The Rest of the Year

I haven't really talked about this because I have been slacking, but one of my goals this year was to sign up for a 50 mile race. So I did. I signed up for the Dick Collins Firetrails 50. So I already accomplished my goal, right? Just kidding; the goal is actually to RUN a 50 mile race.

I would like to say that I found an easy training plan, printed it out and have been sticking to it ever since, but I would be lying. I did find a training plan. It ranges from 20 - 60 miles a week and includes 5 days of running a week. But following it? Not so much. It's like everything caught up to me all at once and I am having trouble keeping up. It's totally my fault and it's fun things, not hard ones. For instance, I joined a softball team. One night a week until October, we play, and there are possible once a week practices as well. I have also been going hiking with a friend once a week. Then there are weekend trips and all of a sudden, 5 days of running gets harder and harder.

Last week I was supposed to run 48 miles. I barely ran 30. Actually I ran 31.5. And yes, I am totally counting the point five. In two weeks, I will have to run that many miles in one go. Am I ready? I don't know. I have a race in two weeks and a few other races on the schedule which hopefully I will be ready for, as I did do a lot of training over the last few months. However, lately I don't feel like it is enough. Why is it that we as runners always doubt our training when it comes down to race time?

Here is what is coming up over the next several months.

1. Squamish 50k: I am really excited about this because I will be meeting up with Amber on her home turf. It will be good to finally meet her and I am also really proud of her because this is her first 50k! She is going to do awesome and I am really looking forward to joining her and running in a really beautiful area!

2. Headlands 50k: This race is very close to me and is on another of my favorite local running trails in the Marin Headlands. Even though it's in August, the weather here is usually (knock on wood) not too hot, since there is the marine layer and the fog and all. This will be a great training run for the 50 mile!

3. Firetrails 50 Mile: This is literally in my backyard! Okay, it's a few miles away, but it really is on the trails I always run on and I can run to them right from my house! I am excited to run on familiar trails, as sometimes when you don't know the area, the course can seem longer than you would like.

4. Marine Corps Marathon: It seems like so long ago that I signed up for this! I am running it with a couple of guys who I ran The Relay with; one is from Texas and the other is from Philly and we are going to meet up and make a weekend of it. It should be a lot of fun, as I haven't seen them since the race and they were really fun to hang out with then so I am sure it will be a repeat of that (minus the stinky van and the baby wipes).

So I am trying not to slack, but it's been hard, and it's also been difficult figuring out a schedule with long runs and taper and races all together. I know I can do it but sometimes I just get nervous about things.

Do you write to do lists or make schedules? If so, do you always follow them to a T? What's your strategy for fitting it all in?


Limited Time & Another Soup

Lately it's been...well...summer time...and it's been full of fun things on both the weekdays and the weekends, which means limited time to plan and cook meals. So I have been doing what I usually do, cooking one big pot of something and eating it throughout the week. I always like making soups; they are chock full of veggies and are a great way to get a nutritional meal in a relatively compact way.

I know summer is not really the time you would normally think of soups, but this soup is so good and it's made from fresh summer squash so you really can't get much fresher! I also love it because you can cut everything up the day before and just put it all together when you are ready. Also, once it's in the pot, you can "set it and forget it" for a while. It's really no work at all!

Summer Squash Soup*

1 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup onion, diced
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp jalapeno, diced (I used a diablo pepper instead)
1 1/3 cup celery
2 cups gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
dash white pepper
4 cups chicken broth
6 cups yellow summer squash
1 tsp oregano
.5 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

(PS I didn't have turmeric and it was still good)

Heat oil, add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapenos and cook for about 2 minutes. Add everything else but the turmeric and let boil for about 30 - 40 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Add turmeric and put in blender / use immersion blender to blend everything together.

You can put half of it into a gallon freezer bag and flatten it and freeze it for later, but it also keeps pretty great in the fridge (1 week +).

*Recipe from here

What recipes do you turn to when you're busy? What is your favorite summer recipe?


Your Pace or Mine?

