Thursday, December 29, 2011

Boxing Day Grinches and Will I Survive My 22-Miler

According to the folks at the Houston Area Road Runners Association, I didn’t run a real official race on Monday but tell that to my sore ass and back! Seriously, though, if you want to read about appalling adult temper tantrums go read this rundown of the story. If you’re pissed enough tweet about it or forward it to your friends.

Since my body certainly feels like it ran a real half marathon on Monday, I have been reevaluating my marathon training schedule. It really isn’t an unreasonable schedule – it’s very similar to how I trained for LA in ‘03 (an 18, two 20’s, and a 22). And I was very prepared for that race (negative split on a 75 degree day). However, what I didn’t do back then was race my back down weeks in between 20 milers and then also throw in a mid-week tempo run to boot.

I have never had back issues in my life. Yet as I write this, my lower back, left side, is an achy mother f****r. Not too far away is a sore upper left IT band. Coincidence? I think not.

So, I’ve decided no more racing until Carlsbad. And also? No tempo run this week or next. Isn’t racing a half marathon more than enough “tempo”? I don’t know why this just occurred to me, but, duh. It’s harder than a tempo run. I am going to try to get the same mileage in this week but slower. I ran 5 miles yesterday and felt OK during, but the last mile, the back starting complaining again. I want to survive my 22 miler but the way my back is feeling, I don’t know. It would certainly be annoying to miss my key long run before the marathon. However, I don’t want to end up in a crumpled heap on the 101 calling my husband to come pick my ass up at mile 10.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Operation Jack Half Marathon

Last weekend I completed my longest mileage week ever – 42 miles. Not even while training for the LA marathon in ‘03 did I run over 40 miles that I can remember. As one would expect, I am feeling it. Thursday evening I played Old Woman and tweaked my back picking up a loaded laundry basket. Yeah, who feels like they need to join AARP with her sciatica?

I managed to get through 11 easy miles on Friday and Saturday but I could always feel it there, nagging me (“Haaaayyy. It’s your baaacck, how’s it goin’? ”). So I wasn’t sure what to expect of my performance at OJ on Monday morning.

Christmas day I ate a ton of beef and buttery things (Husband used 1.5 pounds of butter in his baking escapades) and about three-quarters of a bottle of wine (that was reining myself in, by the way). Went to bed at 9pm but didn’t manage to actually fall asleep until 11:30pm. Four AM came very quickly (and apparently this is just when my bachelor brother-in-law in Hermosa Beach was going to sleep). We hit the road on-time at 5am. I had to make an emergency stop both for emergency coffee and also the other kind of emergency, if you know what I’m sayin’ (Sbucks has clean bathrooms, yo).

Meanwhile I get a tweet from Sarah and we both pull into the parking lot at 6:45am, and walked down to the start at El Porto Beach.

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(I lived two blocks from here from 2001-2002. Aside from my apartment being a poorly maintained shithole, it had a small ocean view and you could not beat the location)

I got to meet Julie, a twitter pal, at the check in desk! And she also was doing the timing at the end. Volunteer extraordinaire!

Before the start, Sam and his wife, Tiffany, got up and said a few words about what we were running for – raising money and awareness of autism.

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What stuck with me the whole race was one line Tiffany said – I’m paraphrasing here, “Run for the kids who have to live with autism every day.” I think we sometimes forget how they must feel trapped inside in own minds with this disease.

Then it was time to run! This race was capped at 300 entrants and it was gun-timed. So Sarah and I tried to squeeze our butts close to the start line. We took off right away - I had barely gotten my head phones on! Right from the get-go, Sarah pushed the pace ~8:05. And my legs seriously felt like lead.

You know when you’re running and you feel like the way you are landing must sound and look like a 300 pound gorilla? Just flopping your feet down in the most ungraceful manner? That’s how my legs felt the first six miles. My breathing was ok – but my legs. Man, they wanted nothing to do with this race. I did my best to hang on with Sarah, either next to her or just behind. It felt hard. Which, mentally, was tough because just two weeks ago at Santa to the Sea, 7:55 felt easy. I repeated to myself at least five times “Your legs will loosen up, just keep going. Don’t worry about the pace, you can pick it up later”

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Mile 2.5 we saw Heather who cheered for us (incidentally, she was very quiet on the return at mile 11 – where was the obnoxious volunteering we saw at mile 2?!)

Mile 6 we ran into a headwind and saw a field small rocks all stacked precariously on top of each other along the side of the canal. Sarah decided Heather would think they were creepy. I agreed. Then just after mile 6, she high-fived Sam running in the opposite direction and took off. My legs were still unfreezing themselves so I just let her go.

Meanwhile, my husband found Santa Claus surfing at El Porto.

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After the turn-around things started improving for me. I was landing less like Frankenstein and more like a normal runner. I had been routinely eating my clif shot bloks every odd  mile (I think this is my new strategy – it’s working) and drinking in the hopes I could salvage the race.

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Hello 7:xx splits! Finally. Somewhere around mile 10 I caught up with Sarah. I wasn’t sure if I should try to drag her with me or if that would be annoying and obnoxious. Generally that shit doesn’t work with me, I have to decide to move out of my own volition, so I just said “You’ve got time banked” because she did. Even of the last miles were going to be painful, a PR was still possible.

Then my back decided that it was totally Over This Race. I hung on for another mile, and then we had a hill – nothing huge, but it was still a hill. Maybe like 20 feet or so. Killed my mile 12 split – 8:20. I just hung on for the last mile and change (the change was .23 – I apparently didn’t run good tangents or my Garmin was off).

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Finish line action shots!

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Final official time 1:46:38, 5th female overall (of 111).

Considering how this race felt the first six miles, I am happy with the outcome. It’s my second fastest non-Fontana half marathon time (this whole having to write “non-Fontana” s getting old). Had I not run stupid tangents, I would have been under 1:46.

Apples to apples (i.e. garmin to garmin) it’s only 8 seconds per miles slower than Santa to Sea. With two 20-milers in recent weeks and a PR half marathon, I think my body is a bit tired. This week is my highest mileage week – 44 miles. A 9 mile tempo this Thursday, and 22 miles next Monday. I am SO READY FOR CARLSBAD TAPER ALREADY.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Off to make my coffee, do laundry, maybe hit a yoga class (eh, maybe), and then tile my shower (loving my company’s holiday vacation policy).

