Sunday, October 4, 2015

End of Summer 2015 and NMN 2015 - 10 letter animals

I can't believe I've lived in Lakewood, WA for one whole year now. Time does fly when you're having fun. I closed out my year with another visit from First Class. He was all over the Puget Sound doing photo work for a few weeks. Weather was good, and we got in some quality tennis. Mostly at the PLU campus. This visit my record was 5-1 in sets, but we both improved our games a lot. I also enjoyed watching with First Class the Eugene Ducks losing twice.

Ok, now down to business. This year's NMN will be to assemble a baker's dozen of songs. 3 songs from a favorite single artist or group. 5 songs to workout/exercise to, and 5 songs to chill out/relax to.

Just email me your list (to keep anonymity) and I'll post it on Spotify. We are now up to 10 letter animals! Deadline will be last day of November.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Summer 2015 (2nd half)

When I first moved to Mukilteo, I ate so much steak from Misty Isle Farms, my wife told me I should retire on that damn island. Well, on my August Vashon Is ride with Gerald today, I discovered the world headquarters. Only problem is the farm moved to AZ...

Got home from my ride, thought I'd take a pho-nap, but instead got motivated, and planned out my next year of physical activities & events. Earlier in the week, I skipped three days of workouts, and started going nuts. I snapped out of it by playing tennis and my new joy pickle-ball...

I checked the blog, and realized I had ridiculously high blood pressure in Oct 2013. Mar 2014, I was starting to get normal range readings. Well, 1 yr and 10 months later, I finally have maintained a 3 month average of normal readings. Not too bad...

Hoping to get in a DC this Feb, and to get Papa V to jumpstart the EO again. A half-marathon in the spring would be doable, and an official or non-official ride of the Passport to Pain next Sept would be challenging. I also think a misc activity/hike/adventure would be nice next fall...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

bikerunswig Summer 2015 (1st half)

So about 3 weeks ago, 1st Class tells me he’ll be in Tacoma for a visit. I figure about 3 days. Nope. Try 3 weeks. All in all it was really like 2 weeks, because he went up to Lopez Is for a few days, and I left for a few days to go to Oregon.
So the 3 weeks were a lot of fun. Our schedules were a bit off, his bedtime was 3am, and my wake-up was 4am. Also, 1st Class was quite busy working. Work in Lacey, Auburn, Lake Washington, and Bellevue. We played plenty of tennis, my record was 3-4, but the quality of play for both of us went up another level.

Of course, we also got in our tv viewing. We saw the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, Novocaine, Silicon Valley, The Godfather, Armageddon, The Kelly File, and a George Harrison documentary. I also caught him watching alone Jersey Boys, The Other Woman, & Magic Mike, and of course his daily go to, “Today, Kathie Lee & Hoda”.
We survived the heat wave, and even managed an awesome bike ride in Orting. Also, enjoyed some good meals. I perfected fried calamari, and we even got in a dinner at the yurt with Gerald. Grilled salmon, corn, bread, & mashed potatoes. We ended the visit with our normal eggs rolls and pho at Vien Dong.
So next up was 4th of July weekend. Road trip with Gerald! A marathon run for Gerald in Tigard, followed by a 10k run for Papa Ventoux, Anna, Gerald, and me in Eugene. Really thankful Gerald suggested the 10k back in April. I actually trained up to run 6.2 miles, and definitely would not have without the event to look forward to. Spent a couple days at Papa V’s house enjoying family time. Lots of arts & crafts, magic show, water fight, dog walk and birthday celebration. Pizza, grilled trout, scallops, tacos, and ice cream cake. I did not go hungry. Said our good-byes, and went up to Portland to go shopping. Had an hour to kill and ended up learning the definition of Forbearance. Ended the weekend with a bike ride on the Chehalis Western Trail. We took it west to Woodard Bay. I even managed a couple intervals on the return. That got my heart rate up.