This weekend I attended my first 100 mile race. It was so inspiring to be amongst such greatness. However, I did not run the entire 100 miles. I was a pacer.

A pacer, if you are in a marathon, can be the difference between your making your goal time or not. They keep you going at a steady pace, not too fast, not too slow, in order to finish at your desired time. I suggest you use one if it's your first time, or even if you have a time goal that you are not certain you will make.

Got my race bib on

However, in an ultra, pacers can be just that, someone who helps you keep pace, but they can also be much more. In the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile race (TRT100), you are allowed to have someone run with you for the last 50 miles. Like I said, it's to help you keep pace, as there are strict cutoffs at each aid station, but it's also to keep the runner safe, make sure they get enough to eat and drink, monitor whether or not they are getting woozy or tired or loopy (and all of these do happen) and to be there as company for someone who has probably been out on the trails for around 24 hours (or more). You don't want them to get stuck in their own thoughts too much!

The guy I paced was a friend of a friend; we had never met before. By the time I met him, he had already been running for 80 miles and about 26 hours. I don't know about you, but that would probably not be the best time to meet ME for the first time! I would be Grumpy McGrumpster. And nevermind trying to carry on a conversation with me!

Which is what I expected of him. Here's how I saw it going. He would be super tired, grumpy, negative and silent. I would have to keep pushing him to run faster, and would try to be cheerful without being annoying, all while talking non-stop in order to keep him awake, and not expecting him to say anything back. I thought I may have to force him to eat and drink while listening to him complain of blisters and sore feet and tired legs and blurred vision and hallucinations. Okay that last thing was a joke.

But seriously, I thought I would have to be a one woman cheerleader, and I was never a very good one of those. However, things were not like I thought. Here is how it went.

We met at 7 a.m at Diamond Peak, which was the 80 mile aid station. Fuel there included pancakes, coffee and soup. I had sat there for about 2 and a half hours waiting for my runner and had seen many people pass through who were absolutely exhausted. Others, on the other hand, were chipper, laughing and seemed like they had only run a few miles rather than a few dozen. My runner was one of the latter. After getting him some food and drinks, a change of clothes and a bit of sunscreen, we started up the hill. We left the first aid station 15 minutes before the cut off (7:30 a.m.).

Diamond Peak hill with Lake Tahoe in the background.

As always, the first couple of miles were all uphill. My runner was in good spirits; he was talking and seemed to actually be enjoying himself. We stopped to take in the view a couple of times, which was gorgeous. After we got to the top of the hill, we met up with the Tahoe Rim Trail and headed south. The trail was great. It was fairly level and it went along the edge of the hill with a great view of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake. At Tunnel Creek, the first big aid station, we fueled up with quesadillas and coffee (for me, sprite for my runner) and got back on the road. We left about 40 minutes before the cut off.

Marlette Lake view

Eventually we got to the very top, which was at about 9,000 feet. Getting up there was a little difficult, as we were starting to get near the tree line and the sun was beating down pretty hard. At this point it was about 12 o'clock and the temperature was in the 90s. When we got to the top of Snow Peak, the aid station there was manned by boy scouts who filled up our bottles with ice and gave us a nice cold sponge on the head before we started down the hill for our last 7 miles. At this point we were about an hour ahead of the cutoff.

High Sierra wildflowers

For the final seven miles, we jogged along, not talking too much. We even passed a few other pairs of runners, although we had been leap frogging with a couple of pairs all day. We arrived at Spooner Lake, where the last mile or so goes around the side of the lake and man was it good to see the lake. We could even hear the cheers coming across the lake from the finish line. It was just the boost we needed. We ran the last quarter of a mile and crossed the finish line together.

We made it across the finish line in 33 hours and 17 minutes, a whole hour and 43 minutes ahead of the cutoff, which means my runner got his coveted buckle! I was so proud of him; he didn't complain or lag at all! He really was quite an inspiration! I don't know how he did it! I was really happy to be a part of his successful race.

Are there specific times when you like to have company to boost your spirits? Have you ever been a pacer for a race? Have you ever used a pacer/pace group?


