Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last 16 Days in July 2012

Everett, WA - move + friends
Eugene, OR - move + friends
Woodstock, VT - run + friends
York Beach, Me - beach + family & friends
Mukilteo, WA - family & friends

I've found that life is extremely difficult. Day in, day out, it can be very, VERY hard. East coast. West coast. Rich, poor. Old, young. It's all similar...

I've also discovered that friendship is probably the most significant factor in my life. Always has been, always will be. So thanks a lot BRS buddies. Without you, i'd be totally lost...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Last best day?

PR! 3:55:01 at the Tunnel Marathon! Marathon #101 (not counting 34 ultras not to mention DNFs).

Incredibly scenic course (some photos on http://www.brianpen.com/LittleMarathon/Tunnel/), weather gods smiling, Oh and all downhill at 2% grade. With the mattress shoes didn't feel a single pebble, new anti-chafe product Chamois-Glide (from Body Glide) was minty fresh and worked. Added surprise, received a 5th place trophy for Marathon Maniac of the year for running 43 races last year (only they would think of giving a trophy for 5th place). Chatted with lots of Maniac pals then noodle soup at Won Ton City with VVN.

In the old pre-2011 system, I'd be 4:02 away from a BQ.... But will I really get 5 minutes faster by the time I turn 45? How ridiculous is it to care? I guess the closer I get the more I care, though my conscious mind would never admit it. Just read a hilarious book by John "the Penguin" Bingham entitled, "an accidental athlete", which chronicles his evolution from an overweight, chain-smoking, beer guzzling middle aged (43 yo) professor to a back-of-the-pack serial marathoner. It was like reading my autobiography. One of my favorite quotes from the book, "we never know what's going to be our last best day...[it] can't be recognized in the moment- it can be seen only in retrospect". Appreciate every good day, it is, uh, may be all downhill from here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bike Ride on a Weekday

Attempted a mid-week bike ride with Gerald earlier in the week, but that got cancelled.  So we rescheduled on Fri, and I picked up some ingredients for dinner that I wanted to try out for FC Mukilteo this Sat, which also got postponed.

So how does a simple hour bike ride out to Seward Park, followed by cooking up scallop sliders have such a huge impact on my well-being? I'm not sure exactly how, but they do.

I'm beginning to find my internal tempo in daily life. Hikes, tennis, pre-dawn walks along the Port of Everett, cooking, swiging, phone calls after too much swiging, biking, talking over coffee, have become so significant for me. Somehow, they help me better understand my own pace in life, and how I relate to everything that happens in life. Not just the pretty, fun, and easy stuff.

This is becoming so clear to me now. Don't know exactly why it got so unclear, but I do know my internal pace will be focusing on that "weekday bike ride" day in, day out because that is the medicine that I need, that works for me, and that I actually like to take.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Movie Confusion

Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and booger eating morons...

What a quote from Mr. Tanner from the original Bad News Bears. So as I watch the Bad News Bears, May's Movie selection, the Hustler, Superfly, as well as Paper Moon, I am utterly confused...

I spoke of a "tempo" or internal "pace" on my Whidbey Island ride with Gerald in April. Deferring to our movie experts from the blog, how come the pace from those movies is so appealing to me? How come I enjoy each storytelling moment from those movies mentioned above, over those from Thor, Iron Man 2, and even the Dark Knight?

Is it substance? I'm not sure, but there's an element of story + film that's still cloudy to me.

Internal pace. Internal tempo. One's own internal speed in life, day in and day out. I'm learning that is so, SO important.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's a...

Hey Mr. Davis,

So I finaly decided  on a bike. I bought a Trek Fx 7.3 on Saturday. So far I've taken two trips to Mercer Island and one up to Kirkland. After work today I went to Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island (picture below). Maybe when I get in shape we can go for a ride?

I don't know if you have been following the NBA offseason free agents, but if the Miami Heat stay healthy next season, they could be the best 3 point shooting team ever.

