at 2:45 AM, and she had just run 200 miles in 52 hours! John, another volunteer I'd met at ATY offered to pace me. People are always asking me if I'm OK, guess I didn't look so good. Picked up my iPod though this time I had company. We actually ran a bit, but sitting in my cold damp filth for 2 hours had cranked up my chafage and I was pretty cranky. We talked about upcoming races, and he generously offered to pace me in the future, since I clearly need pacing!

Then Ocean Man texted me at 4 AM. Apparently he had texted me at 1 AM but I was asleep and didn't answer, so he got worried. Offered to pace me for a lap and bring me coffee and Egg McMuffins! Hallelujah, what a sight for sore eyes. Left for loop #9 just at the Buttcrack of Dawn. He listened to me ramble, ran when I ran, walked when I walked, even claimed that he was starting to see why people run these things. I remembered when he paced me to my Maniacs qualifying race 5 years ago, how we should chant the army alphabet and other marching songs to keep going. 

More blister popping. More diarrhea but by then I was almost empty. Another Egg McMuffin. I could feel every rock on the bottom of my feet and the itch from heat rash, but no matter, I was ridiculously happy just to be on my bell lap. Ocean Man had not run in 6 months, so only planned to pace 1 lap. I took off on my last lap alone and realized I could still break 29 hours, which was my original goal. Most of my Maniac friends were well on their way to huge PRs, and since I was so behind I got a chance to see them all on their bell laps too.

I got to the last aid station 4.5 miles away in under an hour, and Ocean Man was there. I asked him to meet me a couple miles from the end to finish with me. The dude is a natural runner, whipped out 12-13 miles like nothing. My last 2 miles were the fastest of the entire race, and I finished the last loop in 2:10, for 28:20 overall, well under the 32 hour cutoff.

Got my finisher's buckle and a pin that says "100 mile finisher- I only did the half!" Drove home and made sure to have a couple shots of whisky before attempting to remove my bloody sock, which thanks to the benzoin had adhered tightly to my toe, and braced for chafage burn in the shower. Felt a little down as can happen after a day like that... but at least I have the Leschi Food Eating Club to look forward to! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Concerned Parent

About a month ago, I found something hidden behind the guest bed in Ocean Jr's study room. I found a left sleeve arm warmer with the lettering Marathon Maniac. Check out the Hall of Fame criteria. In addition, I also found a book entitled UltraMarathoning.

I fear my son may be a closet ultra runner...

Date correction. Leschi Food Club will now be 5/28.  This is the reason.

I dedicate this video to you Gerald.

Short & Overfat

What the heck is that? Oh, a broken milk crate. How'd that happen? Ocean man attempted to sit on it. Who needs a scale when you can listen to nature?

Not sure exactly why, but going to link a series of letters between Grandpa Ocean & Ocean Jr. It was for a school project a few years back.

Somehow they seem a lot more significant now than when I originally read them.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tall & Lean

BRS in the news: 

April 28-May 12

Part I: Eugene Marathon– Running with Ventoux, April 29, 2012 I was very excited to hear that Ventoux was going to run the “full” this time. Got to see View and Anna (turning 2!).
Didn’t even consider “Anna Montana” when I got her Montana souvenirs from a recent trip there. Sammy was looking distinguished with a grey fringe.
Too bad none of the other Cutters could come (see April 2008 entry), though Jay had an excuse (taking photos). He came by to help complete the BRS pre-race regimen which started with lunch of deep fried chicken fingers and pickles with fries and beer, followed by staying up late chain-smoking and drinking more beer. I being an old lady retired early. Race day weather- perfect. Brought my camera so that I could take a picture of Ventoux at mile 22 as a favor to Ocean Man, though I thought 50/50 Ventoux would be way ahead of me by then. We were on pace for a sub-4 through the half, but then my Death Zone kicked in. Ventoux was looking strong so I urged him on; I’d live to run another day (like next week) but too bad I wouldn’t get my mile 22 photo. I took one of the sign just for posterity….
Then I picked up speed as my death zone went away and I caught Ventoux shortly after mile 24.
At least I got a finish line video, damn greasy thumbprint as I fiddled with the camera, and even a photo with the Krusteaz Pancake man!

Followed by some awesome homemade soup containing pulled pork. But damn I’m never running in that shirt again, I’m sure the horrible chafage had nothing to do with my overhang.

