Monday, December 29, 2008

Beautiful things

This weekend I received several really wonderful gifts: a bottle of vegan wine, an adorable photo of my nieces and nephew, and a gorgeous day to run and hike with KJ and the pups (the quest for zero impact was not entirely successful, but the few gifts we gave/received were incredibly thoughtful and useful).

Saturday was the clearer, but slightly cooler day of the weekend and it was perfect for a jaunt out to Great Falls with the dogs. Initially I had planned on checking out the towpath-Billy Goat A-towpath loop, but there was too much foot traffic and Billy Goat A is not safe for the dogs. Instead we parked across from Old Angler Inn, dropped down to Berma Road and then picked up an uphill segment of the Gold Mine Trail (to the Great Falls Tavern> Billy Goat C). The weather was perfect, Sascha and Hippo were reasonably well behaved and I got the opportunity to run a little in my new Roclites. Great day, great company, fantastic little shoe.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No Impact - A Christmas Without Gifts

This gentleman was on Democracy Now this morning discussing his family's Christmas without presents. I feel vindicated (not that I really required it, maybe validated is the better word choice) for our nearly no present Christmas. We've bought gifts only for the kids and for the dogs, but are not exchanging gifts amongst the adults in my family--its better this way, the pressure to spend spend spend is gone so instead of shelling out money that we should be saving we will spend our Christmas day enjoying each other's company. Win-win.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What next? Good question...

On the running front I'd been considering two upcoming longer options: HATRun 50 K (now full) and the Bull Run Run 50 Miler. Both runs are fairly early in the year and both would have required me to get off my rear end right now. I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet as I've semi-settled into shorter running bursts during the week interspersed with strength training days and hanging out with KJ and the dogs. BRR is still under consideration since the lottery doesn't open until late next month, but HAT is sold out so clearly that one is out.

I've also wanted to run in my hometown again so I've been looking at the latest addition to the RnR marathons/halfs: Seattle! As silly as this may sound, I've been avoiding marathons--yes, I've been running far longer distances and for longer times, but there's something about me being so slow now that is resisting the speed work and tempo runs required to get me back into a road race. Have I whined enough yet? For sure.

The real answer is I'm not sure what's next--there are a lot of races coming up and a lot of miles still to cover so I'll think about it a bit more, get a few runs in in the meantime and get back to that.

I *have* decided that I need more dancing in my life though. I don't yet know if that means finally taking a belly dance class or getting back to my old standbys: jazz, modern and ballet?

Today one of my horoscopes says this:
You are a star, as evidenced by your full calendar. Today, examine the force behind your gift. It is not by accident that you excel on stage.

I'm not sure that means anything other than that I need to learn to take a compliment and that my hoop dancing exhibition at the work talent showcase may not have been as silly or as bad as I'm assuming it was. So, cosmos, thanks for the reminder.

Monday, November 24, 2008

JFK 46

Saturday, November 22 was the 46th running of the JFK 50 Miler and my first 50 miler. My biggest concern before the race was hitting all the elimination points in time, but soon after the first cut off I realized that I didn't need to worry at all. Somewhere between the first and fourth aid stations I made up enough time to remain in the race and to become an official finisher. Kurt was an excellent support crew of one, I survived without frostbite, dehydration or blisters! I'm pleased, but I'm also already mentally working out what I can do differently/better next time.

Yep, next time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning a new language

I am seeing things newly every day. I watched 60 Minutes last night and grinned uncontrollably as Barack Obama and our future first lady, Michelle Obama bantered congenially back and forth. "He seems like a really cool guy, someone you could and would want to hang out with or talk to, " Kurt mused--he read my mind. It still seems a bit unreal/surreal,like everything else these days.

Three weeks has turned into just 5 days and I've been spending the last few trail runs psyching myself out a bit: 12 hours? Just 12? Really? I'm walking a lot--can I really do this? And on and on with the head chatter.

I'm rolling my eyes right now because this is my silly way of keeping myself humble and retaining the proper respect for what I'm about to do. Others--many others--have done this before me and succeeded, but for me this IS a new experience, a new country/culture/language. I'm still teaching myself where to step, what to listen and look for and how to roll with things when they just don't go as planned.

Signs are cropping up everywhere, maybe because my eyes are more open now? Who knows. Dimes. Snakes. ASL. Dropping out of work and into life. Its all there, as it has been before--germinating and growing roots. The last is a note to myself to mark this moment. More, hopefully on this later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Its a New Dawn...its a New Day...

I've focused here on running because besides work and school THAT is what I do, but my friends also know that I have been watching the election very closely. I'm not going to hide my politics--I'm very excited about the outcome of the presidential election and think this an amazing opportunity for us to move forward in a positive way as a country. More thoughts on that in the coming weeks and months, but right now I am still basking in the spirit of celebration.

This morning I shared a few thoughts with friends and now I share them with you, dear blog.

I am overwhelmed. My mother called me from Seattle in tears. She's just happy her mother who was born in the Jim Crow South has lived to see this amazing turn of events. She and my aunt are making flight arrangements to come out and visit for the inauguration.

Before we went out to see Flobots last night we already knew that Barack Obama will be our next president AND we knew that the state I've grown up in had officially turned BLUE!

Driving to the 9:30 Club we listened to McCain's concession speech and drove through the subdued streets of Crystal City. DC was a whole different story. Every few blocks cars honked their horns to the rhythm O-BA-MA...O-BA-MA! Everyone crossing the streets wore Obama t-shirts, buttons, hats and huge grins.