Let Me Ask You Something

I ask a lot of questions. Some people don't really like that. For instance, one person, let's call them X, asked me if I wanted to go for dinner. It went kind of like this.

X: Do you want to go for dinner when I get off work?

Me: What time do you get off?

X: I am not sure. I am supposed to get off at 6 but I may stay later.

Me: Where do you want to go?

X: I don't know. Wherever.

Me: Are we going to walk or drive?

X: Grrr...why are you asking so many questions? I just wanted to go for dinner.

Okay. Let's stop for a minute. I have a good reason for asking all of these questions. For example. I get off at 5 and I want to take a run after work. Will I have time to go before we eat? If we are going at 6, I may try to get off early; if we are going at 8, I will probably stay until 5 and run before dinner. If we are going to walk, I may do a shorter run. If we are going for a large dinner as opposed to a light dinner, I might do a longer run.

But, I realize it may get a little annoying when I don't just say YES sometimes. But I want to be sure about what I am agreeing to before I agree! Otherwise sometimes plans end up not working out the right way.

For example, the other day my friend asked me if I wanted to go for a hike the next morning. I did want to go for a hike, but I also wanted to go for a run, and my original plan was to go for a run in the morning. I had friends coming over for drinks and food at 4 and I wanted to start getting the food and the house ready around 1 pm. So I asked her what time she wanted to hike. She said 9:00 am.

Normally I would ask: Does this mean leaving the house at nine, arriving at the trail head at nine, or starting the hike at nine? Where are we going? How long will we be hiking? But I have been scolded, so I didn't ask anything. In fact, I ASS-umed that the hike would be a couple of hours, which would leave me with enough time to go running, shower and start getting ready for my guests. 

The next day I got up around 7 but decided to wait for my run until after the hike, since if we were supposed to start hiking at 9 we would have to leave the house around 8:30. 8:30 rolled around and we weren't leaving. Was I allowed to ask questions now? I wasn't sure. I finally asked when we were leaving and was told that the person we were meeting was going to let us know when they were leaving the house and then we were going to leave the house. I don't really do well with these kind of time definitions.

We ended up leaving at 9:45, then waiting at the trail head and then to top it all off, the place we went for our "hike" was a paved, flat path with a ton of slow mo families with bikes and dogs. The pace was leisurely at best.

Then we went to brunch and the person we were with had a dog so we had to sit outside so we couldn't just take the first available table and I carpooled so I couldn't just leave and the whole time I am picturing my run getting shorter and shorter and then just withering away.

I got back home at 3. Did I mention that I had people coming over at 4?

I guess the moral of this story is...annoying or not, I am going to ask a million questions before saying yes to anything.

So, let me ask you something: do you care about the little details or are you more of a go with the flow kind of person?


Currently: July

Current Book - Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Current Running Path - Matthieu Lakes Loop, Three Sisters Wilderness

Current Drink - Nonfat iced mocha with whip

Current Excitement - Having a low key weekend in a couple of weeks! I am going to do absolutely nothing but read and drink coffee and eat and lay around. 

Current fashion trend - Maybe it's because I am in Oakland, where there are a lot of hipsters, but these glasses are everywhere! 

Current Favorite Blog/Website - I have been having fun looking at this site. A girl can dream!

Current Garden Item - Holy Zucchini! These bad boys are huge!  

Current Love -Weekends

Current Food - Summer Squash Soup (or zucchini)

Current Indulgence - Happy Hour on a weekday! 

Currently Pondering - Do I want a late night snack? Or not? I think I do, but I will probably regret it after I eat it. Plus I am not really hungry; I just want something! 

Current Mood - Full! I know that's not a mood, but I just ate so much! (although that doesn't stop me from still wanting that late night snack)

Current New Find - Pita Pal's Beet and Jicama salad 

Current Outfit - Broski's girlfriend's birthday party: disco anyone?

Current Peeve - Dogs barking at night. And barking. And barking. 
Current Song - Stay -- Rihanna (I like this one, but I don't really love the video.)