Monday, December 12, 2011

2011 Santa To The Sea Half Marathon

I didn’t have any plans to run this race – I was going to run the Holiday Classic again in Loma Linda, but then Schwaggle drew me in with a $38 entry fee. The only unfortunate part of this race for me is the fact that there is no race day pick up (without paying a $25 VIP fee). So we had to drive up the day before – it’s about a 3 hour drive without traffic which meant we had to spend the night. I managed to find a cheap hotel that wasn’t scary in Camarillo right next to the outlets (which we didn’t manage to avoid the next day but wallet damage was minimal).

Pick up was a cinch – the tech tee is cute and we got random good stuff in the goodie bag including a pack of shot bloks and gu chomps. After that we met a friend for dinner and managed to check out two local craft breweries in Ventura (beer=carbo-loading).

I woke up around 5am for an 8am start (yeah, kind of early but I don’t like rushing around). The race is point-to-point, and starts at this semi-historic 101 Landmark – a massive Santa Claus statue right off the freeway.

Thus the name “Santa to the Sea” because you literally run from the Santa to the ocean in Oxnard.

I had The Husband drop me off at the start rather than taking a shuttle. Which was good because it was FREEZING so at least I got to wait in the car for a while rather than in 40 degrees. He finally had to leave and I waited about an hour walking around aimlessly to keep from freezing – I even ran a bit as a warmup. They had the UPS bag check (awesome) so I held on to my sweatshirt until the last possible minute.

After sadly parting with my sweatshirt, I made my way to the chute. There were corral guidelines that everyone pretty much followed – no walkers in the sub 2:00 corrals that I could see. I found myself right in front of the 1:50 pacer and told him I had to stay ahead of him!

We took off and the 1:50 pacer passes me (already?!) but my watch showed 8:11 pace so, it was even a bit fast for 1:50. At some point in the first mile I passed him back. I don’t remember where.

This race is pretty much flat. According to Garmin there is 55 feet of climbing and 112 feet of downhill. There were only a couple hills I remember – one overpass and then another little guy. Most of the 57 feet of downhill comes in the second half. 

Mile 1: 7:58

Err, ok, at this point I figured it was just excitement. It would ease up.

Mile 2: 7:57

Again? I thought I was running slower.

Mile 3 & 4: 7:54, 7:53

At this point I felt great but I was really worried about these splits. These splits are fast. I don’t run 4 consecutive 7’s. Sure it was flat as a pancake, but still.  I ate my first blok here and continued to eat one shot blok every odd mile.

Mile 5 & 6: 8:03, 8:00

Finally! Seriously when I saw those “8” miles I felt a little relief that I had managed to ease up. Even though it was only 6 or 7 seconds slower. We had started running through neighborhoods and were approaching the Oxnard city center. The spectator support was awesome! I had a smile on my face most of this race. For such a small event, I was impressed.

Mile 7, 8, & 9: 7:58, 7:56, 7:57

Again, this had me concerned. Seven of the nine miles I had done were under 8:00. I have been known to start sagging at mile 10 after going out too fast. SO, yeah, I was worried. It was around this point I started noticing who I was running with and wondering if maybe I could catch some of them. Good mental distraction.

Mile 10: 7:51

Yeah, WTF. I do remember this mile feeling hard. I also remember leapfrogging with two women so maybe that made me push. We had pretty much made it to the coastal area and were making our way south to the finish at Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay. I told myself that I just had a 5K and keep the miles under 8:00!

Mile 11: 7:53

Hurting a bit here. We hit the beach path and I passed a guy I had chatted with at the start – we exchanged words of encouragement and I kept trucking. It was difficult to get out more than 3 or 4 words. I had one more female ahead that I thought I might be able to catch.

Mile 12: 7:55

At this point I knew I was going to smash my non-Fontana PR. But the question was how much energy would I have left to give in the final mile.

Mile 13: 7:49

The finish was kind of annoying – we had this narrow path to run down between orange cones and school buses. Only fit one person and I kind of got stuck behind this older guy. I decided to quickly swerve outside the cones to get around him. I could tell he wasn’t pleased but whatever. I had managed to pass the last chick earlier in this mile and this dude was not going to sabotage my effort.

Final .12: 47.7 (6:41 pace)

How I had any kick left, I don’t even know. The announcer read my name and actually pronounced my first name correctly! This resulted in a huge grin spreading across my face even though I was sprinting (dying). The little kick eeked me under the 1:44 mark with a finish of 1:43:56 - 7:56 pace.

Some bad finish line photos to laugh at:

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That’s the dude that I had to swerve around. Sorry, man, these short legs were on a mission.

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(Yeah,  I chopped my hair off last week – donating it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths)

This race was very well run. They had three aid stations with GU. There were plenty of water stops. Mile markers for all miles (most were accurate – except mile 12 which freaked me out – it was at 11.8 miles). Food at the finish was plentiful – coconut water, a jamba juice “apples & greens” drink I’d never seen before (but decided to drink because, hello, free?). Medal is cute and made in the USA (not China).

As for my effort – I am pleased. Sure it was an easy course but I can’t classify it as a Fontana-Easy. It is pretty much flat. 57 feet of downhill over 13.1 miles isn’t very much. So, I consider it a real PR. Yay!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oceanside Turkey Trot–One of my All-Time Favorites

What’s funny about this race for me is that the inaugural year was 2006 and had the real estate market not been so incredibly crappy, I might have been able to say I ran every year of its existence.  I remember seeing it advertised in ‘06 and thinking “maybe if we can sell this house in Lake Elsinore and move to Oceanside, I can run it” – turns out it took forever to sell that house (8 months) and we didn’t move until ‘07. So it’s 5 years running for me instead of 6. And every year this race rocks (even when I didn’t run “fast”).