Part II: Bye Bye Spokane, Hello Leschi

Bye Bye East Side, Hello (again) West Side (Seattle -> Spokane -> Seattle) Got back from Eugene, pulled an all-nighter packing for my move, then had my last day in the office. A year ago today I thought I had found the Quiet Life in Spokane.
People seemed to find that bizarre, and some placed bets on how long I would last there. It seemed an ideal to me, escaping the politics and pretentions of big city big institution. How could it be more isolating than being surrounded by people here, yet not belonging anywhere? Is there such a thing as too much peace and quiet? Maybe it’s my amnesia, I’ve forgotten how much the winters suck.
Human beings can get used to anything, and as soon as they do, they miss it. I wished I could run just once more the bluff trails less than a mile from the house I was renting. But as I drove through Snoqualmie Pass I was amazed to see Seattle again. Looking forward to being in a house again. Ocean Man came to help me unpack and Dyno rode by on his way back from work. They've got this thing going on with pushups? (The pic is so blurry because they're moving so fast!)
Part III: Miwok, a classic 100km trail run just north of San Francisco, so popular you have to enter a lottery. I pretty much knew before I got there that I’d DNF (nearly the same course as the Northface 50mile which I DNF’d in December but longer- 64 miles- and harder- 13,000 ft vertical), not to mention I had a 45 mile trail run in Germany the following week, but I’d already bought my plane tickets. I crashed a house rented by several Maniacs in Stinson Beach, thankful I didn't have to drive that windy road at 3 AM raceday.
>25% of the runners DNF’d, and even the last 25 finishers failed to make the 16.5 hour cutoff. The winner finished at 9:20 but I dropped at mile 33 at 10:20+.

Part IV: St. Gallen never gets old.
I miss the Bougies (the 3 nieces) terribly. This is her back yard.
Part V: GutsMuths Rennsteiglauf is the largest cross country race in Europe with about 1500 runners in the Supermarathon (72.7 km) alone, in its 40th year. It is has a modest 5138 ft of elevation gain on wide, non-technical dirt trails through the Thuringen Wald, in the former East Germany.
I’d been wanting to do this one for a couple of years, but the logistics of running an ultra in the middle of nowhere Germany alone was intimidating. Luckily Jenny had a gap in her concert schedule the same weekend I had free before starting back at the Mothership. Travel is better with a companion and even better with someone who speaks the local language. It had taken me 3 days for my brain to recover from the move and jet lag, and 4 days for my quads to recover from Miwok. Friday we started our train ride from St. Gallen Switzerland to Eisenach. Jenny was flipping through a travel magazine she found on the train, with pictures of a tropical beach. When was the last time you’ve been on a beach? she asked. I had to think about it, probably before I started running. Lying around on a beach sounds like a complete waste of time. I’d much rather ride 4 trains for 8 hours to east Germany just to run a 45 mile trail run. Apparently Eisenach was the birthplace of J.S. Bach,
and Telemann also lived there. Lots of baroque history.
The race was huge, like a Rock n Roll marathon but in the German forest. I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t find my camera so was stuck with iPhone which takes crappy pics, for my one chance to see these sights which are so different from western Germany.
They had buttered toast with chives with hot tea at the rest stops,
which were every 5k. Caught a guy running his 32nd GutsMuths! There was bratwurst and beer at the half (38k)
and lots of beer at the finish in Schmiedefeld.
Was glad to have my tunes since 99% of the runners were German and I had no one to chat with. I finished in 9:20, got on a 1 hour+ bus back to Eisenach and met up with Jenny who had done the 17k walk. It was still light out, so we took a taxi to Wartburg, the castle where Martin Luther lived, just at dusk.
Next morning headed back to Switzerland, then arrived in Leschi the night before my return to the MotherShip.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Don't Visit Brian if You Hate Writing Blogs

I stopped by Davis' house this past Saturday and you can't tell me he's doing something wrong when he has a driving range and a putting green in his living room. Plus, he doesn't have to mow his grass and that's pretty cool. It takes time to mow a lawn and Davis would rather take that time to ride a bike to a liquor store(along a sidewalk, mind you,) to buy a memory for a friend. The kind of memory you find on the bottom shelf of the whiskey rack...

That's all I got... there's my addition to the blog... you play a god game of pool fat man

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bitter Bite

When Ocean Man wrote about the grapefruit challenge I few weeks back I knew I wanted to come up with something similar. Whidbey Island is a fun ride but it’s farther from me than it is for Crash, and doesn’t have the same draw. It’s fun, I enjoy every ride there, but it’s more than a grapefruit for me. It’s more like baking bread, just takes that much more time and planning. Instead I spent some time thinking about what my grapefruit should be. My first thought was a ride I like to do through Echo Lake/Lost Lake area. But that ride was problematic in a similar way, it’s a big commitment and not something I have any compulsion to do every month. I thought about riding towards Lake Roesiger too, I like that ride even more but it’s farther still, too much to bite off as a grapefruit challenge. For me this grapefruit has fit perfectly into a bowl. It can’t be too big or I just won’t do it, but it can’t be so small and pathetic that it’s got no benefit one way or another. After thinking on it for a week or so I knew what it was to be: St. Andrew’s Blvd. It’s not very far away, and I can approach it from my house or on the way home from work. It’s not a big ride, really only the hill matters, anything else I do with it is just sugar sprinkled on top. Just six minutes of puckering my face, putting my head down and gutting it out.