Current Triumph - A long after work bike ride last week after picking up the bike from the shop. I may have to make it a habit! 
Current TV Show -  Master Chef (PS you can watch for free on Fox!) Who is going to win? I vote for Jordan!

Current Wish-List - More vacation time!

Currently Delaying - Fixing broken things, but I am working on it... 

What are you currently excited about?  What fashion trend do you see around you (or do you follow yourself)?


Mt. Shasta

Hiking Mt. Shasta is something I never thought I would do twice. To quote myself the last time I did it: "Sometimes I wonder why people, myself included, subject themselves to such pain and misery". 

It started off pretty ominously. 

The problem with this is that we are hiking up a hill with a 40+ lb pack on our backs...above the tree line. This means there is no shade, so a high of 99 is BRUTAL. To top that off, part of the hike is through snow and the last time we did this, the reflection of the sun off the snow gave me a wicked sunburn on my lips and under my chin. And the last time we hiked it, it even snowed a little! So this was going to be hard. 

6,915 ft* / 0 miles / Bunny Flat: The hike starts just above Shasta City at the Bunny Flat trailhead. After grabbing our poo bags, we started up the trail. Oh, you want to know what I mean by "poo bags"? Let's just say that you have to carry EVERYTHING out; nothing can be left behind. Need I say more? My mom joined us for the first two miles, which ends at Horse Camp. 

Ready to go

7,898 ft / 2 miles / Horse Camp:  Horse camp is the first place you can camp, if you like, and is the last place to get running water. At Horse Camp there is a natural spring where the water comes right from the ground and you can fill up to your heart's content. It is delicious. After this, all water will be from melted snow. Horse Camp is also the last place with a real toilet. After this, business will NOT be as usual. At Horse Camp, we filled up with water, used the facilities, ate a Snickers bar (man, I have not had one of those in a long time!) and said goodbye to Mom. 

Below Standstill Hill

10,430 ft / 4 miles / Helen Lake: From there, it is a semi-flat slog for about .75 miles on a rock path called the Olberman Causeway, which is named after one of the caretakers, who made a 950 yard long rock path from Horse Camp to the bottom of the steep hill. Once we crossed the causeway, the hill went up and was mostly scree, which is a bunch of loose rocks, and is really hard to hike/climb because it's very slippery. After the scree hill came a snowy one, aptly named Standstill Hill, as you are starting to feel the elevation, plus you can only take one tiny step at a time so that you don't fall. 

Helen Lake: Trying to stay out of the sun.

At the top of Standstill hill is Helen Lake, which is where we camped the first night. It's good to camp at a higher elevation in order to get acclimated for the next day. However, we arrived pretty early, as we had started pretty early in the morning in order to avoid the sun. We got our camp set up and then pretty much ate and stayed in the tent reading and talking in order to stay out of the sun. Unfortunately, it is summer and the sun stays out late! It finally went over the mountain around 7, so we had dinner and then went to bed. 

The next morning we got up at 2, ate breakfast and started up the hill. It's best to start early for a few reasons. First, you want the snow to be icy. This facilitates crampon use as well as helping you to get down the mountain later, which you do by sliding on your butt. If it is too slushy, you will not slide very well and you will get really wet to boot. Also, it's hot during the day; you want to minimize the time you spend in the sun as much as you can.

12,555 ft / 5.5 miles / Red Banks: The first mile and a half was done in the dark and was hard. It took us about an three hours, including breaks, and we gained about 2,000 ft in elevation. We were wearing winter clothes and I was sweating inside my coat but it was too cold to take it off. The going was slow. The hill was straight up. It was icy and walking with crampons up a 45 degree angle (est) is hard. In this period, we passed the Heart and got to the bottom of the Red Banks. 

13,773 ft / 6.25 miles / Misery Hill: An hour and 45 minutes later, we reached the top of Misery hill. To get there, we had to go through a chute in the Red Banks. Usually you can walk around the Red Banks, which means more mileage, but it's less steep. However, it does include a hill termed Heart Attack Hill, which we avoided by going straight up the chute. However, the chute was a heart attack and a stroke, so we didn't really get off easy. The chute made Misery Hill, which is usually deadly, seem pretty tame. We took a break between the chute and Misery Hill and at this point the altitude was definitely affecting us. Also, the sun was out and it was strong. I was pretty ready to be done, but knowing that I only had about 1,000 ft left (from the bottom of Misery) kept me going. I was not about to quit now! 

Bottom of Misery Hill: Starting to feel it.

14,129 ft / 7 miles / The Summit: Like a marathon, the last little bit was the hardest. There were rocks, which are no good with crampons on, and I had a headache that wouldn't quit. Also, altitude makes you feel like such a weakling! My whole body was unresponsive and my brain was dysfunctional. I wasn't hungry, which really made me realize that the altitude was affecting me, because we had just hiked for five hours and I should be famished. I was pretty happy to make it to the summit. Once we got there, We we didn't hang out long; we took the obligatory photos and got the heck out of there. At this point, it was about 8 a.m.

It's amazing; as soon as you start to head downhill, you start to feel better. It's like immediate relief. We headed down a few feet, ate a snack and then hiked back down Misery Hill and through the Red Rock chute (which was NOT any easier going down). This is where the fun began. We took off our crampons and got our ice axe at the ready and glissaded down the snow on our butts. The same part that took us about an hour and a half to climb up took us about 15 minutes to slide down. 

We finished our slide at Helen Lake, where we broke camp and boiled a little more snow for water before heading back down to Horse Camp. We didn't really have enough water, which was really stupid on our part. We had boiled a bunch the night before, but we ended up drinking more than expected during the night and so we didn't have enough left in camp for the last leg down. So we made pretty good time down to Horse Camp because we were jonesing for that natural spring water! 

We got back to Bunny Flat at 2 p.m. I was hot and tired and thirsty! We went back to the hotel and took a shower and tried really hard not to fall asleep before dinner (it didn't work). We finally went to dinner where I drank a bunch of beverages and ate like a horse before going back home and going to bed around 7 p.m. 

Verdict? Things we did well: We brought the perfect amount of food. At first I was worried it wasn't enough, but the second day with the high altitude really doesn't warrant a lot of food. We ended up having some left over but not a whole lot. Starting early is a great idea, although it does leave a lot of time in camp the first day. Things I would do differently: Boil more water! Bring a tarp or something to make shade during the day. As much as I like to make fun of them, those ski pole walking sticks would probably be pretty handy. 

We actually saw a few people who did it all in one day. They started at Bunny Flat around 10 pm and hiked up to the summit and back in one day and got back around the same time (or earlier) than we did. I think this may be better due to the fact that you are not carrying your tent etc with you, so your load is much lighter. However, knowing how tired I was on Sunday after four miles less (and 4,000 ft gain less) than them, I am not sure I would be able to do it in one go.

*All elevations shown are from my / Broski's Garmin recordings. 

Have you ever done a multi-day hiking trip? Have you ever been so tired you went to bed at 7 p.m.? What's the earliest you've gotten up in the morning for an event?


If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix it*

*This post is alternately named: Procrastination Breeds Productivity.

I have had several things in my life break lately. Okay, to be honest, a couple of them broke months weeks ago and I have been procrastinating doing anything about them. In fact, am just getting around to figuring out what I am going to do about them. And there is no better way to start getting a lot of things done than a day where you are procrastinating something else.

Case in point. On Sunday, I was going to run. But first, breakfast. Then another cup of coffee. Then laundry, gardening, cleaning the bathroom (you know I am really avoiding something when the bathroom is clean!) and even getting my (2 month late) thank you notes/birthday cards written! And then I really started to tackle the To Do list. This is the list that each week I wipe clean the things I accomplished and add new things onto. Often there are things that I keep avoiding and therefore are on there for months weeks.

So, I started finally figuring out what to do about some of my broken things. I also recently acquired several new broken things, so July is going to be the month of fixing things.

What broke?

New tent. I JUST used it for the first time and then I glissaded down the mountain with it on my back and I ripped it! Luckily (?) it's on the bottom, so I should be able to fix it with just a patch or a piece of duct tape.

Sleeping bag. There is a tiny tear in it. It is not an expensive or great bag, but it has done the trick for a few years. I will probably just keep it until the tear gets too big to bear while simultaneously searching for a good deal on bags. I have actually been looking for a new one for a while, but the combo of lightweight, compact + low temperature = expensive, and I haven't found one in the right price range just yet. I hope my old one holds up until I do.

Garmin. Yup. The NEW Garmin. The strap broke! This is like losing a leg. I have been carrying it around on runs and I will probably send it back to Garmin since it is within the limited warranty (1 year). However, that will mean doing without it for a couple of weeks and I really don't have time for that! I will of course be running a lot, but I also have race weekends two times in July and two times in August so I definitely want it for these. I am not sure how to make this work exactly.

Phone. I dropped my phone in the toilet a few weeks ago. I snatched it RIGHT out (seriously folks; it was only in there for about 1.6 seconds) and turned it off and took it apart (and cleaned it!!) and put it in a bowl of rice. Later I turned it back on and it worked! However, there have been a few glitches since then. The camera makes a strange noise and the photo gallery keeps freezing up. I did not buy insurance and this phone is only about 8 months old, so I will have to just bear it / keep my fingers crossed for another year or so!

to do

Shoes. Have you ever found the perfect pair of black flats and then tried to replace them and it just doesn't work? I had the perfect pair but they wore out so I tossed them and since then, I have bought probably half a dozen pairs in an attempt to replace them. Two of those pairs have already fallen apart! I have searched high and low and spent anywhere from $15 - $60 dollars each and still no luck! I threw the broken two away; there is no use keeping broken shoes.

Car. Remember this? I put a lot of money into this car and it still doesn't work. Now the question is...do I put more money in or do I give up while I am "ahead"? I am on the fence.

Bike. Remember this? I haven't been riding the bike because the chain falls off the chain-ring every time I shift gears. The only gear that really works is a high (difficult) gear. So on Sunday I took a ride to the bike repair shop! Now I just have to go and pick it back up and I am good to go!

Okay, so maybe the only thing I have actually done on this list is the bike (and the shoes), but at least I have gotten the gears rolling, so to speak. This month I hope to figure out solutions for the rest of the things on this list as well! Wish me luck!

What things do you put off doing? Do you have any broken items in your life that need fixing? Do you have any tips for fixing any of these items?


Randoms, Questions, and a Giveaway!

Happy Monday. Today is a random sort of day, so bear with me.

* I am sure you heard about the BART strike. Luckily I was on vacation last week and I missed the entire fiasco, which, I have been assured, WAS a fiasco. I normally take the casual carpool, which means I wouldn't be affected by the BART directly, BUT...all the extra people on the road instead of on the BART means that I would have been affected. So, hurray for accidental beautifully timed vacations.

* You probably also heard about the flight at SFO. Crazy, right? Did you see the photos? I know that people were killed, but I am really surprised it wasn't worse, to be honest. That plane was really badly burned!

* I have a lot of things going on in my life but absolutely no brain power to explain anything. Hence the bullet points. Do you think there is a direct or inverse relationship between the two?

* I went to Oregon for a week. It's just like where I grew up; there are mountains, trees, lakes and rivers. There is hiking, swimming, biking and fishing. I had to drive ten hours to get there. Why is it we drive a long way to go to a place to enjoy ourselves when we have the same thing in our very own backyard?

* Chobani has NEW FLAVORS! They sent me a complimentary pack of their new flavors to taste and I am allowed to give one lucky reader a case of their very own! This is a one day giveaway and it will end tonight, July 8th at midnight Pacific Time. All you have to do to win is:

1. Leave a comment guessing what you think the new flavors are. If any of your guesses are right, +1
2. Leave a comment answering one of the above questions (re: inverse relationships / backyards). +1

A random drawing will be held tomorrow and a winner will be announced sometime this week. 

I hope you all had a great 4th of July and are not experiencing too much of a holiday hangover today!