Saturday, December 25, 2010

Brrrr! Merry Christmas!

Christmas came today and with it a beautiful clear and of course cold day. It also brought wonderful friends and a realization that even with wonderful, thoughtful presents the most important thing is the love of the people around us. Yvonne beat Santa to our house by about 8 hours and settled in with Grandma Gimli to stay with us for a few days. After opening our gifts from Santa and each other, we went for a walk to catch the few minutes of sun above the horizon.
The three Musketeers, (me, Dave and Yvonne), back together again. I can't wait to go on a run together tomorrow. I might take Vonnie out for 5 hours (she says 4) while Dave gives his first run a try after "the fall".
My two Daves, in their new hats.
Cheating just a bit, as Dave and took this picture a couple weeks ago while on our first long training run, 5.5 hours. But it puts me in the holiday spirit and makes me thankful for everything in my life this year- love, health and a group of family and friends that anyone would be lucky to have.
And in case I don't get to an end of year post, I'll repeat Josh's sentiment that explains the general happenings of 2010:
"We are all half crazy
and all at least half alright."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Musings of a Sled Nerd

So Jiggs and I are getting to know each other. Jiggs being the Little Orange Sled That Could. Besides trying to jump the gun a bit on the downhills, he's the perfect little plastic partner to set me on my course to insanity, I mean serenity. The dogs are loving the role reversal game. Agate likes to run along side with Jiggs, scoping out the situation. She is very clear, though, on her feelings about pulling a sled: "Don't look at me, Dude. I've done my time on the chain gang. What part of retired don't you understand? And you call that a sled? That's a plastic little scoop with a 15# weight in it. Geez. Amateurs."
Sigh. No respect from the doglot.
Dave's been indulging me and taking me and Jiggs out. At night. In the wee frosty night. I think we've got the cold weather running thing down. Icebugs, check. Neck gaiter, check. Foot gaiters, check. Boyfriend that tolerates your mental lapses, check:
Jiggs has a new bumper sticker: "Will run for chocolate". We all have our vices....
"A man needs something he can hold on to
A nine pound hammer or a woman like you.
Either one of them things will do."
Thanks, Ray.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I swore I'd never do this.....

....running with a sled, that is. I distinctly remember running the Little Su 50K last year with Yvonne, looking at those fools, thinking, "those fools." Yup, now I'm one of those fools. Someone, you know who you are, convinced me that the Susitna 100-miler would be fun. So, here I am, signed up for Susitna, never having pulled a sled. Not to worry, Dave to the rescue. this weekend, we put our training sleds together and headed out on the trail, 6 inches of new snow on the ground. It wasn't long before Dave realized what he'd gotten into. "Where are we? And why are we in this handbasket?":
As Yvonne can attest to, running long distances in the snow with me as a running partner is not always easy, with my black cloud ready to arrive at any moment. But Dave swears he'll stuff me full of Reece's peanut butter cups and that's all it will take. Well, maybe a little more than that...
Running the Highland trail:
Notice there are no dogs around. They're way up ahead, laughing at their good fortune of free-running all winter while we pull the sleds. The two partners in crime. Still smiling- first run went off without a hitch. Well no major hitches, just some minors ones involving off-trail wanderings, thin ice and some healthy sled-kicking. Just working out the kinks.
Of course, my new friend, the little orange guy in the picture, needs a name. So if you see us out there, it's Me and Jiggs:
"Me and my friends in the park drinking beer underneath the tree
Lying on your back as the sun goes down, you know it's perfect 'cause you've got to leave.
On a Saturday night in a town like this I forget all my songs about trains
A bar with a jukebox you on my arm heaven and earth are pretty much the same.
And I'm not sure I can make you stay
Sun's going down it's the end of the day..."
Next up, finally a couple trip posts...
Later days....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We are all half crazy....

...and all at least half alright. That's right, Josh. That just about sums it up. Today, I visited the Whistler collection at Glasgow University and an Exhibit called "The Glasgow Boys", of several local painters in the late 1800s. Both were excellent. I just got back from Josh Ritter. Just awesome. First time I've seen him with a band, and they were great. They all looks pretty nerdy and have got to lose the mustaches, but otherwise, perfect:
"If I could trace the line that ran
between your smile and your slight of hand,
I'd guess that you put something up my sleeve.
Now every time I see your face,
Bells ring in a far off place.
We can find each other, this way I believe."
I'm off to start the West Highland Way tomorrow.
Bye Bye, city.
P.S. - I'm now addicted to the Stieg Larsson series. Thank god #3 is in paperback over here already. Now I'm convinced everyone over here is ensconced in some kind of illegal activity. Don't worry. I'm resourceful. Salander is a good teacher.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Embarcadero Skies

Well, I made it, mom. No worries, as they say over here (for just about everything, actually- thanks, your welcome, here's your espresso). I'm staying in a hotel close to the West side, by Glasgow Univ. There's a great park, Kelvensgrove, about a 5 minute walk away. You can see the university campus in the background: You can also see that it's sunny. I think somebody told me it rains over here... I found all of this shortly after arriving because I couldn't check in right away. So off I went exploring, which Glasgow is great for- walking around- they make it really easy with a lot of pedestrian-only streets and a compact downtown area. After checking in, I took a nap and then.... Headed to Wilco at Barrowland across town. Once again, an awesome show. Jeff was...not unhappy. Very strange to see his angst morph into...less angst. He even talked to the crowd. He was happy to be among what he called "his people"- he said "I've been waiting to come back, I missed you guys in Glasgow. You're my people. You're all grumpy, right?" Ah, that sums it up nicely. Though I love Jeff and relate so much to his grumpiness, the real star of the night was Nels Cline: What a rock star. He is incredible with a guitar. They played all my favorite songs- Via Chicago, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Red eyed, "When you're back in your old neighborhood...." and the following: "I have no idea how this happened All of my mouths have been overthrown. Happenstance has changed my plans so many times, my heart has been outgrown." It got quiet at one point and some guy in the crowd yells "We love Wilco!" and Jeff looks at him and says "well, I'd presume that why you're here...". heh, heh. After the show I somehow got into a conversation with a group of guys about the Kings of Convenience and they found out I was from Alaska. One of them was aghast (as only a scot can be) that I wasn't on Facebook. "you're from Alaska! If there's anywhere you need social networking, I'd think that'd be the place!" There were a lot of other words thrown in there but I didn't really understand them. Thanks, Wilco. So today I went off exploring for Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. I stopped to have some fish and chips and a pint. No, that's not Guacamole. It's "mushy peas". Taste and texture just like you'd imagine. So the signage is funny over here. Somehow, this translates to "No littering". Now, I didn't think really hard about it but if somebody could help me out with this one... And lastly, the Necropolis. So behind the Cathedral, there's this big hill that was used as a cemetery for the Merchant class in the 1800s. It's awesome. There are mausoleums and huge headstones and it towers over the city. It's amazing to see the headstones at the top of the hill with high rises and smokestacks in the background. Tomorrow- art day and Josh Ritter. Gotta go, it's costing me 2 pounds per 1/2 hour. Cheers!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I wanna be your Kingpin...

Beautiful day to be alive, at the top of Mat Peak. Are your ears still ringing, Dave? You've been the hot topic of conversation lately. Take care of that T.
McCarthy comin' soon....

Thursday, September 9, 2010


A hard days' work, a run with the dogs through the woods and a Guinness. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Wish you were here. Cheers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Name a Mountain Pass

Here is the Finding the Boats We Sunk recipe for "How to name a Mountain Pass": First, you take a gorgeous day up in Hatcher Pass. Then you add a fearless friend named Dave (his name doesn't have to be Dave. You can use someone else, as long as he is fearless and says, 'oh, yeah, 4 hours, 5 max, no problem.") Make sure this friend does not listen to the rambling advice of the prospector (thrown into the mix below). Throw in a retired prospector named Buck Rogers (again, he doesn't have to be a Buck, but he does have to have not seen anyone in a few days and have a penchant for chattiness. Warning! Though the chattiness may sound unimportant, listen closely to his advice on the location of "big black rocks", "hog backs", "spray paint" and when he says, "oh yeah, that pass is really far", believe him.) Buck, with his Groundhog: Add a liberal helping of a mountain goat named Willow, the best rock climbing dog around. And finally, me, who has always wanted to take Craigie Creek Trail up over Dogsled Pass and around to Archangel Road.
We should have known we were in trouble when the MOST detailed guidebook said "once you reach Dogsled Pass, look up and to the right. There you will find the pass that will take you to Fairangel lake and mine". Hmmm. Up and to the right are three seemingly good choices. On the way, we found gold, radioactive green moss, a small canister with change mounted to a confusing directional sign (why, so you can call a cab?) and helped start the formation of a black cloud (I'm quite sure it was our lack of serious faces that angered the Pass gods) that then traveled to Wasilla to rain on Bumpus ballfields, cancelling my softball game. We did make it up and over a pass. I think we were the first people there, because this was the kind of climb that keeps my mother up at night, rightfully so. At least I hope we were the first, because we named it Willow Pass, for the amazing nimble feet of Willers, my bud and sidekick.
And now, as I sit and write about the ease at which anyone can name a mountain pass, I see the almost full moon in the darkening sky and realize fall is upon us, with the changing colors in the mountains- yellows, deep reds, and the crisp air that bites in the morning as Chum greets my buckets. It looks to be a beautiful fall. Bittersweet for me as always, in Alaska.
From "Roses, Late Summer", M. Oliver:
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness
and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it on some
unstinting happiness.
I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn't mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.
Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet though of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

Monday, August 16, 2010

16 Years Young

Good lord, I have to do everything myself. Obviously, She Who Controls the Computer forgot to mention that after 15 years (or is it 16?), I decided to start jumping on the couch. Hehhehheh, Princess Willow was pissed. I was born to be a housedog. Woof. Love, Koochie

Building the Ark

29 straight days of precipitation and counting. It's code orange (isn't it always?) at Southpaw Kennel and we have shifted to survival mode. I've put aside all of the projects I've been working on so diligently all summer and started building an ark. Leo's all for it but LuLu is demanding her own private statesman cabin with at least 3 portholes, so it might take some extra time. Seriously. There is a collective weary resignation amongst the crew, another Not-Quite-Summer is finished. And it continues to rain...."I don't think that it's the end, but I know we can't keep going...." So 11 more days and the prerequisite biblical 40 days and 40 nights will be achieved. Well, one good thing about the rain- berries. Everywhere and all kinds. DSquared and I went over to Jeff's, a running friend. He is the owner of The Garden of Which We Are All Envious. He and his wife couldn't pick all the raspberries, strawberries or currants they were growing so asked for some help. Um. Of course. I am the champion Hambach Farm blackberry picker, right Mom? An 8 mile (or was it 10?) run, an hour and two gallons later.... And here we have Jeff, the master gardener of all things.....
And of course, no rest for those who overextend themselves on the weekend- we're off to Anchorage the next morning (after a 6AM are-you-up? call) for Humpy's Marathon and Half marathon. Dave decided to tackle the marathon, two weeks after Res Pass, DeeDee was running the half and Jeff, Yvonne and I were bandits. Yvonne ran the whole thing while I wimped out and only ran the last 2-3 miles with them. Dee ran a great race, finishing her 2nd half of the summer in under 2:20, despite a painful foot. High five, Willow Running Club. Dave on the other hand, turned in a lackluster performance, finishing 4th in the marathon overall, first in his age group and running a personal record of 2:52 (just kidding, we don't want your head to get too big). Pretty soon he's gonna be too cool and we won't be able to hang out with him anymore. Either that or we just won't be able to catch him. Oh wait, that's already happened. I told him before the race that his Res Pass finish was all well and good but it was going to be this one that really showed his conditioning and mental toughness. Well ladies and gentlemen, there's your answer. He is now famous enough to catch the eye of Beth Bragg from the Anchorage Daily News:
Dave, An executive decision has been made by the pit crew about your attire. From henceforth on, anytime you run a PR, you retire the clothes you wore for that race. Including this one :-)
Oh, and he found out on Sunday that he is race director for the McCarthy Half-marathon. Yvonne, you're still hearing about it. Not gonna let it die, that jinx you put on his head.
So, the real reason we went into town for the race was for Moose's Tooth beer and pizza. The raspberry wheat, the popeye and the brewhouse special. That and Yvonne gets restless if she doesn't go on a roadtrip every 2-3 weeks.
Yv and I post-stomach stuffing, with Willow. I think I keep getting taller and she keeping getting shorter:
I came home on Sunday to my own ripe raspberries:
- After sweeping the Reds for first place, the cards fell 2 out of 3 to the CUBS! Buck up boys and start putting the hammer down.
- It is possible for someone as small as Yvonne to put away a large pizza in one sitting. - Eating breakfast before you run a marathon guarantees a PR.
- Ray LaMontagne has a new album coming out soon, can't wait.
- Lastly a tip- don't lend out your Xtra toughs during a rainy summer.
And to feed Yvonne's need for the road- we are heading to McCarthy for the Kennicott half-marathon. Afterall, we're tight with the race director....
Maybe reading about the sun will bring it 'round, from Tony Hoagland's Spring Lemonade:
"There's a wheel turning in the center of the earth
and over it, our feet are always running, running,
trying to keep pace.
Then there's the period of quietude and rue,
when you want to crawl up inside yourself,
when you prefer ugliness to hope.
Last night the sunset was so pink and swollen
the sky looked like it had gotten an infection.
We were sitting on the lawn and sipping lemonade.
Inflamed clouds were throbbing in the fevered light.
Shannon murmured Somebody better call a doctor.
Kath said, Somebody get some aspirin.
But nobody moved.
And the smell of lilacs and manure blew out of the fields
with such complexity and sweetness, we closed our eyes.
It had nothing to do with being good, or smart,or choosing right.
It had to do with being lucky-
something none of us had ever imagined. "
And that's what we are. Lucky enough to feel the rain on our faces. Everyday.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

So Much Time....

....on my hands. "Ticking away the moments that make up the dull day Fritter and waste the hours In an off hand way..." Ahh, the post race funk. Just when you want to go out and run forever, you can't because your body won't let you. I've spent so much time running that the to-do lists are buried under stacks of other to-do lists and I don't know where to start. So I've been blueberry picking and buying books on Scotland. Thought I'd post a few more pics from Res Pass: So, I love this picture for three reasons: 1. It's a great pic of Yvonne in her hot pants 2. Her face shows so clearly the huge relief she's feeling at the finish, getting out from under the thunderous black cloud otherwise known as "Andrea's bad attitude". 3. The Sebastian Schnuelle look-alike behind her is TOTALLY checking her out. And then we've got Dave, 100-miler winner at the finish line. Hey, no slouching, you just won. Are those swimming trunks? And finally, my personal favorite. Laura McDonough at the 12-mile aid station, right behind Dave as they head across the bridge from Hope to Cooper Landing. See that sneaky little smile? Dave, she's about to eat you alive. And she'll keep that white hat pristine clean for 100 miles while she's doing it. Incredible. Below is the Anchorage Daily News link for the race summary and results. I'm off to dream of the West Highland Way... *thanks to Pink Floyd for unknowing allowing my lyric poaching.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Summer Day

I've waited a few days to write down my thoughts about the Res Pass 50, mainly so my post did not consist solely of the following: @#$%&*)!
On to business.
Yv and I dropped Dave off at the start of the 100-miler Friday afternoon and headed home for rest. We got up early, at 4am (otherwise known as "still nighttime"). I went over my imaginary checklist and hustled into the car. I wasn't nervous, just not quite awake yet. I realized halfway there that I had forgotten my camera. Yv let me borrow hers. I didn't want to carry the extra weight but figured a few snapshots along the trail would be worth it. We arrived nice and late, at 5:45am. Yv took the pre-race photo below:
Contrary to what you might think, this is not my game face. This is my "What-the-hell-are-we-doing-here-this-early-in-too-few-clothes-trying-to-acclimate-to yet-another-rainy-cold-Alaska-summer-morning?" face. Yv is of course very good at her gentle reminder of "you know....nobody is making you do this".
So the list of 25 was whittled down to 18 at the start. It was a mass of synthetics and spandex, dirty trail shoes, camelbacks and very warm snuggled-in-their-down-jackets pit crew members. What was ahead of us? Well, a gradual 19 mile climb to Resurrection Pass, followed by a 19 mile descent into Hope. Then, we were all relieved to know (insert sarcasm font) that we had 12 more miles to go on a hard-packed gravel road with a 4 mile hill (not gradual) out and back on to the finish at the Hope School. Pat, the race director told me at the start that it rained all night long on the 100-milers and the trail was pretty wet. It was pretty dry at the trailhead with sun breaking through. A good start. I think there was a countdown then somebody yelled GO. The following picture looks kind of cool because it makes it look like we're actually going fast.
We're not.
I was pretty quickly on my own. When I decided I wanted to run this race, I tried in vain to convince Yv to do it with me. Every answer was some version of "no" with a colorful variety of other words included. Some fast people were out quick. I think I was somewhere in the middle but I didn't see anyone after about 2 minutes so I really had no idea. It's a single track trail through the woods so you don't see a soul. I could hear some voices behind me and figured I was in the right place. The trail conditions were pretty good considering the rain the night before. I was having a great time the first several miles, taking it easy, trying to remember Dave's advice of "go as slow as you can, even if it hurts". Around mile 5-6 I hoped off the trail for a bathroom stop and heard a group pass by me. I was actually having a great time by myself and hoped I didn't catch them for a while. I started to sift around in my pack for a gel when I saw that the lid and filter from my filter water bottle was gone. Damn. My camelback bladder was a 2-liter but still not enough to last 38 miles. Giardia was not on my summer to-do list. Oh well. When in doubt, keep on running. Good motto for something like this- came in handy. I hoped that someone behind me would pick it up. About the time I was trying to calculate what my Metronidazole dose would be, I caught up with the group ahead of me at Juneau lake, about 9 miles in. We were all at a quick walking pace to eat a few bites, so I hopped ahead to take their picture. (From L-R)Ann, Janet and Janelle were all from the Anchorage area. Janelle was a first-timer like me. As I took off, Janelle peeled off and started running with me. All I can say is that she was a life-saver- keeping a good pace and a great person to talk to. It's actually perfect to run a race like this with someone you've never met- All of your stories are new and take long enough to tell to get you through a LOT of miles.
There were a few shorter climbs where we power-hiked, taking advantage of the slow pace to eat. I had a wide variety of.....gels. With a couple packs of Clif Blocks, thank god. I had one Gu gel and that was enough to convince me it would be the only one. Besides the blocks, I only ate Powerbar gels, vanilla and chocolate. When good, they taste like cake icing (come on, everybody's eaten straight out of the Betty Crocker icing tub. Don't lie). When bad. Hmmm, they're just bad. I was able to get down 2 an hour until about mile 30 (I'm guessing on the 30. I had no idea where the hell I was after mile 19 at the pass). Speaking of the pass, Here I am, at the Pass sign, mile 19. This is the only place it rained on us (sorry, Dave), and only for about 30 minutes. It could have been 2 hours. Time and place starts to get a bit fuzzy after a while. I think Janelle and I got to the pass in about 4h20min.
After we hit the pass, it was a gradual downhill that was pretty easy running. I know I never would have kept our pace, had I been alone. Thanks, Janelle! As we descended, we knew about where we were at certain creek crossings. I ran out of water somewhere between 25-30 miles. We were crossing small, fast moving creeks about every mile, so there were plenty of places to get water/giardia. Janelle's initial raceday goal was about 10hours, mine around 11, but I would have been happy staying under 12. as we crossed rivers we knew the mileage of, we knew we were behind her schedule but thought we were pretty close to mine (I set 11 as a goal b/c Dave said that with adequate training 11 was a reasonable goal- he of course expected me to be much slower due to my horribly INadequate training we both knew I had). So we came to a point where we thought we had about 3 miles to go, pretty easy to do 10min miles with the terrain, so about 30 minutes from the trailhead and the mile 38 aid station. Right at that point, we ran into two of her friends who had run in to pace her to the aid station. When we asked them about how much farther it was, they said "we've been running in for about 1.5 hours". Silence. Janelle and I didn't say anything at first. This was a bad moment. This was where the race became all mental. And it was not good. I think it was worse for me because I had seen the 4-mile hill the day before and knew what we had ahead of us. And so we plodded on. At this point, we were still in the woods and everything looked the same. The only thing with any variety was the wide array of bear scat. Finally, I saw buildings along the river and knew we were getting close. I'll admit that I started to have a bit of a breakdown. Tears of joy? I don't think it was joy I was feeling. Then I realized I would soon be seeing people. Jesus, get ahold of yourself. As soon as I crossed the bridge and hit the hard-packed gravel, I could feel EVERY little accumulated pain all at once. Stopping was not an option. Yv came running at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look, yelling "you're not supposed to be here yet!. I'm not ready!" Well, what did she want me to do, turn around? So I bypassed the food (for somebody like me, who loves to eat, passing up M&Ms is a BIG deal. All it takes is a 38 mile run to suck any appetite out of me) and kept walking down the road because if I stopped, it was going to be all over. Janelle was right behind me and headed down the road with her pacers. I was glad to have a couple minutes alone until Yv caught up to me. Then, in a truck from down the road comes none other than Thomas and Dave. Dave hopped out (well...hobbled would be a more apt description) and we both gimped on down the road. He was freshly showered with a beer in hand, smiling. He came in a few hours earlier, winning the 100-miler with no dry clothes left. I told him about my breakdown right before the bridge and he told me he's heard that happens to a lot of people ;-) Right about then, Yv caught up and Thomas pulled up to give Dave a lift to the finish. I still had about 11 miles to go and wasn't looking forward to it. I ran and walked the next 3-4 miles until I got to the hill. Then, I tried to keep running but didn't have anything left. I walked the last 3 miles up the hill. I even stopped a couple times, turned around, had a couple out-of-body experiences, talked to myself about the meaning of life (the talking to yourself starts early, around mile 5-6) what exactly I was doing out there (still no answer for that one yet) and seriously considered just heading back down the hill. Yv was smart. She didn't push me either way. I think she knew I was done and getting to the top of the hill was about all I could do- walking or crawling. Volunteers Pam and Phyllis were at the top and were the two most welcome faces I'd ever seen. Again, a smorgasbord of food, which I couldn't look at lest I vomit) and drinks (sadly, no Guinness). I was amazingly coherent at this point, enough to get moving down to the finsh. Yowza- that hurt. Finally the turn to a flat road. So by now, I'm not talking. At all. The look on my face would quell any sort of conversation and I'm filthy enough to be the last person anyone would try to talk to on the side of a road. Except for the one tourist looking for the grocery store. In Hope. Yv saw the look on my face and jumped between us, pointing the way. And at long last, Hope School and the tent.
I finished in 11h22min and some change. Not bad for my first (and only?) time. My feet did not feel so good. My shoes actually were some color of brown to start with, just not this one:
So now that I've had a few days to digest that 11+ hr experience you'd think I'd have some decent answer for why. Don't really have one. To see if I could do it, I guess.
Listening to an Alexi Murdoch song today, and it said things better, as usual:
"I feel I'm on the verge of some great truth where I'm finally in my place
But I'm fumbling still for proof
and it's cluttering my space
casting shadows on my face.
And though I have the strength to move a hill
I can hardly leave my room
So I'll sit perfectly still
and I'll listen for a tune
while my mind is on the moon.
and if I stumble
and if I stall
and if I slip now
and if I should fall
and if I can't be all that I could be
will you wait for me?"
And who waited for me? My two great friends:
-Dave, 2010 Res Pass 100-mile winner. Who never told me it was going to be easy. And for that I'm so grateful. You rock. Who says successful ultramarathoners have to be vegan? You can have MY gels for 1/2 price.
-And Yvonne- the most amazing one woman pit crew/pacer/runner hostel/goat milk serving kick ass chauffeur ever born. I went slow so you wouldn't get too hot in those pants ;-)
So back to why. When you tell people what you've just done they think you're crazy, they tell you so and they ask why. I guess I'd like to answer them with part of a Mary Oliver poem entitled "The Summer Day":
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Friday, July 30, 2010

I've been looking for Hope these days....

Resurrection Pass Pre-race Report: Dave and I made it down to Yvonne's in Soldotna in one piece (barely). Yv and I watched as Dave packed for the race. Amazing. 40-50 gels. And WAAAY too much body glide. This morning, he packed the car with all of his gear. Willow barely fit after he was finished:
Then, we headed on over to Hope for the start of the 100-miler at 3PM. There was a huge field of 6 runners (apparently a good turn-out). This trail is Dave's nemesis from both his 50-miler and 100-miler previous experiences, so he's hoping to shake off the demons. Laura McDonough is going to be some stiff competition- she's smart and will wait for everybody to make a mistake...She just came off a great Crow Pass run. Dave's ready, as long as he doesn't run into any Evan-esque mishaps.
First we drove to the Res Pass North trailhead to drop off a bag for Dave at the 12/ 88 mile aid station. Please note my smiling, rested face at the bridge, below:
I'll have a comparison shot for you in a couple days when I get to this spot, my 38-mile aid station. It will have been the farthest I've ever run at that point in the race.
On to the pre-race meeting at the school, the official finish. Low-key, easy-going. Best kind of race. Then we drove up to the start of the 100. And I got to see "The Hill". Oh my. After mile 38, the 50-miler heads up a gravel road for an out and back to tack on the remaining 12 miles. There is a 4-mile hill climb that 's going to be.....a bit challenging. We'll see how that goes.
So off they went, the 100-milers, and Yv and I took off for some lunch, exploring Hope and back home to pack up my gear for a 6AM start in the morning. Dave told me I should eat 3 gels an hour. Hmmm. If it takes me 10-11 hours, that's 30-33 gels. Yuck. And who the hell has room for all that? It's bit overwhelming for a first-timer:
I'm off to bed for a few hours' sleep before 4am rolls around. Dreaming of dry trails, blue skies and a Guinness at mile 50...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Catch Up

Well, here I am, almost 2 months later and playing catch up with the summer. It's the seventh inning stretch up here, time to call in the relief. So for now, a quick list of happenings. Hopefully tomorrow, a more detailed description, as well as musings about the past calendar year's changes (oh, goodie, you're thinking, that sounds boring). Dad arrived. The fish didn't. Went to a Miner's Ballgame for Father's Day, day 2 of sun the whole summer. Fishing with DeeDee and Justin. day 3 of sun. Still no Kings. Mayor's half. Under 2Hrs, passed by Dave on The Hill. Rain. Rain. Rain. Freedom 4-miler. With rain. There's a 340 mile Kayak race down the Missouri River! Now added to the to-do list. Hatcher Pass Marathon trial run. Day 4 of sun. 4 days, 40 miles. Rain. 35 more minutes of 33 yrs old. "The sun, it tries to warn me, 'boy, those wings are made of wax'. And the things I do to kill me, they just tell me to relax." R. Adams Tapering- 10 days until Res Pass.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Running and Dad's here!

Whew. Time runs away from me. Let's see, what's been happening... Yvonne came up this past weekend, yea! We ran the Twilight 12K (no vampires or werewolves) on the 4th. Holy tough at the end of a day. With about 1K to go, Yvonne starts trying to have a conversation with me. I gasped " I can't talk right now". And what does she say in return? I guess I should be running faster then, huh? I think she was kidding. But I'm not sure. Skyline has turned her into an animal ("my courage is roaring like the sound of the sun..I'm an animal, you're an animal, too-N. Case) Anyhoo, we thought we really improved on our time from 2008. Had to e-mail Skinny Raven to look it up- 2008 was 30 secs faster than this year. Hmm. I think maybe they looked at the wrong name...the hills went great. We finished strong. Moving on to the next race- Mayor's 1/2.
Leo says high five, dudes. Nice work. Me-ow.
Next day- Red Shirt Lake Trail Run. The sun and 60's we ordered was shipped overnight and arrived just in time. 42 runners, awesome. Lots of moola for the Library.
Yvonne and I at the trail head, crackin' the whip. No bright eyes, no bushy tails. From far away it looks like we are smiling but I think we're both grimacing from lack of sleep, bright sun and caffeine deficiency.
The four front runners, post race, comparing notes.....on something. L to R- Beau (4th), Nils (1st), Dave (3rd), Tim (2nd). Nice job guys.
Dad came in on Tuesday night. We, of course, headed up to the Roadhouse in Talkeenta for a half-standard this morning. Yum. Gave Dad his Father's day gift early- a book on the history of the St. Louis Cardinals. He reads little blurbs to me now and then, it's cool. We had a very intense discussion on the rules of wins, losses and saves. Again. it's always hard for me to remember who gets what when. I think I've got it now. We're planning to go to a Miner's game over in Palmer.
Josh Ritter's new CD- very good. Change of Time, I keep playing it over and over. Willow's SICK of it (her emphasis). Just picked up Dawn Landes' CDs in the mail. Stay tuned...
"Some prophecies are self-fufilling. I've had to work for all of mine.." JR

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yvonne's New Adventure- Horses and Chickens and Goats, Oh My!

Well, it seems I've been on a hiatus of sorts. Almost a month has flown by and life goes on in Willowtown. The month of May started with saying goodbye to my wonderful friend, Yvonne. She has forged on ahead and started a new chapter down in Soldotna. We had a bonfire to commemorate her time in Willow with some friends- The cool folks wore their XtraTufs. I'm going to miss my friend, neighbor, and running partner. I've already gone to the phone I don't know how many times to call about some little thing or other before I realize she's not there. So where is she? Yvonne is officially the newest goat farmer of Soldotna. She is helping to take care of a farm- milking goats, collecting eggs and making sure the foxes don't sneak into the henhouse. Helped her move down on a beautiful day a couple weeks ago. The sun was shining on Kenai Lake on my way back home- So while Yv awaits news on a job with the FAA she is finding time to explore new trails, figuratively and literally, avoiding avalanches on the way up to Crow Pass- And so a few words for Yv from me and Josh: "This is it my dear old friend Our paths it seems are at an end for now Though in time we floated free We are pulled by separate gravities to ground... Time is like this fast freight train You gotta ride, you can't remain behind And all your friends are on separate tracks And some of them they won't look back to find The one place that we all have known The one place that we call a home The place where each of us began Sure as that day rolls around When the road back home is finally found I know our paths will cross again " See you in a couple weeks! (hopefully I'll be off the DL by then-see below) General musings and happenings: Josh Ritter is married. To Dawn Landes. No kidding. I've always tried to separate myself from the personal lives of musicians, especially when I listen to their music (sometimes it's impossible, for example 1. Noah and the Whale's latest CD was only that good because of a colossal break-up w/ Laura Marling. 2. I'll never listen to John Mayer no matter how good it is. Good god, stuff a sock in it already) But Josh moved to Alaska with me. I heard my first Ritter song on KNBA, driving down to Girdwood, April 2002 "All the other girls here are stars, you are the Northern Lights...". I saw him up here a year or two ago and Dawn Landes opened for him. Nary a word from either of them. Hmm. It changes how you listen to the music, knowing who he's singing about. And now that he's happy and no longer yearning for love, what's he going to sing about? Guess I need to get his new album and find out- So Runs the World Away. and with it my grand illusions about JR. Batter Up! I'll have Newman's Hilltop record over on the right. 1-1 on Monday, putting us at 3-1 for the season. Not a bad start for the Willowbillies. My first at bat, felt something tear as I turned to run to first base. Yowza, almost couldn't walk- there goes my right quad (hopefully it's only one of the four). New injury for me. Hurts like hell, too. So I'll take the standard stubborn runner's 2 days off and see how it feels on Thursday. Crow Pass got moved a week later. Officially scratched off my running calendar due to ResPass the very next weekend and work scheduling conflicts. So ResPass is the highlight- Yv, you better be doing some scouting for me down there. Memorial Day Weekend coming up- garden central. My favorite quote of the night from M*A*S*H: (Radar walks in with 4 full shot glasses) "Scotch anyone? We ran out of ice so I used Bourbon."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Dreams and Reality.... and Kilts

Do you remember that time in your life, young, naive and innocent, when you were struck with the realization of where you were meant to be and what you were meant to do? For me, it was the first time I watched my favorite movie, Out of Africa. The sun filters through the dusty African highlands, the trees spread out, giraffe glide along and you hear- "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills..." Yup, that was me. My dream was realized. I want to be her- brave, adventurous, traveling to Africa. Yadda yadda. Well, this did not happen. I am not the re-incarnated Karen Blixen. I did not marry a baron, I don't grow coffee and I have yet to make it to Africa. And I'm ok with all this. After all, her husband gave her syphilis, her coffee plantation failed and she chronically struggled with anorexia and had to move back to Denmark. So, when a movie is made of my life, it will start out like this.... The rustle of animals running through the trees, grey clouds with blue sky peeking out, nothing green, the toes of Xtra-toughs walking through the mud of break-up and a voice... "I had a bus in Alaska, on the back 40 acres...." Her name is Maude. I'm looking for another one, Harold, to keep her company. If you want a true Chris McCandless-esque experience, she's for rent. And you don't even have to ford a river to get there. Actually, I've been told that you aren't a true Alaska land owner unless you have a bus on your property. Lucky me. Just watch out for the killer wolf in the lower right hand corner. He looks hungry. I signed up for the Loch Ness Marathon today. It's in the beginning of October which means I'll be in Scotland around that time for a couple of weeks. I've had some people ask me Why Scotland? I've told some the truth, made up a couple of lies or said "because". So for everybody else, I'll give a few multiple choice options and leave it at that: a. because castles are cool b. I hope to find a portal to the past that will drop me sometime into the world of kilts, swords and pagan worship (witches are a must, as well as a Jamie Fraser-like character) c. hiking and running the highland trails looks fun d. Gerard and I have secretly agreed to meet and run the marathon together e. Scotland reminds me of Alaska in many ways so why not go somewhere that looks exactly the same as where I live now? f. Kilts g. Wool sweaters h. I feel I've mastered the skill of driving in America and I love it so much that I'm ready to try the other side i. I have an intense love of Celtic (hard 'C', right Paula?) music, especially if made to sound like an 80's rock band and played continuously for 3-4 months non-stop (this one's for you, Dennis, heehee) j. Kilts And in other news, zee rrrrhubarb is up. Asparagus still MIA. Oh and Yvonne and I did THREE Hatcher Pass Hills today. yowza. AND had our best time so far on the second. Take that, Palmer-side hillers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birthday, Righteous Babes and Baseball

Six years ago to the day, I looked out my kitchen window in Big Lake because Agate wouldn't stop barking at Jenna in her house. I opened the window and before I could tell Agate to stop, I heard the cry of a newborn puppy. And the Trees had sprouted- Ash, Willow, Cedar, Maple, Spruce, Oak and Aspen. Happy birthday to three of my monsters-Ash, Wills and Cedar, sleeping peacefully now after two long walks, extra cookies and hotdogs with dinner. It a special thing, to have known your dogs from the day they were born. Next up-Mr. Chum and Mr. Red on 7/31. Below, Ash Willow and Cedar, pretending to be working on our last run this spring a few weeks ago (notice how stylish Cedar is with his booties- it was all the rage this year):
On to kick-ass guitar babes Thao and Erin Mckeown. Brandy, Nancy, Darren and I met at Vagabond Blues to see Erin. We saw her on her last trip up 3 years ago. She may have a new album and a different hairstyle but she plays the guitar the same- better than most guys I've seen. Amazing to watch. What a great show. She brought her friend, Thao (solo last night but usually plays with her band, the Get Down Stay Down). I had never heard her before, but she was incredible, too. Looking forward to listening to both more.
V. Blues was perfect for the show, as always. We could have picked their noses (if we wanted to). And we had a chance to get a couple of pics. Below is Brandy with Erin after the show. Unfortunately, it doesn't due justice to a. how cute Erin actually is, b. how much Brandy is quivering with excitement and c. how well they have executed the side-hug (any arousal? I think not...).
Thanks, Erin and Thao.
And lastly, baseball, because I said I would. Ahhh.... baseball. I start to get a bit antsy up here with the lingering snow because I know I would normally be sweating it out on the field already in Missouri, otherwise known as Cardinal-land. I've had Bull Durham in the DVD player non-stop and my Cardinals partner in crime, Jon, at work (he's from Hannibal, go figure). Field of Dreams is next but my VHS is getting pretty worn out. Gord, my coach called today. First practice next week! Baseball and softball always make me think of Dad- going to his games, playing ball with him, sharing a glove because we're both Southpaws. And he always know the answers to my baseball questions. Thanks, Dad!
From Bull Durham: "This is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. Got it?" If only life had three simple rules like that.
From Crash Davis, the Yogi Berra of the Durham Bulls-
"...I believe there should be a Constitutional amendment outlawing astroturf and the designated hitter..."
"..Relax, don't try to strike everybody out. Strike outs are boring. besides that, they're fascist. Throw ground balls. It's more democratic. "
And from Field of Dreams:
"What do you want?"
"I want to be left alone, I want people to stop looking to me for answers."
"No, what do you want?"
"Oh, brat and beer, please."
heh, heh. love that part...
So, If these quotes don't make sense, get your sentimental baseball hearts out to the movie store and rent Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. They'll remind you why you love the game and help you forget all the million dollar contracts and steroid scandals. Also, Shoeless Joe by J.P. Kinsella, is the book that inspired Field of Dreams. It's great.
Play ball!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Princess is Pissed (not LuLu)

So I asked my human leader why I haven't made it on the blog yet, front and center. I realize she has a lot on her mind, but come on. I told her if she wants people to come back for more, she better start posting some pics of some real babes. And I threatened to convene the Spanish Inquisition. Viola- she handed over the password pronto. Who says negative re-enforcement doesn't work? No, No. Here's my good side: Sweet dreams, boys.