Talk to you later,


Monday, July 9, 2012

Getting back on the bike (July 4-8, 2012)

Got a text from Julius at 8 PM, “ferry tomorrow at 7 AM?” Then a VM, guess I forgot to confirm final departure plan for July 4 BRS Ride Around Whidbey, thus the messages. It’s 3:20 AM, been up since 1 AM. That is what happens when you go to bed at 7 PM. I give up. Have to get ready for the ride in a couple of hours anyway. I resist the urge to drink more Scotch and instead have oatmeal and fried eggwhites with diet coke.

Read an email from Ocean about embracing Nothingness. Apparently I’m not the only one who would get an F in philosophy class, but listening to Ocean is a bit like trying to understand religion or a math theorem or that 3-D picture of sharks in my living room. It’s there but I can’t see it.

Read Tim Olsen’s race report on his record breaking run at this years WS100, and this interesting link entitled, “My Path to Contentment: From Addict to Awakened Ultrarunner”

Does contentment lie in being “awakened”, hyperaware like turning on the lights and seeing all, even the cockroaches? Or does it lie in being unconscious as many hours as possible because consciousness is fundamentally incompatible with peace? To me existing is like having to sit through a sermon in a tight, itchy suit. Every minute. Running, biking swigging, and sleeping, the only relief. Give up or fight.

Had only ridden 3 times this year, still tired from the 50 miles in Redmond/ Duvall/ Carnation with Julius the week prior, seriously out of biking shape. 

One thing about having a bigger furnace (riding with the built-in pannier) is needing more fuel constantly. Still you cannot help but feel the shingles flaking off one by one as you tick off feet of elevation. Whidbey doesn’t mess around… and it never gets old. It was a beautiful day and there were even fewer cars than usual, life doesn’t get much better than a ferry ride and Whidbey ride on a Wednesday.

Yesterday met Dyno for his club ride in Everett. The day started off well with a hearty breakfast at Saw Mill cafe. 

I did end up attempting the Lord Hill 50k trail run the day before but knew after 20 miles and 3400 ft climbing I'd better DNF and save something for the ride and hike the next day. He assured me there would be riders of all speeds there, but actually the slowest guy was a 65 year old still pulling 21 mph into a headwind. I still maintain that the pain experienced riding surpasses any run- but the high also greater. I not-so-secretly enjoy being the sole girl riding with a bunch of strong guys because the best way to get better is busting your lungs trying to keep up. You can run alone, but if you get dropped by the peloton you die. The guys, instead of being annoyed at having to slow down for me, seem to adopt me like a mascot, doing sheep dog laps and pulling me along after I get dropped on the hills. They’re just happy to be back on the bike and so am I.

Then it's off to meet Ocean for a hike at Wallace Falls. The pictures do not do this place justice, truly. Plenty of fern porn. Furry trees. Waterfalls. Too tired to insert movies.

I wore my "mattress shoes", aka Hokas (zero drop but ridiculously high due to NASA-engineered spongy sole that protects your feet from rocks, twigs, or whatever). Maybe the Foot Whisperer was right, I do need bigger shoes. Less than 2 weeks left until VT100. My biggest enemy is not my feet, or my gut, but my mind. Wish NASA could engineer a replacement brain for me. 

Leschi Food Club 7/1/2012

Ocean is brilliant. Why wait until the next DC or an Alaskan Salmon auction to stage a cooking event?

All I had to do was make dessert. Theme: Italian, so I go for Tiramisu. Of course I wait until 9 pm the night before to try and find Lady fingers cookies, and after going to 2 x QFCs and 1 Safeway, I amass these soft frozen things that don’t really look like cookies, but oh well. Decide to try Nigella Lawson’s recipe for frangelico Tiramisu which calls for waaaay too much liquid (shoulda listened to the reader comments on the web). Luckily the rest of the food turned out well.

Ocean and Ocean Jr. came early to start on their homemade ravioli 2-ways. I tried to go for a run, knowing my chance at VT100 redemption was only 3 weeks away, but motivation is low and I feel like a beached whale. 

I come back from a slow, flat 13 mile run to find Dyno making homemade bread and red sauce with olives/ capers, and salad from Omaha.

The great thing about hosting? I got the leftovers- ha!

Next food club meeting in Mukilteo, July 14
Theme TBD

céad míle fáilte

Ireland, June 15-21/ Austria June 22-24, 2012

Got 1-2 hours of sleep on the redeye to Dublin and arrived Friday midday, felt a little silly having to ask people to repeat themselves when I ask them for directions because I had trouble understanding Irish, but eventually found the bus to Ballinasloe in western Ireland, then a 45 Euro cab ride down winding country roads to Portumna for the 100k the next morning. Forget about renting a car, driving on the left side of the road is one thing but navigating without iPhone, forget it. 

Got to the B&B, lucky to find one last minute less than 3 miles from the race start; sometimes the biggest stress of ultras is the logistics.

Met a couple of runners from Ireland, Collette and Eimer, who had collectively run some 300 marathons but were there for their first 50k (50k virgins). They were discussing the British Royalty and the depressed Irish economy over biscuits and tea with Mary, the B&B owner. Walked into town, looked at Portumna castle, then to packet pickup. 

Met friends of Collette and Eimer, runners from Dublin. “Did you come all the way here for this?” I explained I was going to Dublin for a neurology meeting the following week, it’s only natural that I take a slight detour to run 100k. They insisted I ride back with them to Dublin after the race. They found another runner to drive me to the race in the morning. They invited me to dinner. The Irish are notoriously friendly, their national greeting is “one hundred thousand welcomes”. I ordered my first Irish Guiness and one of the guys was so offended that it didn’t have the proper head on it that he actually went to take it back to the bar, only to find that it had came from a can. Mick pretended to be exasperated as Maurice told a long but hilarious and amazingly coherent yarn about his quest to run a marathon in Bulgaria. Dinner went late and everybody ordered dessert but nobody else was drinking. Plenty of runners don’t drink but I got the sense that alcohol can be a touchy topic given the high alcoholism rate there.

Got up at 4:30 the next morning, went to the kitchen to meet Ger (I guess that’s short for… Gerald?) who was running his first 100k was to give me a ride to the race start. He looked on in disbelief as I wolfed down a bacon and egg salad sandwich, followed by a Ploughmans cheese sandwich and a bottle of fanta while he munched on whole grain cereal and a banana. His bleary-eyed friend drove us to the park, and I was grateful I didn’t have to shlep my heavy drop bag the extra 4 km in the dark to the race start as planned.

The course is a 5k loop done 20 times for 100k (8.5 times for the marathon) on mostly dirt trail through a forest, past a marina and some castle ruins. Ran a bit with a newbie who seemed a bit stressed about having Bib #1, but he ended up DNFing. Even being from Seattle I was not prepared for the cool/ damp. Had to walk in my rainjacket to keep from freezing when I started weaving and sleepwalking from the jetlag, got severe armpit chafage. By now I’m used to feeling like crap, DNF didn’t even cross the horizon. Perked up after changing to a dry longsleeve shirt and caught up to the other female 100k runner, Selina a 55 year old Brit who was now struggling. We talked about her red squirrel sighting and she told me about some of the other runners on the course, including the eventual 2nd place finisher who had just won a 145 mile ultra in Britain 2 weeks prior, and the other woman who once ran a 16 hour 100 miler who DNF’d after running a 4 hr 50k. Guess that left the door open for me since we were the only 2 women left. Turns out despite my slow time (13:39) I was the first ever female finisher -woo hoo! Ger won it in 8:30. There was even a guy who did 100k in a wheelchair- on trail! 

Went to dinner and saw Selena and her friend Michael, whom I later learned had run the Seattle Triple 2 years prior. I remember hearing that a couple of Brits had come to run that and thinking, “they came all the way here for this?”.

Next morning I met some horseback riders from Norway and we sat down to a “full Irish breakfast” with French press coffee. Then I got in a car with the Dublin guys, Mick, Maurice, and Frank who took me on a tour of downtown before dropping me off. Here is Phoenix Park, which at 1750 acres is one of the largest walled parks anywhere. Here is the president’s house, where there is a candle always lit to welcome back Irish returning from other countries. 

The famine statue, commemorating the year when 25% of the population had to leave their homeland or starve (apparently there is a sister statue in the US with 1 fewer figure to commemorate those who died in transit). The Ha’penny bridge and the boardwalk where the drug addicts sleep. Discussed the state of Irish healthcare, which apparently no one can afford. Mick points out how none of the corners have street signs (it’s true) and Maurice calls the prime minister “a Leprechaun” but their self-deprecating humor accentuates a definite national pride.

In Dublin I struggled to stay awake in meetings. Got to see my parents, as my dad was attending the same meeting. Funny how I hardly see them and we meet in Ireland. Midweek I realized I had to see the Guiness brewery. 

Apparently sales were increased by a brilliant marketing ploy, “Guiness is good for you”. I learned the proper way to pour a pint in 119 seconds. Fill to ¾ by pulling the tap toward you to incorporate the nitrogen gas which gives Guiness its unique foamy head, let it settle, then fill to top with tap away from you so no more gas gets in it. I couldn’t even remember which way to pull the tap, you’d never guess I have a bartending “degree”.

Then I walked to the old Jameson distillery. Must say, I’m still a scotch girl.

Friday got up super early to catch my flights to Salzburg, birthplace of W.A. Mozart, where I was meeting Jenny and her 2 oldest girls. 

Funny how I have to go all the way to Austria to see family. A week of sitting in meetings, no sleep, drinking Guiness and eating fried food just reinforced my last minute decision to downgrade from the planned 2 x 100k in 2 weeks; luckily there was a 54k option. 

Got to do a little castle sightseeing before going to the “mandatory” prerace briefing. 

Walked with a bunch of runners from the race headquarters at Mozartplatz to a classroom at the University of Salzburg where they spent over an hour outlining what seemed like every turn in the race. 

The girls were good but had to be given something to keep them occupied. I noticed there was a team of Kenyans there, apparently they’re going to take over trail ultras too? The 4 man relay finished 100k in 6:19 (the men’s solo winner was American 8:54, female winner was 50 years old, 11:56). Then prerace dinner. Jenny asked the waiter about one of the menu items. “Of course it’s good, it’s Austrian”. Had Wiener schnitzel and goulash, then took a cab back to the hotel through the thunderstorm.

There were violinists playing Mozart at the start. The skies had cleared but it was sunny and humid, not great news for the chafage which had not yet crusted over from the week prior. 

Started out along a riverside path then entered a forest trail, seemed to go up and up and up. Then exited a clearing and proceeded to wander the countryside, farmroads, grassy fields with views of the foothils, interspersed with short stretches of single track with roots, rocks, mud, and creek crossings. The actual hills of "The Sound of Music".

Saw cows, donkeys, horses, sheep, dogs. Saw some gigantic chickens who appeared to be running faster than I was, and even a peacock. 

Was lapped by the 100k leader who started 3 hours ahead of us on this 2 loop course, then passed by a number of Nordic walkers as well.

Early on soaked through my clothes from the humidity, then a rare unwelcome sensation, thigh chafage. Uh oh wakeup call to go back on diet. Seemed like there was never anyone around except the moment when you reach down to put body glide on your raw thighs, then a runner comes out of nowhere to pass you. Slogged on for 4 hours in that state, was happy to get back into town where it was weaving through a dense crowd of tourists on cobbled roads and side alleys, trying to find the next Mozart 100 course marker. 

Was very glad to finish, then hobbled back the 2 miles to the hotel, bracing for the shower to come. And the return to work.