forbearance [fawr-bair-uh ns]

the act of forbearing; a refraining from something.
forbearing conduct or quality; patient endurance; self-control.
an abstaining from the enforcement of a right.
a creditor's giving of indulgence after the day originally fixed for payment.
Then this weekend Papa Ventoux came up for a short Seattle visit. He stayed at the yurt, ran Discovery Park, visited Pike’s Market and then crashed at my place. Cooked at home, went out to the Tacoma waterfront, and then the very best part, we ended up playing blackjack! It’s been a long time since I played, and it’s like riding a bike. Mostly, it was just a lot of fun playing, and we even saw Macklemore dealing craps. I guess 1st Class & Papa V have a “Pay It Forward” thing going between them. Kinda like Starbucks where a driver pays for the coffee for the next driver. 1st Class left a Ninkasi for Papa V., and then Papa V left a can of Sapporo for 1st Class. How thoughtful.
Ended the weekend with a 9 mile jog to Seward Park at 5am this morning with Gerald. I realize I bikerunchow with Gerald. In just a few days, we visited McDonald’s, Starbucks, Baja Fresh, Kornblatt’s Deli, Newman’s Fish House, Tacoma Szechuan, and the Skillet. My belly definitely likes that. Next up? I’ve got to get my biking legs back. An August ride on Vashon Is.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why we run (Copenhagen, Comrades May 2015)

Last year’s Comrades was supposed to be one and done (like my first marathon, ha). As soon as I got there I met loads of runners from all over the world who were there for 3rd, 4th, 5th Comrades, like a college reunion, with a passion you don’t see at other running events. They all told me you haven’t done Comrades until you’ve done both the up and down courses, they are totally different. Plus, if you complete your 1st and 2nd year races consecutively, you get a special B2B (back to back) medal. You only get one chance. Moreover, this year was the 90th anniversary run for this, the world’s largest ultra, they expanded the enrollment to 24,000 from the usual 18,000 (about 22,00+ enrolled), a special even larger race with a special medal.

I am not good on hills or hot weather and there would be plenty of both (7000 ft up, 5000 ft down). Most runners go 20 min slower on the UP run than the DOWN, and I didn't have 20 min to spare. This year they extended the course by ¾ of a km due to construction, for a total of 87.72 km. I needed all the help I could get. I resolved to stop drinking the month before, and train on hills. This turned into stopping drinking the week before, and running a couple ultras the month before. Then it turned into not drinking the night before.

Still I was strangely anxious, I was in the habit of just showing up at the start line and seeing what happened but something told me that wouldn't work this time.... Maybe it’s just age…. or the fact that all my times are slower this year,
or as simple as I remembered how hard it was last year, and that was the ‘down” run. Uncharacteristically I prepared my “kit” night before, another first.

At least I thought I would combat jetlag by arriving the week before (and I could get to the expo before all the good souvenirs sold out). So I met Jenny, Vivian, and Sabine in Copenhagen the weekend before and ran the Copenhagen marathon, before traveling to Durban.  It is like a cross between Sweden and Amsterdam, with the biggest, (elevated!) bike lanes I’ve ever seen with their own speed signs
(62% of the population bike commutes), which I got try on a Segway tour,

a huge amusement park in the middle of the city, and the famous "Little Mermaid" of Hans Christian Andersen. I think it may be the world's cleanest city, opulent palaces and $$$.

Though it took 2 days and a 12 hour layover to get to Durban, it was still a shocker going from summer in Scandinavia to winter in Africa.  I was feeling a bit down after saying bye to the nieces. Susan my Canadian twin was not going this year, but running the entire Comrades course in sympathy on a treadmill while watching live streaming of the event. She had all the elevation programmed in. 

I didn’t feel like doing safari again so instead signed up to see more of local (Zulu) culture and Lesotho.

My tour guide was a native South African. He was a man of few words (not necessarily a good thing when you’re touring alone) and coughing/ sneezing the whole time, which made me paranoid with the race coming up. As we passed King Shaka airport, I asked him about King Shaka. Shaka (pronounced “shaga”) was born the illegimate son of a Zulu chief and a beautiful single woman, Nandi, on the eve of his marriage to another woman. He got his name “Shaka” which means stomach beetle because even when her belly got large, his dad denied the pregnancy, saying she must be bloated from the stomach beetle. Though he did take in Shaka and his mom, Shaka the illegitimate child was apparently mercilessly teased which led to his developing his fierce Napoleon-like personality which made him such a feared warrior. He is credited with inventing new battle techniques that united the once scattered Zulu villages, much like Napoleon. Apparently he handed the British their first defeat on African soil. My tour guide wondered aloud what this country would be like if Shaka were not assassinated. Clearly he was very proud of his heritage. Shakaland was built as the set for the 1980’s TV series “Shaka Zulu” and is a sort of “living museum”.
I totally have to watch Shaka Zulu now.

Walked around Durban city (and got lost for a bonus hour), the contrast with CPH was striking. There are tons of hitchhikers in the middle of nowhere, throughout the countryside outside Durban and Pietermaritzburg. I had heard it was not safe to be out alone after dark, and I don't think the big "T" on my back would help me.

The next day the tour guide picked me up at 6 AM to go to Lesotho.  

All I knew of Lesotho was it was the round country surrounded on all sides by South Africa. It was a 3 hour drive to Underberg, and when I got out of the car, it was cold enough to see my breath. It was 85 degrees in Durban but we were at altitude now. I wondered how a country like that maintains its economy… diamonds, not sheep….
Then it was into a 4 wheel drive SUV for the remaining 2+ hour drive up rocky roads through the Sani-Pass in the Drakenberg mountains (a UNESCO world heritage site), the only road to the Lesotho border.

It was just over marathon distance but the last 13k was switchbacks of up to 20% grade. Until the 1950s it was a single donkey wide; apparently the SA govt spent 8 yrs trying to pave the road in 3 stages, when they got to the middle section, a rainstorm blew the entire road away in 2 days, so they gave up. Our tour guide who was from Lesotho was quite chatty. You could tell he used to be a ranger because he kept stopping to point out animals way in the distance I couldn’t see.

We passed a man going down the mountain on foot. “He is one piece short of the full box of chocolates” he said. Apparently the other villagers make him go >1000 ft down the mountain every day for firewood in exchange for booze, as they lived above the tree line and there is no wood in the village, and back up. The air is thin up there at 2874+ m and he was not carrying any water. I wanted to get a photo of him and the tour guide explained we should ask him permission. When we passed him on the way down, he stopped to give him an apple from his glove compartment. We also passed a runner doing repeaters up there. Apparently last year’s Comrades champion trained there, and there is an actual marathon (the “Sani Stagger”), 13.1 miles up and 13.1 miles down.

We entered a Lesotho hut where he told us the story of how the country got its independence and how they defeated the Zulus by setting traps on the mountain. The king was given a cone-shaped hat to represent the mountain, which has become a symbol of Lesotho.

We had lunch at the highest pub in Africa where I got to sample Lesotho beer

I was pretty wiped out when we got back around 6:15, but I made it to the expo before closing and I got a bunch of souvenirs before ordering room service, a local specialty called "bunny chow" which seemed to be curry in bread bowls.
The next day I went on the Comrades bus tour. This is where they drive the course and point out the landmarks, such as the wall of honor (any finisher can buy a brick for their name),
the Comrades museum (where you can see memorabilia from past winners like Arthur Newton who would ride his bike from Capetown night before,
and see a 3D topography of the course, if driving up the 7000+ ft of elevation on the bus didn’t scare you enough)
and visit the Ethembeni school, a school for disabled children which is independently funded by donations, such as those from rich international Comrades runners. Apparently Comrades is like the highlight of their year, they sing traditional songs/ dance and they can get like $25,000 in donations.

I sat in front of these 2 Americans on the bus lamented that I felt sluggish from sitting on tour buses all week running only once on a treadmill due to it being winter here (sunrise 6:40 and sunset 5:10). I wanted to shoot myself after 5k but I had a friend who was running the entire Comrades course on a treadmill. “Oh, the Canadian?” Apparently she is a FB celebrity!

That night was the prerace dinner where I got to see friends from last year’s Comrades, whom I had also seen at the Hoka Highland Fling 53 mile run in Scotland last month. Sadly also missing was Pete who had come all the way to Africa from England but was not running due to a fever and headache bad enough to send him to hospital. Caroline from SA won 6 bottles of wine and had brought a bottle from her wine cellar, shared the wealth.

The Park Run (free weekly 5k on Durban beach) Saturday again had like 2000 people, but the usual suspects were not there this year. It was again hot (85+ degrees) but race day forecast was supposed to be cooler by 5-6 degrees, chance of showers even. It was nice to get out….

This time the race start was ½ mile walk from hotel rather than 60 mile drive away, so I could sleep in until 4 AM and still easily make the 5:30 AM start. Ate leftover pizza for breakfast and dilly dallied before heading out into the muggy dark.

Something felt off from the beginning, not enough calories? I didn't want to eat anything, except the bacon offered by some Aussies grilling at the side of the road. I ran into a fellow MM who asked if there was food on the course, there was some in the 2nd half but he had not even brought a gel! I gave him some of mine that I probably wasn't going to eat anyway.

I had the strategy of going out slow, shuffle-walking the hills (there are half a dozen major hills, 85% of which is in the first 50k) so I would have something left for the end. Trouble is, even if I start slow, I manage to get slower. The 12 hour bus (pace group) passed me at 5:45 just at the halfway mark (even sadder than being passed by the guy running in a giant puffy rhino suit), and I knew I was in trouble once I lost sight of them, it is demoralizing to be dropped by a pace group or pace line, infinitely harder to catch once they are gone. With a marathon left to go, I only had to run a 5:30 marathon to still finish, most of the hills done, but I already felt doomed. It was then that Pete’s wife Mylene passed me, looking strong in her only 2nd ultra and would eventually finish. 

But as the day got hotter, I got slower and slower, my mind was distracted and the yawns started coming. I desperately wanted a Starbucks but instead ate a crap load of coca cola and didn't eat anything much. Nothing specifically wrong but every time I tried to go faster, I got dizzy. The crowds were incredible, loud, and energetic throughout the course but the encouraging words and random “welcome to SA” greetings from runners were thinning as I barely made the 4th cutoff by 1 minute and people behind me started dropping out due to futility.

With 28km to go I realized that it was now mathematically impossible to finish unless I sped up. This was the moment that divides true Comrades from others, to toil on with everything you’ve got, with no guarantee of success? Was I just lazy or as people have said, “really good at not caring”?

My one and only chance at back to back gone. Well it would not be the first once in a lifetime opportunity lost, and it would not be the last. Oddly I felt lighter once I decided to fail. I decided at least to get as far as I could get to the top of the last hill, the famous Polly Shortts; they would have to pull be because I was not going to drop. I don't think there's anything real noble about continuing on at this point since all I was doing was keeping the volunteers longer, but I just felt like I wanted to see what the last hill was about.

About km 68, already mathematically impossible to finish under the cutoff, and I happened to see a runner lying on the ground. He was stiff as a board, apparently his legs both decided to cramp at the same time. This gentleman was from Namibia and running his first, and 2 black South African runners (one of whom was also running his first, the other was C-corral seeded and running his 6th) were standing over him. I pretended I wasn't a doctor and tried to offer him a pay day bar (salt) but he couldn't eat anything sweet, and to stretch his leg (he screamed in pain so I desisted). I gave him a sip of water and some advil and the 4 of us waited several minutes for the ambulance. I knew he would be ok because he was mentally very clear, though he could not move without triggering cramps. We just kept him company. It is easy to be generous when you have nothing to lose by helping out, would I have stopped if I had just 5 min to go or not finish the race, especially with 2 guys already helping?

Then the other 2 runners took the DNF van but I kept going. I looked behind me and there were literally 2 people behind me because everyone else had taken the DNF van. Finally just before polly shortts (8 km from end, last hill) the van gave me no option but to stop since I had already missed the last cutoff. 

Also in my particular van was a 70 yoM trying for #30 (triple green bib), and at least 1 other runner going for his back-to-back, as well as several novices and more experienced people. I sat between 2 young guys, a Brit who joked this was the farthest he'd travelled for a training run, and a SA man who wondered how he was going to contact his ride since he left his cell phone with his friends; we tried to call from my phone but no answer. Once we got in the park, which took another 1/2 hour, there were mobs of people trying to locate their families, no traffic control, sheer chaos unlike the Durban finish.

The van driver told us we were to walk our chip over the "bail mat". But instead of following the rest of the van, I booked it for the porta potty where I learned that I had been drinking too much and eating too little. Then it was to find the so-called "bail mat". The clueless volunteers led me this way and that for nearly 45 minutes, and finally I happened upon the medical tent where volunteers (rightly so) impatiently took down my chip # while trying to take care of actual sick people. All around were people limping, lying on the ground, being carried by loved ones, even. The there was a mile long queue for the buses to Durban because it was gridlock exiting the park. I so desperately wanted to get on a bus that we actually walked 1/2 km to buses stranded outside the park, only to realize they have NO TOILETS on the bus. I thought I could get by with crossing my legs but no. 

This guy sat down next to me who was really chatty, but I was practically grunting with the effort of not peeing in my pants, and I knew there was at least 90 min drive back given the traffic. He told the bus driver my situation, and at first opportunity, the bus pulled over so I could be on the side of the highway. There were a shit ton of cars but I didn't care. I peed out like 2L, cars honking, and probably sprayed my shoes judging by my smell when I got back on the bus. My chatty seat mate was almost more than I could handle but I was so grateful that I didn't have to shove something down my pants like my water bottle and hope for the best.  This guy was apparently the LAST PLACE FINISHER wow. He is from Capetown and babbled on an on, about how he entered 5x/ but DNFd 2x, including his last up run 10 yrs ago where he missed the finish by 6 seconds! I remember seeing him on the course, but he made the Polly Shorts cutoff with 5 min to spare, sprinted the last km in 3.5 min. He was full of stories like how he was mugged at the ATM en route to Comrades and they took the last 200 ZAR (about $20) in his account, how he is sharing a hostel room with several other runners for $6 a day, and how many runners in SA dream of running Comrades but cannot afford housing, transport, or registration fees for the required qualifying marathon. He also babbled on about how he met all these famous people including Obama and other celebs when he worked security for the SA military, stuff about SA politics, I was dizzy trying to stay awake. He asked for my contact info; I pretended I was not carrying my phone but did give my real #.

I finally had my post-race pigout followed by airport beer. I did feel a little lame wearing the race shirt with zero leg soreness, among hundreds who clearly had run hard. Had I really given it my all?

Reading the community newspaper special about Comrades there were plenty of articles by people who had DNFd, including one by a woman who DNFd her 12 th Comrades and was comforted on the bail bus by a man who had DNFd 3 times and had yet to finish a single one. There are many tales of runners forfeiting or nearly forfeiting their own races to help a fellow comrade across the line, like the idea of the race when it was forged by military vets in 1921. Like other ultras, it teaches you to be grateful for the kindness of strangers, respect your fellow runners, and be humble, but of my 250+ races (78 ultras) to date, I have to say Comrades is unique. People from hundreds of nations, all walks of life, all ages, and very proud South Africans. I won't pretend I'm not disappointed, but I do feel like I got much more of the Comrades spirit by being in the DNF van and talking to locals than last time, and already hope to go back.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 DCCDT

The 2015 Davis Challenge Central District Triathlon will be held on Saturday, April 4th.


  1. 2.4 miles canoe or pedal & row (not sure yet which is funner?)
  2. 112 miles bike
  3. 26.2 miles run
  4. cooking competition
  5. swig competition
  6. paint rocks
  7. wii events
  8. darts
Events will be held at Green Lake, Seward Park, and at Spiz's sandcrawler. 

Team #1:
  1. Gerald
  2. Spiz
  3. Dyno
  4. Omaha
Team #2:
  1. Lyssa
  2. Ocean
  3. Papa Ventoux
  4. Pat *(if available - if not, Frank Shorter)
  1. Alyssa

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 NMN

Ok so all the official entries have been submitted. The only way I can see all the playlists is when I do this:

1) log in to Spotify under the username: bikerunswig
2) password: bikerunswig1

Under new playlists the following should be found:

1) cornsnake
2) honeybear
3) bandicoot
4) groundhog
5) jackalope
6) cotton rat
7) wolverine
8) polar bear

Happy listening!

Monday, January 5, 2015

10 Below (Phoenix AZ to Rossland BC, Dec 30, 2014-Jan 4, 2015)

My 3rd ATY (Across the Years, a fixed time ultrarun near Phoenix, see 2/26/12 entry). I had again signed up for the 48h run with the initial stated goal of sub-24h 100M + any bonus miles, which quickly downgraded to getting any buckle at all, given my current level of fitness. Many friends were going to be there, Karen (from Australia), Francesca, and Diana were doing the 6-day, Jill and Susan (my Canadian twin) were doing the 72h, the kind of class reunion I would actually go to.

It seemed like every single crying baby in America was flying to Phoenix for New Years. Waited in long lines and picked up a rental car smelling faintly of stale cigarettes, drove to Target and bought sunscreen (which I would not need), spicy limon Cheetos, beef jerky, 2 bottles of red wine with screw-top lids, cornstarch to keep the foot rot at bay, and mini shampoo which I forgot to pack.

Susan had saved me a tent next to hers and Francesca’s. I walked a few (illegal) laps with her as I was not supposed to start until the next AM and pacing was not allowed until after midnight. She showed me the propane heater she brought. I knew it would be cold (highs 40-50s, low 27) but even after freezing in past years, I foolishly thought I could get through with just 5 layers of clothes and the sub-zero sleeping bag that Ocean got me for my b-day years ago.

New Years Eve opened up as a 42 degree rainy morning. I struggled to get to mile 35 by sunset, whereas I would normally be at mile 50 by 10h. I decided to change to dry clothes and get a quick nap before it got too cold, then try to move through the night.

Ran into Jill, who had already done 151 miles in a 48h run a couple months prior, but was just off her 200M/ 72h goal. She was so caffeinated she had not slept in 48h so I decide I’d rather pace her than slog alone. We will do 2 loops together, she will lie down and close her eyes for my solo loop, then repeat. The temps dipped to freezing and we talked about anything and everything to pass the time until midnight. We saw Susan in her penguin hat, we put on matching party hats and rang in the new year with champagne and bourbon-flavored cigars, resolving never to spend NYE alone again.

Susan was already beyond 100M and I was able to convince her, since she’s Canadian and all, that 200km was a noble and attainable goal. Jill pointed out that with only 9 miles beyond that she was in contention for 3rd place overall and that was the end of that; we didn’t see her again until the last 10 min when she sprinted past us to take the 3rd place 148 mile finish.

Though I had slept 8h the previous night with the help of vit Z (ambien, aka zolpidem), I was starting to weave and wake up further down the path without clear recall of how I got there. At 5 AM I laid in the heating tent for 20 blissful minutes before Jill got me back on my feet.

The sun came up clear and cold on Jill’s last day. She had been leapfrogging the 1st place woman, a 25 year old being crewed by her parents. Doing reconnaissance I figured we were only ½ mile behind, and if we could lap her in the last half hour and not look back, Jill could win. The 25 yo was wearing the puffy silver coat, looked really tired, leaning to the side, walking with her parents. Victory was in sight, then suddenly…she disappeared. She had done a 12 min mile, then finished with a 9 min mile. Well, we weren’t going to top those 25 year old legs…. But Jill did get a distance PR (182 miles) and a respectable 2nd place overall only 1.5 miles behind.

We headed toward the showers (though I still had 23 hours and a marathon at least to go to reach 100M), and I said, “gee wouldn’t it be nice if we had a beer?”.  Like magic we saw these 2 bearded dudes overheard us and said, “hey we were just going to get some beer from our van, want one?” They live in their mobile van and travel around the country just doing hard ass ultras. Beer angels, they DO exist.

After Jill and Susan got their awards, I had a 4 hour nap, then was left with the task of doing a mere marathon more in like 14 hours. Doesn’t sound hard but the cold was brutal once the sun went down.

I tried to lie down but no sleep after 2 hours, I had to pee desperately so got up with my sleeping bag and went to the warming tent, where I saw a few hardy souls on night #4 of their 6-day huddled in front of the lone propane heater. It was not enough to stop my shivering so went to the food tent to get some soup. There were more angels, volunteers in their down coats staying up all night just to feed the runners. One plunked me in front of a heater and handed me a hot cup o soup while massaging my shoulders, another wrapped my legs in blankets. They were runners too, they could see the hypothermia in my eyes and they had been there too. I saw Francesca in her shorts, discarding her down coat after getting her blisters treated, and setting off in the frosty night to her 325 mile 3rd place finish.  I was at 92, only 8 miles to go, feeling sorry for myself, what? Time to get it done. I got to run a couple miles with her (me on my first day, she on her 4th), and we looked up at the starry sky between our frozen breaths and she said “this is peaceful”, and that is all that needed to be said. 

I make it a point to never be in town for my birthday, and was contemplating where I would go after ATY. Timing is everything. I was surfing for plane tix to visit the folks in Chicago when I got an email from Francine (see 10/14/12 entry). I had an open invitation to visit her in Rossland, BC. What if I went snowshoeing after my 48h run? It was on.

Another lucky bit of timing, I convinced Pat to drive up from Tricities, pick me up at Spokane airport, and join our snowshoeing group. We stopped by Huckleberry’s which was unfortunately all out of LeChat bread but had plenty of specialty beers (including Trois Pistoles!) and wines to bring with. It was dark and snowy on the windy road up to Rossland, just north of the border, near the Red Mountain ski resort. Got there just in time for a warm, home-cooked meal while listening to Francine’s incredible race report of her last 100M, the Ghost of Yellowstone, filled with the usual snow, pouring rain, 20,000+ ft elevation gain, and evil people who take joy in pulling trail markings off trees knowing ultrarunners will get lost and possibly die of hypothermia, followed by chocolate mousse cake, hot shower to de-cake my post-100M funk, and sleep not in a freezing cold stinky sleeping bag on the floor! 

Saturday morning late breakfast with bacon and probably the world’s best scrambled eggs, local Rossland eggs cooked with butter in a cast iron pan (note to self, Must Order Cast Iron Skillet IMMEDIATELY), and 2 cappuccinos made with Hendrik’s refurbished commercial espresso machine and foamed milk that came from a glass bottle. When I commented that cheek muscles I didn’t know existed were twitching, I was informed that each cup had the equivalent of 3 shots of espresso. No wonder it was so #*$&^$% good.

Hendrik is a level 4 ski instructor who patiently helped me figure out the buckles on my brand-spanking new snowshoes from REI that I bought in the excitement of moving to Spokane in 2011, but never used.  We drove up to the trailhead and headed up the trail. 

It was a clear, sunny day with fluffy snow making snow sculptures on the trees. I did my usual pretending to stop to be a Japanese tourist so I could catch my breath on the climbs trying to keep up with Francine. We reached Sunspot after 1 hour.

These 2 dudes, one of whom was named “Booty”, had built a couple of A-frame cabins with steel stoves up here, where skiiers could warm up, well-stocked with kindling though restocking is always appreciated.
Saw a random skier and his dog, it is amazing that people ski down those steep slopes with very close-knit trees and tight corners, like trail running?
Hendrik says sometimes there is enough snow to cover all those trees! We signed into the “logbook” and had our Kootenay sandwiches, grilled cheese cooked on the stove, with tea and hot cocoa from our thermoses.
I put on another layer for the descent, and we did a little side tour to another viewpoint, stopping to pull some green beards from the trees and jump squealing on our asses into some 6 ft snow banks like her grandkids, watching fluffy clouds floating by.

Then it was back to the house for… a 17 lb brined roasted turkey dinner
with homemade gravy and mashed turnips, while drinking craft beer and listening to Robbie Robertson and Neil Young. Suddenly my housing Francine at the Yurt for Quadzilla seemed kinda lame in comparison.

Next morning, more amazing face-twitching cappuccinos with French toast swimming in Canadian maple syrup and sausage. We had discussed going out again in the snow but there was a winter storm watch and we had a 3 hour drive back to Spokane, a flight to Reality I had to catch, so we left in the morning.

We got to Paterson Border Patrol pretty quickly.
“Getting into the US is easier than getting into Canada” I state confidently.
The young agent asks us, “where were you?”
“Snow shoeing in Rossland”.
“Where are you from?”
“Tricities and Seattle”.
“How do we know each other?”
“We’re in a group call the ‘Marathon Maniacs’” (one eyebrow raised).
“Can you show me your car registration?” [Pat pulls out his ring binder].
“You have a ring binder? OK turn off the engine and pop the trunk”.
Luckily all we had was a bunch of gourmet pasta and olive oil/ balsamic I had bought at the only grocery in Rossland, Ferraro Foods which happens to be owned by Italians and carries some fancy real Italian stuff.

We made it through the border then the serious snow started. Pat dropped me off and drove 3 more hours home, I caught an earlier flight before they shut all the flights down. Got home to this:

Thanks, Ocean. Looking forward to the next season of BRS. Not sure I can pull off another Drynuary but it’s still an inspiration. Happy New Year!