2007 – 5K – 26:24 – 8:29 pace

2008 – 5K – 30:45 (had not run in like a year) – 9:53 pace

2009 – 5K - 26:19 (was really pushing to break 26  - was bummed it didn’t happen) – 8:28 pace

2010 – 5mi – 38:51 – 7:46 pace (most of this huge speed gain as 15 pounds of weight loss)

We got there a little later than I wanted – 6:30am. We live maybe 5 or 6 miles from the start so it’s easy to push your luck with timing. And I picked up my bib and chip after work yesterday, so, even more reason to dilly-dally. As always, parking was a cinch. Husband started snapping pics as we walked to the start.

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The 5 mile race is the earliest and super-low-key. No lines for porta potties. Plenty of space in corrals (they even have corrals by time! Awesome!).

I was fittering in place just behind the first corral an I found Nicole in front of me! She told me to stop being stupid (in so many words) and get into the front corral with her since the corral I was in was 8-min mile. I always feel weird about getting up front in a decent-sized race. She was going to go out 7:10-ish and that scared the crap out of me, so I let her take off and kick some hiney (and she totally does run on her toes – I am always in awe of forefoot strikers being the heel-striker that I am). We took a minute or two ahead of schedule 6:58am).

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About .3 in I looked at my watch and saw 6:34 mile-split pace (the forerunner 110 doesn’t show real-time pace, just estimated split time). This was too dang fast. So, I reeled myself in. I had planned 7:30 based on the 7:19 pace I ran at Iron Girl 5K.

I saw Nicole pass me again at this point – apparently she had a shoe-untie issue! Too funny. It was so early in the race we were both still able to talk without sounding like we were dying. I managed to keep her in sight most of the race – which was good motivation. I figured she should finish 60-90 second ahead of me so if I could keep her in view most of the race, I’d hit my goal of sub 38.

I felt good most of the race – I think I probably could have pushed a bit harder but I was concerned I would fade (in high school XC & track, I was the queen of going out too fast and fading almost always).

There is one hill at mile 3.5-ish  that is a pain in the butt – it’s short so it’s over quickly but it’s steep so you feel a bit miserable for about 40 seconds. This was the one split I had that was over 7:30. The others were under. I had told myself that if I could get the last mile well under 7:30 with the others at 7:30 I’d be happy.

The last .7-8 or so are along the strand, like 10 feet from the waves. So close that this time I totally got splashed by a big one! I guess it was high tide! Kind of threw me off a bit, was not expecting to get hit by the surf on the final stretch.

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Garmin beeped at mile 5 - 36:41. I was both stoked and annoyed at the same time. I could see that I was not going to make it to the finish line to break 37 but I was sooo close! But then I was happy that I was totally going to kill my last PR of 38:51 and my goal of sub 38.

I crossed at 37:10, unofficial.

Look at this awesome pictures my husband got just after I crossed the mat. I have to keep up my bad-picture-taking streak:

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Those are my home-made ghetto arm warmers – two pairs of Target knee high socks sewn together.

My splits:

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This pace is only 1 second slower than the 5K two weeks ago! The course was certainly easier, but I do think I had some room for improvement on the 5K. Sub 22 might totally be possible!

Afterwards we chatted a bit with Nicole (who unofficially broke 36 minutes!) and her family and then went back down to the finish to wait for my buddy Tony to finish. In years past he has kicked my ass in the 5K, but he hasn’t been running as much lately (and I have been running a butt-ton). Funny how much consistent practice can make all the difference!

I also saw a coworker and former Ragnar teammate at the finish – think I might have beaten him so maybe I can give him some crap about it on Monday Winking smile

Overall, it was a great race. I had The Husband back (he was training in Denver for two weeks and finally got back Friday), got to hang out briefly with some friends, ran a great community race, and had a 1:40 PR in the 5 mile!

Now it’s time for some Turkey!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This Wednesday Is Sucking

You guys. I am so pissed off right now. To the point where I can’t even focus on tasks.

Last week, I miraculously got a phone call from our mortgage holder that we would be able to refinance at 4.5% under a new government program for underwater, responsible homeowners which is awesome. If you’ve been reading a while, I’ve been through all kinds of ridiculous calculations trying to figure out a way to refinance down from 5.75%.

They ran our credit and, again, mine was significantly lower than The Husband’s. I did not understand this and so the broker started looking through the report and saw that the BULLSHIT collections account (if you care to read the full bullshit story) that I got removed through Equifax 2 years ago is still being reported by TransUnion and Experian.

I have been mad since 10am. I even ran a brisk 3 miles on the treadmill (26:15 – fast because I felt it would help calm me down) to shake the anger which resulted in maybe 20% improvement of overall pissed-off-edness. Did not remove my general crotchety feeling.

Supposedly, this won’t affect the loan because my middle score is above 720 (I have 800+ on Equifax, but under 700 on Experian. FRGSKIGLKUYIRLSKGUEHL!). But I have to write a F*&CKING letter explaining the bogus collections account. [shaking head]

Why is it that with credit reporting, it’s “guilty until proven innocent”?!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Survived My 18-Miler!

I haven’t run 18 miles since early 2003. More than 8 years. Pre-marriage was the last time I ran 18 miles. I was freaking 24 years old. So I was a little concerned if I would make it or if I would want to die around mile 16.

At 8:30am-ish, I began the 9 mile trek south down the 101. I figured I’d try to stick to 9:15-9:30 and if I felt good, pick it up at the midway point. Thank God for the Garmin because quarter of the way through the first mile I looked down to see a mile-pace of 8:40. Yeah. Not in the plan to run sub-9 for mile 1. I pulled myself back to the 9:15 range and trudged along. Around mile 2 or so, I left a wind-shielded area to find that we had a lovely headwind coming at us. I think that give the choice to run uphill or in a headwind, I’d always choose uphill. At least I could attack a hill and visually size it up. Have plan of action. Headwind? You can’t see it. It tends to change in intensity.

On several occasions during the first 9 miles, I asked the wind, outloud, to “Give me a break, already!” And also, “You’d better not change direction when I turn around!” Another reason running into wind sucks. It can change direction. A hill is concrete – you go up, then you go down. I’ll take a hill any day of the week over bullshit wind.

So, miles 1-9 looked like this:

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Apparently, Garmin though I ran up a HUUUUUGE hill and then ran down it in mile 1. Not the case, I did not climb 505 feet in one mile. That would be brutal. And ridiculous.

After having a deglet noor date around mile 4, at mile 9 before turning around I had a PowerGel that I scored at the Iron Girl expo. I’m not sure I completely dig the texture, but it is certainly better than super-goopy stuff. It’s really thin in consistency – like almost drinkable. Given that it was free, I liked it well enough.

I started running north and it was like night a day with the wind. I felt like I was running at ludicrous speed (which was just 8:50’s but whatever). Seriously, I had a stupid grin on my face, running uphill with the wind at my back.

Every couple miles, I ate a date and drank some gatorade.

Around mile 14-15 it started to feel like it was getting tiring. All this running. I allowed myself to ease up during mile 15 because I had no desire to drag myself through the last 3 miles as a result of draining my fuel tank.

The last mile, I was determined to run my fastest split – I was secretly hoping to run 8:30’s but I was happy enough to finish with an 8:44 and not be completely dead.

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I’m pretty happy with this run. I had about 3-4 minutes of bathroom break, turn-around break, and stop-light time. So, even taking that into account, I think it went well!

I have no idea what to expect of my first marathon in nearly 9 years. I guess the primary goal is to PR – which shouldn’t be that hard considering it’s currently a 4:26:54.

3 more days ‘til the Turkey Trot! 5 miles… maybe sub 38? We’ll see!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

[Sigh] Mission Inn Run Half Marathon

It’s a wonder anyone still reads my blog with all my complaining about races. But I do have some positives – so let’s talk about the good stuff first!

  1. I finally got to meet Pam! And her husband Rocky!
  2. The weather was great – 50-55 degrees and clear
  3. At $40, it’s a very affordable race. And the medal is decent – not generic & cheesy.
  4. There were plenty of water stops also with cytomax (didn’t see any gu/gel).

I think it ends there.

I dragged my ass out of bed this morning at 4am which was tough. The time change effect has faded so 4am felt like 4am. Took off at 5am – one hour and an uneventful drive later, I was parked. Picked up my bib easily and my goodie bag. So, the goodie bag wasn’t really much of anything. It was yet another reusable bag and a plastic water bottle. That’s it – no samples, trinkets, etc. And no coupons or anything which I actually appreciated (I never find anything useful in there – less stuff to clog landfills).

Last weekend I made ghetto arm warmers by chopping off the feet of a $2 pair of knee socks from Target – with shorty arms, they pretty much cover them completely. I wore those as I hit the porta potties and waited for the start. I took them off before the start since it felt warm enough.

We started on time (if not a few minutes early) and I told myself I was not going to go out like a crazy person and then crash and burn. The first 4 miles were  nice – it was downhill through a scenic neighborhood and then into the park.

Mile Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Best Pace
1 8:15 1 0 50 7:10
2 8:23 1 72 14 6:42
3 8:10 1 27 66 6:27
4 8:08 1 23 65 7:04

I don’t remember too much about these miles other than telling myself to take it easy. Considering it was net down, those splits are tame which was the goal. I started eating blocks at mile 3 – one every two miles.

Around mile 5 we turned onto a bike path along a river (I wonder if it’s the same Santa Ana River Trail path?) and the next 2.5-ish miles were probably the toughest, mentally, for me. It was pretty boring and just straight. Also, it seemed there was a headwind but I wasn’t sure if it was coming straight at us or sideways. We were also going gradually uphill. I felt like I was moving in slow motion.

Mile Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Best Pace
5 8:36 1 3 0 7:35
6 8:26 1 21 0 6:10
7 8:23 1 65 47 7:19

The one good distraction was around mile 6 or so – the leaders doubled back. So, I distracted myself by looking for Pam. I think she was 6th or 7th woman when saw her. The turn around was ~ 7.5 miles. Apparently, last year the course continued further down the bike path before turning around… [foreshadowing]

The next 3 miles felt pretty damn good – the wind was at our backs and it was a gentle downhill. I was actually giving myself props for having cranked out 8:2x’s when I realized it had been uphill with a headwind. It was probably the most pleased I’ve been with my myself during a race in a long time.

Mile Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Best Pace
8 8:13 1 62 44 6:39
9 8:08 1 0 33 7:26
10 8:20 1 0 26 7:08

I was picking people ahead of me to chase down and then pass! I felt good, confidence-wise. We left the bike path after mile 10 and it started getting tough (after mile 10 I always find it challenging). But I told myself – 5K left! Thirty minutes, worst case scenario.

Then I saw the mile 12 marker.

Um.

Where was mile 11? Garmin had not even gotten to 11 yet. I had a bad feeling when I saw that sign. I was really hoping it was wrong. I had energy reserved in the tank.

We climbed a beast of a hill at mile 12 – I just kept telling myself I had to keep running, as much as I wanted to walk. A steep hill towards the end of the race is never, ever fun. I passed a couple more people on the hill and when it was flat, I started picking up the pace again. Mile 12 split beeped and I recognized where we were.  I was really hoping there was some secret extra loop we were going to do. I was cruising along at 8:10 pace – I had saved a can of whoopass for this last push.

Turned the corner to see disappointment personified (objectified?). I have never been so displeased in seeing the finish line. I didn’t kick it in because it didn’t really matter. 

I ran down the chute - Pam cheered for me and I yelled out as I crossed the timing mat, “It’s SHORT!!” Duh, I’m sure she knew, too, but I was bummed and tired and could not restrain my inner Captain Obvious.

Mile Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Best Pace
11 8:21 1 7 0 7:29
12 8:51 1 67 0 7:50
0.27 2:11 (8:08) 1 0 0 7:22

12.27 miles, 1:42:25. 8:21 pace.

It was like a hard run, really. I mean, I guess it’s still a race, but it can’t be compared to anything. It’s not like I knew in advance I’d be running nearly a mile less. I ran at half marathon pace, not 12.27  mile pace.

Had it been long enough, I likely would have finished around 1:48/1:49. Close to a non-Fontana PR on a moderately difficult course. I feel a bit robbed.

Just to cap it off in my head that this was really just a long run day, I ran another 2.73 with the dogs to round it out to 15 miles. They are now passed out on the couch – mission accomplished.

So. I’m sorry I don’t have a happy race post. Or a very positive post, in general.  I suppose I can try to avenge my missed PR at Santa-to-Sea in a month.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Iron Girl Del Mar 5K–Light on Pictures

Rather than steal the shit out of other blogger’s photos, this will be light on pics. I do have to keep up my reputation of being a mediocre (read: lazy) blogger, you know.

Because I was too cheap to pay the $45 or whatever for the 10K, I decided I would do the 5K which after the discount code was like $24. I could not pass up a cheap 5K 30 minutes from my house. Not to mention the motherload of awesome shwag this race gives out. This race is worth every penny. Thanks to the time change, I was easily able to haul my butt out of bed at 5am and I didn’t feel like death warmed over.

I donned my Target running skirt, new pink Zensah Schwaggle socks, blue hat, and Mizuno Precisions. I also put on makeup (seriously, apocalypse s coming) because my face is staging a revolt this week. Apparently my acne is the 99%. Occupying every spare centimeter of my chin.

I parked at the track around 6:30am (I like to be early for races, pretty much the only thing I do punctually) and walked over the packet pickup. Found Sarah right away and then we parted ways before the start. I managed to find Nicole and Heather by the start/finish portajohns. Nicole left us to float her way through the 10K.

As Heather, her friend Snork, and I were chatting before the start of the 10K, this self-righteous heifer decided to scold us for talking during the Star Spangled Banner (meanwhile, her hat was on, so, apparently only her definition of respect/patriotism is the “right one”). Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was playing – we were pretty far from the start line so it wasn’t all that loud. I had no other response than “Sorry” because that’s what she wanted to hear, and, also, I was completed stunned and could think of nothing else. However, after she walked away I got really pissed and thought of everything I should have said (though, really, better I didn’t because that would just take it down to her level). It still fires me up thinking about it. Scolding is not a good way to get your point across to adults. It only pisses people off. But apparently that’s how a lot of people are with this stuff. All emotion and no reason. Does NOTHING good to approach it this way.

Anyway, after I ranted/verbally vomited to Heather we walked over to the start line, and I tried to get close to the start. I had a crapshoot chance of an age group placement, so, figured might as well get on up there.

Per usual, I had walkers in front of me (walkers do not belong 5 feet behind the start line. No.), I managed to maneuver around them and settle into a pace where I didn’t feel like I was dying. Around the .3-4 mark, the 5K doubled back over the original course. And guess what? Not everyone had left the chute area yet, so it was like a game of chicken getting through. I hope they fix this next year because that is a bad course design.

I started picking the kids off in the first mile (they always start too fast). Second mile, was mostly uphill, but I still managed to catch an adult and another kid. Then one woman passed me (the only one), on a mission. I swear she must have started late the pace she was going. I hit the downhill and tried to pick up speed. I started gaining on yet another kid who appeared to be fading. I turned the corner to the finish chute, ran up beside her and said “Come on! Kick it in!” and she proceeded to do exactly that and beat me by a second. I’m fairly certain had I not said anything that probably wouldn’t have happened. But, hey, I felt she needed a kick in the ass (in a nice way, obv). And what’s 15th vs 16th anyway. Still not first, second, or third. And clearly not in my age group (I’m not THAT stupid).

I ended up finishing 16th out of 936. And because 30-34 age group sucks, 5th out of 156. Chip time 23:27 – 5 second PR since July.

And this is where I do what everyone says is annoying about running bloggers, but I DON’T CARE. The course was .11 long. That, my friends, translates to 40-45 seconds.

Previous 5K (RSP 5K in July) stats:

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This course was short (3.06) and only had an elevation gain of 19 ft with a net loss(!). Avg pace of 7:42/mi.

Iron Girl Del Mar 5K stats:

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.11 long (3.21) with an elevation gain of 77 ft (4 times that of RSP). Avg pace of 7:19/mi.

So, I’m sorry to annoy those folks that hate running bloggers nitpicking the length of course, but we are talking about a 23 second per mile improvement. If you just look at the 5 second PR, it appears to be the smallest of improvements. But 23 seconds per mile is significant. Especially on a harder course.

So, that’s my take away with this race.  I ran significantly faster than July. I passed a butt-ton of people, was only passed once, and managed a strong finish (looking at the Garmin pace/time graph I would venture to say that the last .5-.75 mile was sub 7:00). Would have easily been a sub 23 if it weren’t for that pesky extra bit. Next time!

Edit:

I totally forgot to mention our post race run! I was so focused on the recapping the race part that I had a brain fart. After finishing we found Ashley and ran another 6 miles up to Solana with her BF snapping blogger pics for her (which everyone subsequently stole. Maybe we should be paying him. Ha!), then headed over to the Naked Café and met up with Linzay, another Ragnar buddy blogger (directing positive healing thoughts to her torn hammy). Another great blogger/runner weekend!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Best “Non-Race” Race Ever–Operation Jack/Richard Leary 6-Hour Challenge

I’m not gonna lie. When my alarm went off at 5am and could not understand why it was going off, I was in no way excited to drive up to Irvine (when I finally remembered why I had set my alarm the night before). But I dragged my ass out of bed anyway, made my morning soy latte, and started packing up all the fixins’ for a post-race picnic.

I pulled into the parking lot and found Sarah sitting in her car, trying to keep from freezing her tuckus off. In my scrambling around that morning, I had remembered picnic stuff but forgotten a running long sleeve and the all-important body glide (luckily I was able to avoid chaffage otherwise it could have been ugly).

Heather meandered up shortly after. There was a huge flock of duck-like birds hanging out by the lake we were to be running around.

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Heather did not like these birds. In fact, she thinks all birds are creepy. Other things creepy to Heather? Feet. Hands. Pretty much anything. Apparently the Mission Inn Half Marathon is also creepy. Target is not, though. Hills are creepy too.

As you’ve probably read in other recaps, we ran a 1.09 mile loop around the lake. It was pretty damn flat, which was fine be me after last weekend’s hill smackdown in Temecula. We took off and I had Sarah as my running company which made the miles seriously fly by. It was fun leap-frogging with other runners and chatting it up with the race director/volunteers at the aid station every few laps. During our laps Kat showed up – we spied her blond pony tail and NY Giants hat and shirt. She is so NY – it’s awesome. Reminds me of my 4 year college stint in the Big Apple. We just can’t watch NY or Boston sports together. Ever.

I seriously felt like a million bucks after about the 14-15 mile mark. I was shooting for 15-16 and then when Sarah said she was doing 18, I figured I complete 15 laps running since I would have someone to run with. I ended up completely 16.41 @ 9:00.2 pace. We had about 4 minutes, un-timed, at aid station stops – Garmin has that feature that gives you actual elapsed time. It doesn’t let you lie to yourself about breaks (why you gotta be so honest, Garmin?).

I seriously had to force myself not to run 20 miles yesterday because I totally felt like I could. But it would have been colossally stupid considering my longest run in recent weeks is 14. I’m not interested in injuring myself at this point. Or ever, obviously.

Sarah continued to do two more laps, and I walked one with a little jog in there because 1.09 just walking got really boring.

Heather and I parked our behinds on a picnic blanket and waited for Sarah to decide she was done running. Sam (the Operation Jack man who is a speedy runner and super nice) tried to pressure her into more running laps as she was waffling on whether or not she was checking out. Clearly all us runners are the same. We love to be annoying and taunt other people into running more. I’m happy to see we all do it rather shamelessly.

Once everyone was done we sat on the grass to cheer for the remaining runners and see who would end up running the most laps (turns out 31 for the men, and 30 for the women was the final tally). Hopefully we weren’t just an annoying group of chicks hanging out by the aid station. We tried to cheer for the diehards when we remembered however we were mostly really good at talking about other runners while they were unknowingly 6 feet from us. Awkward. At least we weren’t saying anything bad!

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(Stolen from Sarah OUAL! I look like a miniature GI Jane with that bandana. Whatever.)

Sarah is tall, but really, the rest of us are short. All 5’2” and under (I’m in the “under” category), so it really isn’t hard to look super tall in comparison.

All in all, it was a great time. I wish there were more opportunities like this one. There was no race stress, the course was flat/easy/scenic, and easy access to the aid station every mile. I guess that’s why people join running clubs? This was kind of more awesome than a running club though. And at the end we got a t-shirt and a pretty nice medal. Not one of those cheesy generic medals. Think I will be running Operation Jack’s December half marathon (not sure I will be ready for the full at that point) based on the awesomeness of this un-race.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Temecula Half Marathon: An Ass Kicking

And not that I kicked its ass but more like it wiped the floor with mine.

I had noted in my last post that I figured my stomach was all up in arms over anxiety with the Husband’s potential full-time job (which he got, by the way – woo hoo!). Except this supposed anxiety-induced stomach ache lingered all day and into Saturday. With mid-upper stomach cramping every 30-90 minutes or so (not bad enough to have my doubling over but pretty damn uncomfortable).

Just in case you think I exaggerate about feeling like dog-turd:

  1. Friday night I had zero wine or beer. ZERO. If you know me, this is pretty rare. But I wasn’t feeling it.
  2. I started passing out on the ouch at 8:45pm with my old lady hot water bottle on my stomach. Almost never happens.
  3. Saturday, we went shopping/browsing at Nordstrom Rack & Marshalls and I was completely not into it. For once we had a good excuse to actually buy stuff for ourselves and I didn’t buy a single thing.
  4. Saturday evening, I had half a glass of wine and was done. Again, for someone who regularly splits a bottle with my husband, this is weird. And I passed out at 9:30 again even though I didn’t even teach yoga that morning (should not have been that tired).
  5. This morning, let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty in the bathroom.

I was really wondering if maybe I was nuts running this race given my state. The stomach cramping had finally stopped but apparently it had resulted in something requiring me to actually take an anti-poop-yourself medicine. And honestly, if it wasn’t 35 minutes from my house and I hadn’t already paid for it I would not have run. No freaking way.

Anyway.

So we got up there, I picked up my bib and chip, and hear the announcer say that the course had to be rerouted as part of it was closed. Errr, is that why there are cones up the ridiculously steep road to get to the winery? (Mt Palomar Winery was the start/finish)

I find Ashley and her BF (they are so cute – he is her race support except runs the entire time along side her; not sure if gets any better than that as far as race support!), and we chat for a bit until lining up for the start.

The start was weird – because of the whole running-on-55mph-road (Rancho California) they released us in waves of 10-20. Up a hill. Yeah. And then down a hill so steep that you can’t really get a good speed going.

I started out conservatively because I was seriously concerned with the whole being kind of sick thing. I felt pretty decent most of the way and I wasn’t pushing it – I could easily have full on conversations – my breathing was easy. Around mile 8 I realized I really had to pee. Like, where I had to slow down for a second and make sure I got the situation under control. Unfortunately, I was in this near-peeing myself the rest of the race – at some points it was manageable, at others, not so much.

And The Hills. Good Lord. The original course had an elevation gain of like 450 feet or something on MapMyRun. This new route? 889 feet. And half of the course was dirt road. The last group of hills from mile 12 to 13 did me in. I think some dehydration from this stomach thing finally caught up with me. And the reality is I totally could have pushed harder. For sure. I wasn’t breathing hard and my legs didn’t feel awful. But honestly, I was worried that I would put myself in a worse position and prolong this stupid bug if I went all out just to get under 2 hours.

The last mile was a mother f*cker. Seriously. Downright cruel to put that kind of hill at the end. We were in the last 400 yards of the race – when you’re supposed to be pushing it – with this hill. So steep that everyone around me was walking up it. Including myself. And I honestly didn’t care at that point. Killing myself up that hill wasn’t going to win any points in my mind.

My splits:

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Slower pace than my 14-mile training run two weeks ago.

But I told my husband this morning that my goal was to just finish the race without crapping myself. Aiming high over here. I was fully aware I’d likely finish in more than 2 hours. Sure,I don’t feel great about it, but I did what I set out to do. Obviously, I didn’t negative split but I’m going to give myself a pass on this one given the circumstances.

Hopefully Mission Inn in 3 weeks will turn out better!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Subconscious Agita

I haven’t posted much on the latest job situation with our household mostly because this underemployment of my husband has become the new norm. I had thought I had some to terms with it. We went from frugal-comfortable spending to extremely frugal spending (i.e. buy yourself nothing extra, no new shoes, clothes, etc) to a stasis of frugal without complete deprivation of small luxuries (like a $8 bottle of wine – we actually buy some decent wine once in a while – but we still hardly ever eat out. Maybe once every other month).

The part time gig he has provides enough extra income so that we don’t have to be in that feeling of restriction. But it still doesn’t feel great. We don’t get to save as much as I would like (I’m a saver, thanks to my mother’s OCD-ness about money). We went from saving nearly 2K a month (on top of 401k) to not really saving , aside from my company’s stock purchase program which does in fact turn into savings. So I can’t really complain. Our savings is increasing, so I am in no way ungrateful.  We are doing ok, better than many others.

This morning, he has a meeting with his old company about a potential position. Yeah, the place that laid him off. And, starting around 7am, I started getting quite the stomach ache. I figured it was the coffee. But hello?! I have coffee every morning. Driving into work I realized that my subconscious is stressed about this. Clearly, I have been bottling it up for 2+ years. The idea that he could have a full time job again literally is leaving me with a knot in my throat – this bubbling up of relief. And I’m trying to push it down because if it doesn’t happen, I gotta get back to that “Oh, this is ok. It’s fine.” But it certainly feels like each time the carrot is dangled, the more it takes out of me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Errr…

All I needed was a little nudge.

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The next day I was on the phone with the Carlsbad Marathon race organizers handing over my credit card information to upgrade to the full marathon.

Yeah, I am that easy to convince.

Seriously, over the past few weeks of trying to find an acceptable marathon race in the January-March timeframe,  I had been thinking that perhaps I had made the wrong decision to register for the Carlsbad half. I kind of put it out of my head because I wasn’t sure I could even upgrade. Turns out you can if it is not sold out.

Then hauterunningmama decided to tweet me that she was thinking of registering for it and that was it. Yes, I would jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it (Ok, maybe not, a marathon is not going to kill me. Well. Hopefully not). I rejiggered around my training plan to see if I could do it without sacrificing the number of long runs. Turns out I can squeeze in an 18 miler, two 20’s, and a 22 and still have a proper 3 week taper.

I think, in the end, the idea of doing a local marathon really sold me. The course support for Carlsbad is surprisingly awesome. For a medium-sized race, a lot of locals come out and cheer. Sure, I’ll probably be lonesome for long stretches when we’re running inland, but running along the coast will be great. And, it’ll be easy for friends and family to find me on the course. It’ll be interesting to be in marathon training again – haven’t run one since 2003!

This weekend? Temecula Half Marathon. It’s a tiny (250), sold out race. And I’m a little concerned about the difficulty of the course. And how dirty my kicks will get (I know, First World Problems). I think I am really just going to  go out slow (8:45-ish). I did that with Highland YMCA Half which was a bear. If this turns out easier I’ll have a lot left at the end. Time to try to actually run a longer race with a negative split! No more bonking!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sardines! They’d Better Not Suck.

Lately, I randomly have been buying different types of canned fish. Weird, I know, but I think Sunset Magazine implanted some seed in my head with their July issue. It was all, “small fish are wonderful! Don’t throw them back!”, blah blah blah. Mackerel, sardines, anchovies, smelt, etc.

So when I saw a can of sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce sitting on the shelf in Fresh & Easy I thought, “I MUST HAVE THESE.” Didn’t really think how they would actually fit into my meal planning.

The Husband generally wants nothing to do with canned fish (unless it’s tuna) so with him having dinner with his bro, it’s sardines for me this evening! What am I, 80?

It’s also an evening of the dogs anxiously awaiting his return. I swear, as I write this they are hanging out in the foyer area like he will magically appear. Clearly I am not important. Though I might need them as a diversion  since I just finished off his bag of Goldfish (mmm, salty snacks).

Anyway.

So, last weekend I had a horrendous run. I had my new Garmin 110 (since my old 205 bought the farm); I was ex-ci-ted to use it and proceeded to go out waaaay too fast for a long run. The last two miles were peppered with walk breaks.

Which reminded me of two weeks ago when I got the chance to go to a 50 minute workshop/talk given by a San Diego runner/writer/coach. One of the things he said was you can’t bank time – this whole notion of “banking time” is bunk.

Really?

Because I kind of use that strategy a lot. Though if I’m being objective, it has worked maybe 20% of the time.

This run was a clear example that you can’t bank time. The previous weekend’s 12 miles was 9:15 pace, followed a week later by 13 miles at 9:34 (20 seconds slower – I timed my walks).

So, yesterday, I had 14 on my plate. The weather was similar to last Sunday, as was the weekday mileage, though I started this run from a different point (because running through Leucadia on the 101 can be a major pain in the ass with curbside tables monopolizing pedestrian walkways; anything over 13, I start further north).

I think the fact that I had deviated my route made me not feel the need to charge through the beginning. I started off with 9:25 and 9:30 for the first two miles. Only nose breathing and very easy.

First 7 miles, 65:17. Last 7 miles, 65:08.

Hello negative split, where have you been? I was like a freaking metronome on 9:19. Three mile splits were 9:19. I felt like a weird running robot continually seeing 9:19 (or 9:18, 9:17) on my splits.

Now, this is great and all, but in a race – how in the heck can I get myself to run a bit slower, but not all out slow long run pace?  I have a really hard time running like 8:30. It’s like, I immediately end up in the low 8’s, high 7’s in a half marathon. Maybe I need to do some runs just a bit slower than half marathon pace to get the feel?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not All About Running

Lest you think  I have dropped all things house-related for all things running-related, I assure you this is only 50% the case.

Yes, the shower project is still not complete – but when you  have two other full baths in your house, it becomes less of a necessity to have the third one 100% functional. Not like when you remodel your kitchen and you go cat$hit crazy because you’re tired of microwaving and eating off paper plates. Unless your Portuguese-American and have two kitchens.*

* I grew up in a heavily Portuguese town – they immigrate there for the fishing industry – and the majority of their houses had two kitchens. And also two living areas, one of which was never used with sofas covered in plastic.

The latest thing going down on the house front is that we got a ton of stucco fixed up (not by us, stucco is something  have zero expertise in – had I been home during the repairs I might have watched them do it for future reference but the whole job thing). It looks great. And now that we got that done we’re painting the whole house.

Mulling over colors:

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The Husband is leaning towards the “Ripe Wheat” (on the left).  I am fine with both, really, but there is a house down the street that kind of already has a similar color to the one on the left. It’s going to come down to trim color and how it matches up.

It’s not going to be cheap, but, if we’re stuck here in this house (because it’s underwater) might as well slap some lipstick on it and pretty it up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Ragnar & Race Schedule

Yesterday, we had a little beer and pizza date with whoever was brave enough to show up and meet other internet weirdos.

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Surprisingly there were 7 of us and no one died. Though I whole-heartedly tried to kill them by talking their ears off.

OUAL, Hauterunningmama, SkinnyRunner, 365 Day of Awesome, Faster Bunny, & PrettyFittie.

Five of the 6 ultra ladies – which was cool – I think it’s going to kick some major ass. Provided we don’t all kill each other after 27-ish hours. That and if we don’t get abandoned on the side of the ride by the driver because he’s had enough of no-sleep+confined-smelly-space+blogging-chicks=dude-in-hell.

I have no pictures of said meetup because I am the anti-blogger. If you ever need advice on how to lose readership, I am your person. I also take notoriously bad pictures (seriously, no one can make a more stupid unintentional facial expression in a picture than myself. I wish I were kidding).

Anyway, so Next Races! (registered)

October 23rd – Temecula Half

November 6th – Del Mar Iron Girl (5K)

November 13th – Mission Inn Half

November 24th – Oceanside Turkey Trot (5m)

January 20-something, 2012 – Carlsbad Half

February 26th, 2012 – Tough Mudder SoCal

April 2012 – Ragnar

Contemplating…

October 30th – Operation Jack

December 4th – Loma Linda Holiday Classic 15K

February 19th – Lost Dutchman Marathon

March 2012 – Oriflamme 50K

Time to go get 13 miles done before heading up to LA to hang out with my favorite old coworkers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Road Trip, Part “I’m Over It”: Hood River, OR to Home

Like Sarah OUAL, I’m tired of writing about this long-ass trip. Fun, as it was. So. This will be long on pictures and short on words. I’ll have to exercise my ability to be descriptive with brevity.

Hood River, OR

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We drank beer and had dinner at Full Sail Brewery overlooking the Columbia River. A+ for creative writing on that sentence right there. A 8 year old could write that (though it would be disturbing if they actually did write those exact words. Ok. Brevity.)

The next day I ran about 4 miles including climbing the famous set of stairs that connect downtown Hood River with the Heights (5 sets, tiring). And we did laundry at a laundromat which made me pine for an industrial strength washer/dryer to do a load in less than 60 minutes.

Multnomah Falls, OR

On the drive to Portland, we stopped at this free landmark and, as expected, it was awesome.

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I can’t help squeezing my ass into a small space. When I was a little kid (4 yrs old) I would hang out in cardboard boxes like they were forts.

Portland, OR

Sadly, we have no good pictures here. Probably because we were too busy drinking beer at Rogue Ale, Deschutes, and Burnside Brewing.

I was stupid enough to pay for a train pass when it was free for the downtown area. Nine bucks flushed down the toilet.

Crater Lake, OR

7000 feet in elevation and nearly zero cell phone service. Definitely remote.

Crater Lake

We camped here for three days wherein two of them I was stressing about bears storming my tent.

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(note the bear lock box on the right to store all your food)

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The trail up to the top of Mt Scott, highest peak in the park (8900+ feet):

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There was quite a bit of snow still left on the mountain. Pretty awesome.

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The view from the top of Mt Scott:

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Working on my Captain pose. Blame it on the elevation making me delirious.

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Phantom Ship (oldest rock in the park that is visible/exposed):

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The lodge, built in like 1914 or something. We relaxed here for an hour or so during our last hike in the park, with a beer on their deck overlooking the lake.

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On the way out of Oregon we stopped at Fred Meyer to load up on food, and holy crap, what is that place?! It’s like Walmart on crack. It’s like Walmart if they fixed all the things you hate about Walmart. That place is dangerous. I would be broke if we had Fred Meyer around here.

Redwood National & State Parks, CA:

Two days of camping here and the weather was just perfect. 65 degrees, not super dry, never got super cold. Seriously, I could retire here. Bummer was that again, it’s bear country so more bear-attacking-me-in-my-sleep stress.

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I loved hiking here. The trees are indescribable.

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The trees are so awesome that you feel that if someone was going to cut them down you would go ape-shit on that person. I have those trees’ backs, is what I’m sayin’.

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BANANA SLUG! He was in our campsite with his gross, but useful-to-the-environment self.

Banana Slug

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Contrary to what you may believe, I am not taking a shit.  I am pretending o hold up that massive tree. I need some acting lessons.

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Some Elk posterior for your viewing pleasure.

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There were like four of them hanging out by the side of the road, grazing.

Final tally of miles hiked that week: 30.

Redwood to Home

We drove back over three days, stopping in Eureka to visit Lost Coast Brewing on the way to Westport KOA where we were supposed to camp on the beach. It turns out that camping in the sand and wind is not awesome so we moved to a regular site. From Westport to Los Banos we stopped in Santa Rosa to hit up Russian River Brewing. I got an awesome and ridiculously expensive Pliny the Elder t-shirt. I swear, just because it’s for chicks they jack up the price.

We stayed on night in Los Banos and stuffed our faces at Wool Growers Restaurant. Seriously. I had not been that full since my cousin’s wedding in Italy when I was 16.

The rest of Labor day weekend was spent unwinding, and then it was back to work.

Final words? I definitely plan to go back to the Redwoods.

Maybe on a Napa/Russian River Valley wine tour Winking smile.