And the payoff is huge. Once I know I can get through that single climb I don’t worry about too many other cycling challenges. You’ve got to be in decent shape physically to do the climb well but the payoff for me is largely mental. It’s like a ruler I can just hold up and gauge my current strength with.

I’m not sure when the last time I climbed St. Andy was, it’s been about a year. Maybe not since the last TdM even? Since deciding that was the goal in Mid-April I’ve been somewhat apprehensive about the first attempt. I was a little scared of it and didn’t know how well I would do. Anyways, after putting it off, I decided I would ride my bike home from work and veer off towards Muk on the way and yesterday would be my first grapefruit of 2012. I dove down toward Picnic Point so I’d have the full experience of rises and falls through WindAndTide too, might as well make an event of it. This grapefruit was sweeter than expected! I felt really great going up The Switchback, even had a couple clicks on my cassette in reserve there, at that point I knew I could get up St. Andy, but with how much finesse? That was the question. Now I tracked it on my smartphone but I didn’t pay attn and give me hard numbers. I think my record for the climb hovers somewhere right around 6 minutes. I don’t think I beat that but I didn’t feel the need to circle in the sidestreets or switchback across the double yellow either. It just felt like a good hard climb. Not much different from any other I’ve ridden lately. And the payoff is easy to name: Reassurance. I’m strong, I’m in a good place mentally and in a good place physically and it feels good to eat a grapefruit sometimes. I’ll see if I can’t even do this a lil more often than monthly now.

I stopped in to say hello to Ocean Man at the top. We chatted, talked about revelatory worldviews (AGAIN, sheesh). Then I took off. I flew down the goat loop, so much fun! I don’t think I’ve been down there in about a year either, weird. Took the boulevard home and just as I was arriving in N Evt I flatted. It was one of those GUNSHOT ones. The tube was toast but a quick change and I made it the rest of the way home. Maybe those are the allegorical grapefruit seeds? I dunno, probably just shit that happened I guess. That’s why my gps route stops about 4mi shy of my house though.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May's Movies

Watch this movie. (The Hustler). From beginning to end.

It'll put furr on 'ya. T- Ennui.

Pointless Ingenuity

There have been a few times when I’ve wanted to haul one bike with another. It’s never been a real need but more a stunt--just to do it. Like If I worked on a bike for a coworker, for example, and needed to deliver to them at the office, I’d imagine hauling that bike with mine in order to maintain my own bicycle commute. Sure I could drive to the office, and probably save myself a lot of time and hassle, but that’s no fun. I’ve had some ideas about how best to do this but never came up with a very good solution. I’ve seen it done with cargo bikes, the easiest method is just strapping or bungy-ing the front tire and cockpit of the towed bike to the side of the rack of the cargo bike. But I don’t have a cargo bike or rack big enough that I could safely lash another bike to it. I had another idea at one point of mounting a fork mount (like you find for a car roof or truck bed rack) onto the top of my cargo rack on the back of my bike. It’s got a wooden skateboard style deck so sinking a few bolts into it would be no problem. I bought a cheap fork mount but before I even got very far I quickly realized that solution was not going to work. It puts far too much stress on the connection and the fork would pop off if it didn’t tear the rack apart first. Oh well.

This last weekend a buddy from work wanted to go riding with me. He has a mountain bike that he recently bought. He’s been getting a fair amount of mileage out of it too, mostly exploring the forestry roads that are so numerous in East King Co (jealous, there are relatively few of them nearby in Snohomish Co..or at least they are far away). Anyways, he wanted to ride a road bike, see what that was all about. He’s been hearing me talk about it (I talk about bikes sometimes, you may not know this about me) and wanted to see what drop bars and skinny tires had to offer. We planned to ride the length of the Centennial Trail starting in Snohomish and back (we actually rode all the way to Arlington) a little over 20mi each way? Not bad for his first time out!

Again, I should have just driven the car, but Skirtsteak mentioned she might want to hit the swap meet this weekend and I was going to leave her the car as an option. At some point I came up with the brainstorm of trying to mount the trunk rack I have for the back of the car on top of the kiddie trailer (that the kids are too big for now anyway). Well, it worked. I didn’t snap any photos of the details for the mounting as they were messy and questionably stable at best. But it even held two bikes just fine and I rode it all the way to the Snohomish trailhead (8mph average, fuck yeah), then back home when we were done. Metric century for me!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Leschi Cribs

Yesterday, met up with Gerald. Watched the movers unload. Then we unpacked. Swigged. Unpacked. Swigged. Actually did a decent job of setting up the kitchen.

Then Dynomite biked over from the Eastside. Then we swigged. Talked. Swigged. Talked. Swigged.

The band is back together! Oh, and here's a shot of lovely Leschi: