Monday, December 30, 2013

They prolly ain't watching

Starting doubt I'll miss a post or two in Drynuary  but this is the song I would have picked for the new song on my NMN.
It was a good year in most respects and I'm Be Fresh as Hell if the Feds Watching!
To be perfectly honest, I've had a really hard time not singing this around my daughter (she's already primed to chant "clan in the front, let your boots stomp" and "one gold tooth like I'm Sha Shabba Ranks!) So I'm actually pretty proud of that (that she just knows those parts, I haven't taught her the rest). Also, at 3 1/2 she can go verse for verse on the canon. 3 foot assassin with the roughneck business. I haven't listened to this much Tribe since I was 16 (they are remarkably child friendly - Their moms would be proud). Next time you see her, just whisper "hammer time" and I'll give you a dollar if she doesn't start shuffling side to side and yelling "whoah, whoah".
Its not just one way though, at 3 1/2 shes has taught me to appreciate Taylor Swift, Brittney (bitches), and Icona Pop (she loves them like I love 2 Chainz). I'm not linking them though. Its embarrassing.
Anyway...For me 2 Chainz and Pharrel won 2013 musically. And I'm be Fresh as Hell if the Feds Watching. It was a banner year. I figure most wont work out this way.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Its been a long time? I shouldn't have left you...

...without a dope post to step to?
Normally this is the part where I complain it took me 30 minutes to remember an old burner cell phone # so I could log in on this account, but really that is on me. As to those emails I just bulk deleted from the bad...mostly they are from one really intense dude. Sorry/not sorry.
Busy busy busy. Still its my turn to apologize. I have been absent. And while missing coughing up a lung at the TDM (Corner stone of the grand slam in case anyone is wondering, anyone?) or annoying my wife doing crunches in front of the TV didn't get to me, I totally fucked up this NMN. Totally. No excuse.
My apology? Can't promise this, but will attempt 30 days of posting my favorite youtube music videos (cut off the cable - not a bad thing - right now I'm listening to Stevie Wonder live on German TV in the year of my birth. The denim is amazing.)

The prologue: Kanye West Runaway
Just the video:

Anyway. This video is on heavy repeat at hour 70 of the work week. Its dope as fuck, plus its kind of like apologizing to the family that you are neglecting. Also, I don't want my daughter to be a ballet dancer, but if 15 years of devotion and hard work (and parental neglect) could lead to her being En Pointe in a Kanye video (dope as fuck) I might sign off on it (no I won't). Anyway - Come January this is my blog. Then I will no doubt disappear for 5 years and forget my login once again. But I think now that intense dude knows I won't be presenting a paper on gentrification of exurban areas of China in Beijing maybe I'll start using that email address. makes me feel kinda like acid washed jeans. FWIW Stevie's denim is immaculate.

January. The month of music.

Fuck Austin City Limits....Stevie owns Berlin.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Road Marches are Fun?!

A couple months ago, Ocean stood on top of Mt. Spokane.
Not sure what was going through his head but something clicked, and shortly afterword we sat down to plot his training for VT 100 in 2015.  He needs a sub-12h 50M by fall 2014, and though he’s not one to do organized races for training, I convinced him to sign up for Bataan Death March in 2014. Since doing it “light” in 2010 (see 3/2010 entry), I’ve wanted to go back and do it “heavy” (w/35 lb ruck); it would be all the more an experience with a pack, and with a teammate.

After a summer of mental and physical sluggishness, got back into routine so that I wouldn’t break my Quadzilla streak (4th one done 2 weeks ago). But despite running 2 x 50 milers and a 60k/26.2 double in under a month, I’m losing the Battle of the (middle-aged) Bulge. I had dropped 30+ lbs when I started running 9 years ago, but slowly 15 of that has crept back on. Maybe it has something with my diet, like the fabulous Bacon Brunch I had while in New York last month

(yes that’s 3 types of bacon with a biscuit/ bacon butter and unlimited mimosas, bacon mac & cheese,
followed by bacon brownies.... mmm)
OK I just had to find some excuse to post those bacon pics for posterity.

Last week’s Midweek was my first march with 35 lbs since last DC. Ocean and I walked about 4 miles, while Dyno grilled paninis (apparently he didn’t get the road march memo and didn’t bring any shoes). I could not even put the pack on my own back without assistance. Nothing like a 35 lb pack to slap some reality into you. Despite the best intentions of going on evening road marches, did not get back out until Thursday.

The sheet of ice from the morning had nearly melted but it was still treacherous, I had visions of lying on my backpack like a cockroach, with a broken vertebra and unable to get up. The 6 miles with 16 lbs took me nearly 2 hours. The Dearborn steps don’t mess around…. but the view from the top never gets old either.

Not sure when I decided I’d do this week’s run (Ghost of Birch Bay Marathon) with a pack, maybe when Ocean decided he would come along and do his own road march. I picked 17 lbs as a nice round number approximating half the weight I would eventually need to handle, though it was a slight cheat because some of the weight was water. I started 20 min early on my own, concerned I might not meet the 6 hr cutoff on this hilly course.

Shortly before the half, I was passed by 3 of the Usual Suspects, other MM women I see nearly weekly at races, talking about who will be at this year’s ATY, but they stopped to chat and take a pic….

Got through the half sub-3, promising. 2nd time going up the big hill I was passed by Cheri (MM #12) and her friend Rich from N.C. (MM#1776). I put away my latest game of “words with friends” on my iphone and scrambled to keep up with them. They are both in their 60s and hard core. Cheri has been BQing for over 20 years, has done nearly 400 marathons in every state and continent, multiple WS100s and VT100s, and still runs 4:20 marathons. Rich has done over 400, every state and continent 4x including 42 countries, and just ran a 4:10 a few months ago at age 63. They met on the Inca trail some years ago and have done runs on Kilimanjaro and Antarctica together. 

I ask Rich what was his favorite marathon, it was in Nunavut Northwest territories, where he saw actual polar bears on the course! I get to pick their brains about planning the logistics of finding a run to do in Sweden/ Norway the week after Comrades in June. And finally after several miles, he asks about the pack.

“I’m training for the Bataan Death March in March”

As it turns out, not only is he a retired Colonel, but he did the march heavy and in uniform in 2010, the same year I did it, in 7:42. He did at least 4 marathons with a pack to train for it, including a 4:20 finish with a 10.5 lb pack. His advice was to use sugar packs wrapped in duck tape, because the granules are soft/ mold to your back unlike the canned goods they recommend. I tell the Colonel about my fascination with the military, and my agreement with Ocean that in reality, I would not last 5 minutes in the military, as I can’t handle the slightest discomfort. I’m a whiner and proud of it. Cheri shakes her head, doesn’t think people who dislike discomfort do things like run Quadzillas or marathons with backpacks. It’s easier to run with company, managed a negative split with 5:27 finish. It's not as bad as I feared, and it sure felt good to take the pack off. I realized how much better I would feel if I lost that extra 15 lbs. But is it worth a life of no bacon?

Afterward, the Costco Hotdog at the finish line which makes those Northwest Ultras among my favorite low-key events. Ocean has done 18 miles with his 35 lb pack and tells me he feels like he was just crushed between one of those junkyard compactors and can’t wait to curl up in fetal position.  We start to feel human again after Ranger Candy and coffee at the Starbucks drive-through, ready for a Grapefruit ride the next day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend 2013


Dear Papa Ventoux and Dyno:

Growing up, I was taught movies like Kramer vs. Kramer, Terms of Endearment, Driving Miss Daisy, and Beaches were quality movies. But as an adult, while attending BRS events in Eugene, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of quality movies. Specifically, the whole Fast and Furious franchise. I just heard the news and I'm very sorry for your loss. 

Just got back from Bend, OR with Dyno & Co. Met Dyno's parents for the very first time. Quality folks! We might have to do a biking-swigging (beering) event down there sometime. 

Congrats to Gerald for completing her fourth quadzilla? Also, I just found out there's something called an ultra-quadzilla. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Code Brown

First blog post BUI.  Code Brown is a nasty culprit during a race.  At the 2013 Autumn Leaves 50-miler,  I had to hit this porta potty past the turnaround on the course; which added 1/4 bonus miles with each of the two occurrences.  Spent an extra 10-15 minutes with such culprit during the race, but still managed a landslide PR.  At today's Seattle Marathon, Code Brown was attempting to make an ugly appearance at mile-23, but I managed to hold him off until I finished the race and drive home upon which I was left sprinting for the toilet; barely managing to lift the seat up and play Finchie from American Pie.  With Pendleton and Full Sail Amber at my personal beckon, I managed to finish out the day shining.  Now I have just 20 days before my sub-4 hour attempt at the 50k race distance; which was screwed up last year by you guessed it--Code Brown.

Hey Ocean,  pretty flipping cool you want to run Vermont 100 in 2015.  That, along with Gerald's runs out there inspires me to join the party!  Personally I'm burned out on 100's, and would prefer to run just marathons, but I can't help playing roulette with my amigo, Code Brown.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

2013 TdM & 2013 NMN

Ok, all in all the 2013 TdM was a lot of fun. Just the right amount of hills, and beer, and DITY cooking. Here's the playlist for 2013 NMN. Enjoy!

Friday, November 1, 2013

50 Years

I searched for a good 50 years image for this post, but this one was my favorite, even though it refers to marriage only. So, the past weekends I've been to Bellingham, Spokane, Wilsonville / Portland (great meet-up with Papa V), and this weekend I'm off to Chicago. Ocean Sr. is celebrating 50 years at his current job. Since I'm both proud and amazed at such an accomplishment, I've included the following link. Fifty.

Relatively speaking, I've been traveling a lot, so I'm really looking forward to next weekend, back to Mukilteo, where there will be the ninth running of the Tour de Mukilteo. A quick note, last month I completed Dido, and now I'm working through something I call ?SC-BMW. I'm mentioning this only because it's what helps me continue to grow. Without BRS, there's no Dido or ?SC-BMW.

Obviously my dad's passion is teaching. If you do anything for fifty years, there's gotta be a passion embedded somewhere. So it hit me. BRS is about six years old. How cool would it be if I were able to enjoy forty-four more years of bush-league tennis, biking St. Andrews, road marching, painting rocks, and over-swigging? Ha! That's truly my passion in life. Stoopid challenges, with stoopid friends. As long as I'm experiencing that day-in, day-out, I'm pretty certain I can handle all the rest of it.

So, that leads to my final point. 2013 NMN CD's are due. Oh, and Happy Birthday Papa V tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Twelve days into Dido, and this is pretty much all I've got...

Hey Gerald, hey Dyno. Check out the very bottom of the BRS Calendar. Yup, that's right.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Professional Friend

2 months off and back into running "just" marathons, and I gotta say, it feels good. It took my 3rd DNF at VT100 to make me realize life's too short to spend trying to run100 milers, and who my true friends are. After running in the rain at Bellingham Bay this morning, talking with Ocean over pho' in Lynwood, he recounted a conversation he'd had with Omaha. To paraphrase, he said, "if I won the lottery, I'd retire and become a professional friend". Brilliant. In my mind, Ocean is already that.
Next week's BRS roadtrip, return to Spokane for the Mt. Spokane 50k, LeChat bread at Rosauer's, hike at Riverside or possibly my old stomping grounds on the bluff trails. And oh, I propose we all start playing the lottery ASAP.

Near Nature, Near Perfect....

Friday, September 27, 2013

Crab losing a claw

Sure it was nice to get haircuts only once a year and not be called "sir" all the time.  But my hair was getting to be a weed, my home was starting to look like a long haired cat lived there. Time for a change.  At first I was just going for a trim so I would no longer get poked in the eye or get snagged on stuff. But if they were going to take 4 inches off, why not a foot?- let's do it! I thought of my friend JLO who has been donating her hair serially to Locks of Love for years. It's an organization that uses donated ponytails to craft wigs for disadvantaged cancer patients who have lost their hair. My hairdresser told me they only required 8 inches so was able to leave me enough for a small ponytail, but when I got back to the office and realized they require 10, I thought, what if it was only 9.5 inches? I was pretty anxious until I nerdily raced home with my tape measure and found with relief it was 12 inches, whew!

I am a crab that has lost a claw. And I don't mean the hair. The claw will grow back.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Last night had a really fun midweek meet-up with Dyno. Finally found the hard to find Lazy-Boy Brewery in Everett. So, I'm embarking on a challenge that I'm calling Dido. If you are curious, just ask me, and I'll fill you in. Who better to kick start it off than Mr. Dy-no-mite himself?!

Also, a friendly reminder. 2013 NMN due date will be Oct. 31st this year. 15 songs pre-1982, 1 song from 2012 or 2013. 8 letter animals.

Lastly, the ninth running of the Tour de Mukilteo will be held sometime in November.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

BRSCI-XIII: Loop around Hood Canal (Labor Day Weekend Aug 30-Sept 2, 2013)

Text from Ocean. He and Dyno were on their way over to kickstart BRSCI. I knew I had to get out of the Yurt before the merriment ensued or no chance of catching up on work. Slogged through a pile of charts in the stuffy, un-airconditioned office then got home at 8:40 Saturday night. My BP was 175/95 despite my BP pills, but that was about to change: there was homemade banh-mi and movies waiting, and still a sliver of Pendleton left.

Not sure why we had to get up at 5 AM since the first water taxi from Seattle was at 8:30, but that is the way Ocean rolls. Not sure if I got any sleep except I think I remember dreaming. Went to Glo’s, a dive on Capitol Hill with mirrored walls, which serves huge breakfast portions with questionable ketchup freshness starting at midnight. There is nothing in life than better than that first cup of AM coffee and eating a lot (preferably with bacon), then biking a lot, then eating a bunch more washed down with whisky.

We took off early to Pier 50 just 2 miles away, to catch the first West Seattle water taxi.
The day started out cloudy, but dry for the ride around the West Seattle coastline.

Dilly dallied looking at giant purple starfish and such. Just missed the 9:15 ferry, so perused posted adverts for upcoming rides, including the “Passport to Pain” where a guy in a white coat points out the course on Vashon resembles VTach on an EKG, or the “Edible Pedal” which tours peninsula farmlands and is catered by Chef Dan. Caught the 9:45 ferry from Fauntleroy to Southworth.

Plan was to ride from Southworth to Belfair, then stop for lunch. Dyno had an elaborate route all mapped out so we could avoid highways, but…. left the cue sheet at the Yurt… Doh! So he puts in an earbud connected to his phone GPS and we’re on our way.

It is hard to lug gear- sleeping bag, tent, clothes, snacks… had not ridden Raul since, well the last time I’d been out here, on the 3 ferries ride 8 months prior. Little hills that would not have been anything on Davey were starting to provoke anxiety attacks. Before noon, I was starving; luckily there was a taco truck.

Shortly after that, Mechanical #1. While Dyno was exploding one tire and using the last spare tube, Ocean confirmed what we had suspected when he kept stopping to text someone, that he was bailing. He had his own anxiety issues, having been hit by a car on a ride one month ago. That long stretch Hwy 106 had some shoulder, though ¾ filled with gravel, and occasional unpredictable stretches with no shoulder. Cars and trucks go fast on that road, and everyone and their mother with RVs and boats seemed to be in a hurry that day. It had stopped being fun for him. We dropped him at a gas station just before the junction with 101, and he settled down to wait for Mrs. Ocean to leave her golf game and pick him up in 2-3 hours. Later we heard, in a minor BRS miracle, his old friend CW whom he had not seen in 6 months called at that moment to see what he was up to. She happened to be in Belfair that day, so she was able to give him a ride home.

Of course, as soon as Ocean left the roads got much better, and traffic thinner. The next part until Dosewallips was probably the most scenic, with smooth winding roads and cool sunny evening weather. Made good time to the campsite. I don’t know why I can’t spell Dosewallips. Dosey…. Doci…. Dosewallup… wallips

Found our spot, #67, pitched our tents,
took a swig of some of the finest Kentucky bourbon one can find in a shatterproof vessel, then headed off to Geoduck Tavern in Brinnon for dinner. Got to sit outside and look at the silver water while eating burgers and debating which was the less worse beer, Corona or Heine, since their tap was out of order.

Back at camp, getting the fire going was not easy, even with the help of Evan Williams. After several shots went to fuel the fire, I wandered over to our Good Samaritan fire neighbors who gave me paper bags doused with cooking oil, which did the trick for kindling. Pretty soon the whisky and beef jerky were gone and it was time to retire.

Next morning I awoke to loud chatter in Vietnamese coming from the next tent. Opened my sandy eyes, 6:45 AM, sun was up. I was still wearing my jacket, lying upside down on my sleeping pad with my sleeping bag just covering my feet and the pillow on the other end of the tent, next to… a pool of vomit? What, I don’t even remember puking. I turn to the other side to grab my shoes to go pee, and there is another, even larger pool of vomit. I look around. Luckily the projectiles had mostly missed my belongings but there was spatter and chunks everywhere inside my tent. Oy.

Climbed out of the tent and saw Dyno, who was looking a little green himself, heading toward the tents. The neighbors had woken him over an hour prior. He hadn’t puked yet, but apparently needed to (and did shortly after). It aint a BRS event without puke somewhere in there. He comes up with a plan to get the puke out of the tent so we can pack up and go. When there is no paper/ soap, wash with rocks. It took a little while to get cleaned up and head out.

Luckily closeby was the Halfway House. French toast stuffed with ham and cheese for Dyno, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns for me, a pot of coffee between us. In my stupor I had forgotten to turn my phone off so it was nearly dead, but I saw Ocean had texted. When were we expecting to arrive in Kingston? Maybe he could meet us there with the car. I was a bit miffed. Why, that’s 90% of the way home, why would we want a ride back to Seattle at that point? I texted back he should meet us with his BIKE in Edmonds, around 1. It got crowded quick. A lady stepped up to the counter and started chatting with Dyno. She spoke of how she sure felt for this cyclist she passed just starting up the base of the Mt. Walker when she drove down from Quilcene. We nodded and smiled, but afterward, we were both like, “You know where that is?” “Nope. You?”

We were about to find out. After about 2 miles of climbing, “this must be that mountain that lady was talking about”. Not steep but it kept going up and up…. But the long descent past many campsites in the Olympic National Forest sure was nice, especially with the disc brakes! Plans already to camp in one of those next time.

After another bit of highway, Dyno stops to consult his phone map. “we could take these 2 highways to the bridge, OR (glint in the eyes) we could go on an adventure”. Well, who could say no to adventure? We decide to zigzag local country roads, adding a few extra miles but subtracting a lot of cars. At first it was nice, rolling roads lined with trees, quiet enough to hear ourselves whistle show tunes. After a long stretch, I hear, “turn on your first left”. But there was no left turn. There was one long climb, and another, still no left turns. “I think we missed it”. “Over here!”. Backtracked to find Dyno at the entrance of a private property tree farm. “Let’s see what Raul can do on this”.

I could tell right away this path was not going to be fun. I would rue the moment I ignored my inner voice telling me to turn around, but I didn’t feel like repeating those climbs. Loose gravel became loose rocks. Every time I put torque on the bike to climb, the bike slipped and felt it would tip over. The bumps jostled the rear end of the bike and my butt felt sledge hammered, but if I got out of the saddle, felt like I would tip over. Descending, the tires slipped on loose gravel and I could not swerve to avoid rocks without scary feeling bike would tip over. So I walked. I know Dyno just could not believe I couldn’t ride on such a benign trail, on such a tough bike, but I really didn’t care what Lance Armstrong could do on Raul. I was used to getting that reaction from trail runners who just can’t believe people who suck as much as me really exist. I felt like I signed up for the Chicago marathon and suddenly found myself in a James Varner trail run.

On and on for over an hour. “we’re nearly there, just a short connector back to the highway”. Then, dead end. Barbed wire. 

Undeterred and ready to be done, Dyno wanted to go around the barbed wire fence. “I don’t think they’re going to prosecute a couple of cycling tourists”. But something told me this was not a good idea, so we tried to find a way around.

I had only a ½ bottle of water left, I could feel my neck sunburning, all my chocolate was melting, both our phones were nearly dead, endless rows of trees. Dyno still sounding chipper, “we’re headed in the right direction”. Another hour. Then finally …. PAVEMENT! Was never so happy to see a highway. It was already 1:15, so Dyno texted Ocean to yes, pick us up in the car in Edmonds.

It’s still another 1.5 hours to the Hood Canal Bridge. Coffee stand lady in Port Gamble generously fills our water bottles.  Then the painted stripes lane indicating proximity to ferry and food….. at the Grub Hut where there was cheesesteak with jalapenos and fresh cole slaw, and the best GD diet coke ever. 

Another couple of touring cyclists approached us. They were locals who were very familiar with the route, and had some suggestions for their favorite multiday ride, in the San Juans. They had raised their family on bikes and had just had the joy of teaching their grandkids to ride. We pretended like we intended to ride the Burke Gilman back to seattle but were too glad to meet Ocean and the car on the other side. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Guess It's Tennis?

So it's been a little while since I last posted, but I've actually done a lot. Guess I'll recap by sharing my highlights / discoveries over the spring and summer of 2013...

I like to challenge myself. Constantly. Day-in, day-out. Recently, on a bike ride up zoo hill, it occurred to me while Gerald yelled in the distance, "We are not riding up zoo hill!? No way in hell!"

Everyday is the Davis Challenge. Dunno why, but that's just how I is...

With that said, the absolute hardest thing I've done over the past several months was play tennis against Ennui. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was more challenging for me...

Ocean Jr. graduated HS. Awesome. Visited him in Maine this summer. He had his first major job busing tables at two restaurants. He made/saved some good scratch. Awesome. Now he's at college enjoying college life. Awesome. Me & Mrs. Ocean have an empty nest. Awesome! Brought Dyno up to parents' place called Summer Rest. Fun and Awesome. We met up with Gerald to support her at VT 100. Gotta say, our training runs from Muk to Ev and Ev to Muk were the most awesome for me. Also, I had an awesome time in VT...

While still on the family front. Mrs. Ocean. Being able to be myself, and make my mistakes, and be confused, and also have the freedom to do the stuff I do with my friends even though she doesn't always like/agree/understand fully what I do, is amazing to me. I really cherish and value being able to re-certify trust with her. It's constantly ongoing, but it's so important to me. Damn, 20 years. That's half my life...

Walks. Talks. That's my MO with Skirtsteak. Everett waterfront is my favorite place for that. Coffee is always an added bonus. I contemplate non-stop all day long. Seriously. Ennui recently said, "You find meaning in everything. Even in a goddamn Wendy Williams show". Well, contemplating is one thing, but sharing it and sorting it out, and applying it in real life in another thing. Those walks help me with my personal blind spots...

My most relaxing spot is Deception Pass SP. I discovered that place because Gerald dragged me to a James Varner trail run. What she doesn't know is that I've returned to that spot maybe ten times since. With family, Ennui, Cindy W, and Dyno and kids. I swear there's something in the air there!

Grapefruit rides. So much fun. Ennui, Gerald, Omaha, and also solo rides. I love the whole range of emotions. Whistling Zippity Do Da on the departing ferry, always turning to F-You Davis, and then ultimately to, wow that was fun. Thanks! Like Gerald says, "You are pretty good at bringing out those emotions out of people". I agree. By the way, for the record, Ennui is a drama queen...

Best home away from home? No question. No doubt. Huh? What? It's the Yesler Yurt. Also, I just realized that Ennui & Gerald share the same sense of direction. Easily lost. I love whiskey shots, cable tv, lounging, and just some quality conversations. At the yurt you can be open, yourself, everything. Good. Bad. Pukey. Combative to the point of breaking your own sunglasses. All of it.

Wrapping up. Summer ain't over yet. BRSCI Xiii and MS 150. Then the 2013 TdM! New & Improved. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

First S24O

I've been slowly assembling a bicycle touring kit, one doesn't need much - a tent, a sleeping bag...a bike I guess (have enough of those)...and a little gumption. I finally bought a little 1-2 person tent (2 if you are cozy) that would fit on a bike, and picked up a down bag a few weeks before that. With nothing really to keep me from going I just decided a pick a date and GO. I had been thinking of going mid-week, and while a camping adventure might not seem like the best idea for middle-of-the-work-week it had some attractive features as well. I could just leave an extra change of work clothes there and my office has a full locker room with showers. The plan was to bring my camping kit to work with me on my bike, work the day, then take off for the Thursday night, return early the next morning and shower for work (Friday), then take my time getting home after work that night. Once the plan was set, just had do it, no excuses not to, right?

Ugh, from the moment I left work on Thursday afternoon until well after I got back to the office Friday morning, it rained. It Poured.

I figured I was well prepared enough so I didn't deviate from the plan. I left the office around 4pm, picked up a couple banh mi from my favorite lunch spot near the office (I wasn't planning on cooking on this trip) and took off. My destination was Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, about a 30 mile ride from the office. I didn't reserve a spot but I figured it wouldn't be a problem on a deary Thursday (it wasn't, plenty of room at the campground) but this way I wouldn't have to locate a never-before-visited stealth camping spot. The ride there was fairly uneventful, the bike nav app on my phone got me there just fine, even along some unpaved trails that I wouldn't have found otherwise (pic).

About 8mi out of camp I stopped at a Freddies for a couple 22s. Picked up some new-to-me beers from Harmon Brewing (Tacoma, I think?). It was still raining pretty hard and starting to get dusky so I pressed on to camp. Once there a quick loop around the campground to pick the least puddle-ridden spot. The tent pads were all demarked with a wooden retaining edge, in most empty spots creating a fine lake to camp on. I found one that looked a little higher and dryer than the rest (but still very very wet) and quickly set up camp. My tent goes up in about 5min and I unpacked the rest of my gear and threw it inside as quickly as I could. Snapped a quick picture of my campsite then dove inside myself. I changed into some slightly drier clothes and cowered inside for the rest of my stay. Ate a couple sandwiches, drank a lot of beer, read a little, monitored the perimeter of the tent for leaks (it's a decidedly 3-season tent and this was pushing the envelope into the 4th season) and eventually turned it. I slept fairly well (drunk) but awoke at around 4:30 (normal wake up time for me) and It Was Still Pouring. Ugh.

Ok. Tear down camp in record time, put my wet cycling gear back on. Oh great. The dry pair of sock I had saved wound up stored in a leaky part of the tent and were water logged. Well, at least they are wool and On they go. Tearing down camp goes smoothly enough, though I hate putting away so much kit this wet and muddy. Just means that I have to pull everything back out later to dry out, oh well. I snapped one more picture (with my apparently blurry-lensed phone - looks sad, no?).

Back on the road the return trip is actually quite a bit quicker. It's a lot more downhill, though very gradual. There is one half-mile section of very steep (10%+ grade) where my loaded bike pace slows to a crawl, but otherwise is a nice return trip. Snapped another pic (blurry-lensed again) on the trail. I arrived back at the office before 8am and was able to slosh and trudge to my cubicle before most of the office arrived. Grabbed my dry Corporates and headed down to the showers. As miserable as my camping trip was, its better than a day at the office! and it was nice to break up the work week, I regret nothing. Though I'll certainly wait for a better forecast for next time. Next time will be soon though - Can't waste these long summer days!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sri Chinmoy 24 hour run (Sydney, Australia June 15-16, 2013)

I'd seen the name Sri Chinmoy many times in association with various endurance runs that involve running a short mindless loop for insane distances. Apparently he was a spiritual leader born in Bangladesh in 1931, orphaned at a young age, who became a spiritual leader then immigrated to NYC in the 1970's, was an inspiration to musicians (like Carlos Santana) and athletes (like Carl Lewis) and politicians (Gorbachev and Mandela), eventually nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. He was vegetarian, didn't drink/ use drugs, celibate (though if you met him after marriage, you weren't required to become celibate) who knew the meditative and "self-transcendence" value of ultra running and established the Sri Chinmoy marathon team.

I knew I had to find a run to do if I was going all the way to Australia for a meeting, and this is what fit on the calendar. I had done only one 24 hour run before at PacRim 2010 and at that time only intended to run 50 miles under 12 hours. This time I had the stated goal of 100 miles under 24h.

I spent the bulk of my first day in Australia scoping out the public transportation to the Blacktown International Sportspark, a former Olympic training grounds, where the race would start Saturday at 10 AM. It is about 2 -2.5 hours each way if you don't get on the wrong train. Stopped for a coffee and bottle of coke, nearly $8! Race day awoke at 4 AM, started carefully applying body glide, tape to feet, packed drop bags. Debated whether to take my BP pills or not, and decided to take a double.

You had the option of either 24h or 12h to run as many times as possible around a 400 m track. There were only 39 runners in the whole race (>25% were over 50 yo), which was apparently the Australian National Championships, meaning most everyone there was fast. Immediately I set up a borrowed table between a runner named Karen who did 100M in just over 21 h despite an injury, and the eventual women's winner, Larissa (who did 193 km that day). A walker, Sharon, who is the national walking champion along with her husband Justin who broke the walking record that day,190+ km/ 24 h, gave us her race report from the recent world champtionships in the Netherlands. They advised a strategy of taking it easy in the daytime heat (Sydney has palm trees, it is 70 degrees even in the shortest day of the year this week) and cranking it up at night, when it is in the 40's. They swivel-hip walk faster than I can run and barely look like they are exerting themselves. They just look like normal people aside from all their leg muscles. I got the usual, incredulous, "you came all the way here for this?"

Had 90 minutes to set up my own personal "aid station" which is what I could carry in a backpack. Changes of clothes, Hammer perpetuum (which raised some eyebrows at airport security), coca cola, salt and vinegar pringles, gu's, extra body glide, PB + J sandwich/ 2 bananas. Karen, who had also taken a train, had 2 bags and at least a dozen flasks of different liquids already set up. Everyone knew everyone already."You do a lot of these? (24h races)" It seems the races are a bit fewer and far between compared to WA. I think they thought my goal of a mere 100 miles was cute, but Australians are very low key and polite.

It was a beautiful sunny day, a bit warm (upper 60's) for a compression shirt but I knew the chafage savings would be worth it. I didn't know the runners so couldn't tell who would eventually win... sometimes a runner would take a break for hours then come back fresh, and end up winning after 24 h. Some seemed really strong at first and quit after 12 or 18 hours. Some walkers wearing tropical shorts eventually ended up going a lot farther than I did. I swear, I wish I could walk fast. The eventual winner Trevor ran in a tank top and shorts (until the very end when it was low 40's and you could see your breath) insanely fast but would take long breaks in between, never looked tired even at the end.

I took it easy; I gave myself full license to do as poorly as my body dictated, but quitting early was not an option because there were 14 hours of darkness (5 days from the shortest day of the year) and there was nowhere else to go at that hour anyway. The thing about "self-transcendence" runs is, apparently they do not allow runners to socialize unless they are walking on the outer tracks, it is illegal. So I turned on my tunes early and just people-watched. I used to think the idea of a 1 mile loop was monotonous, but surprisingly this 400 m track (about 3 minutes running easy pace) was actually not bad, the repetition was meditative and even changing directions every 4 hours was somewhat jarring after awhile. The hardest part was wrapping my head around the idea of 403 laps, or when brain dead at midnight considering that I still had over 150 laps to go and 7 hours more of darkness. The sun went down by 5 pm, and it got cold fast. Was under 10 hours at 50 miles but started to crash and burn right away; I do not do well after dark, even with the blazing stadium lights on. I took a caffeine tab but it may as well have been popcorn- no effect.

Started to struggle even before 8 pm. There was a volunteer in a green hat (learned later his name was Milos, actually I think he was crewing for his GF who was running the 12h run, which started at 10 pm), who knew all the runners by name and every loop yelled words of encouragement all night. He was tireless, trying to get me back on my feet after my numerous cat naps, fetching hot drinks or once even pulling me out of my chair. It's amazing, how even the simplest words of encouragement are gold to someone who is feeling so shitty and confused.

Also saw a fellow MM #1883, Jc who was on vacation and on his quest for 7 continents (he only has Africa left, already did 50 states and 100+ marathons), just doing 50k of the 12 hour run. We discussed various MM we know, he kept me company during my "zombie" hours, his wife and friend cheering us each loop. Everything at the aid station tasted like curry and was vegetarian, which was fine until the bowels let go. They asked me what they could get for me, soup? porridge? coffee? tea? but I was too confused to answer.
I had to do 403 loops of 400 m to meet 100M. Even at 20 hours I thought I had a chance. Was texting Rob and Ocean with what I'm sure was incoherent babble at rest stops. At 21 hours I knew that though it was still mathematically possible to do my sub 24 100m, but I did not have enough gas in the tank, so sat in my chair sticky and freezing for a 45 min cat nap.

The sun started coming up around 21 hours. It was still freezing cold. I had no goal but to keep moving, and just walked. Then in the last hour I decided to run again, finished at 370.3 meters, or 91 miles. They gave us sandbags labeled with our numbers (which looked like dope) to drop in our last lap so we could get credit for every last metre, which they measured with a wheel. Apparently I missed the awards ceremony where all the finishers got trophies (even 6th place). Picked mine up later from Jc.

The 2 mile hilly walk back to the train station was a true death march. Bought a greasy burger so wouldn't bonk in the 2 hours back to the hotel. There was no food there and I nearly cried with the thought of walking to the mall for a sandwich. After a shower and 6h nap, my BP is the lowest I've ever seen, 96/56.  but little chafage and the feet look good and ready for next weekend's Wellington marathon.