In the club Flobots finished a song and then took a moment to reflect on change and our president elect. The crowd was small but energetic, buoyed by the spirit of something so monumental words don't do it justice. We all swayed and bobbed together to political hip hop rock Colorado style and when Obama was ready to speak the band took a break so we could all hear the sound of history in the making.

We were all aware that there is still so much further we have to go but we are moving together in the right direction. Yes. We are.

Flobots quickly dispatched George Dubya with a blistering cover of "Final Countdown." I laughed and Kurt and I sang along.

The show ended with a slightly slowed down "Handlebars" that seemed less like the kitschy fun song it once was and more a cautionary tale...

I can end the world in a a holocaust...

Maybe I was the only one who heard it, but I think not. The final song of the night, exhorted us all to "RISE", to be better people to be a better country to be the change we all so desperately seek.

Josh, the doorman with the surgical steel septum horns and the super gauged lobe stretchings bobbed his head slightly and wished us all a safe journey as we floated out the door into the damp night.

"Let's walk", Kurt and I agreed simultaneously.

We dropped down one block onto U Street and into another world. The sidewalks were a press of people high fiving and hugging strangers, wearing Mardi Gras beads and beatific expressions, homeless men in Obama shirts or no shirt at all cheering along with the 6 block long impromptu street party.

Outside an Ethiopian restaurant people bounced and danced to the strains of Kool & the Gang's "Celebration". People sat in their cars, going nowhere for quite some time, but content to share their go go music, to hang out their windows to wave fists--peace signs--flags, and to allow strangers to stand on the roofs and hoods of their cars.

At one corner I joined the real photogs in capturing shots of the blue rainbow airbrushed Vote 4 Barack car.

Amidst the fireworks and flags and people dancing atop bus shelters (ole ole ole ole!) DC Metro police and firefighters leaned on their cars and just watched--a few of them seemed to wish they could join the festivities.

We walked and walked, gawked a little, yelled a lot, high fived more than a few, held an impromptu traffic light rave and rejoiced in what is only the beginning...

Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don't you know
They're talkin' about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they're standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what's theirs

Don't you know
You better run, run, run...
Oh I said you better
Run, run, run...

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin' bout a revolution

Friday, October 31, 2008

3 Weeks

I can't believe I haven't posted since September and here we are on the final day of October! My first 50 mile is three weeks from tomorrow. I have new pictures and adventures to post (I ran most of a 50K two weekends ago) and new shoes! Actually they are the same trail shoes I always run in--just a different color.

I'm still working on my nutrition, but I think I've discovered a few different foods that work well.

Tonight I will be out celebrating Halloween with friends and then tomorrow I'll be up and out on the trail (should be quite an experience!). It would be wrong to dress the dogs up, right? ;)

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm here.Still.

Before my weekend of running started Saturday I got a rather unpleasant call informing me that a work colleague had been killed in an auto accident on Friday night. Stunned and sad for her surviving family, I spent my collective 22 miles of running this weekend in a meditative state. I also discovered a few more things about my on course nutrition that will hopefully help me prepare better for the 50K next month and to run stronger.

I've got a Pilates session tonight, a brief run after and then a day off tomorrow. I think my workouts this weekend are 3.5 - 4 hoursish each day. I need to do some route planning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Survived my *first* trail race

JamGirlz/Guyz have probably already read this and should feel free to move on to something more fun, like speculating on Phish's comeback tour (I'm still hoping for a huge 12/12/12 show to celebrate my big day--but that is all tangential).

On Saturday I ran my first official trail race, the VHTRC Women's Half Marathon. I've run many road halfs, a full, several 10ers and various other shorter length races, but this was my first foray into something a little (oh, hell, VERY) different.

The day was beautiful, if a little warm and humid, and the crowd had great energy. KJ and I even ran into a woman from the shelter who helped us adopt our second bully, Hippo (she even checked in on my at the last aid station to make sure I was still okay). My fears going into this race were totally unfounded--somehow I always forget that IN a race I find a way to keep moving, to keep running, to shut off the head stuff. Trail races are by nature slower than road races, but overall I did fine. I just enjoyed the scenery (at one point in a loop in the course there is a broken down Nash Rambler and another old car--a Ford Fairlane, maybe), the women were incredible and supportive and I just had a really stellar experience. One of my old housemates came in 3rd place, but she's always been a crazy fast ultrarunner.

I fell once in the first 5.1 miles and again in the last 3 or so so now I have this huge goose egg under my left knee, but I didn't bleed or completely scrape off the top layer of skin (as I have in road falls) and was able to get up from both falls, brush off the dirt and keep running. In fact, I think falling just made me run faster.

So now that I've had my first trail race experience I know a bit more what to expect in the 50K next month (boy, I need to get my mileage up!).

Yay! and its on to the rest of my training. ;)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pre-race planning

My next race is three days away and I'm already mentally lining up my running gear, figuring out the hydration situation. This is all good but its giving me time to get nervous. I think this is just a weird race year/schedule for me. I started out the year with a half marathon and rapidly rolled through a Spring racing season and have not actually raced since May or June. So, here I am several months later, head chatter in full force as if this is my first race ever. I'm contemplating the new Nano for all the new whistles, the higher storage capacity and the distraction possibilities.

I KNOW I'll have fun on Saturday, rain or shine--I love trail running--I just need to stop thinking for a second.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fountainhead practice run

I ran part of the Women's Half course yesterday as a practice run. Post-Hanna it was muddy and buggy, but its a really challenging course so Saturday's race should be *interesting*. This weekend I discovered a few things: the Stimulus pack is great for carrying all of my stuff but it makes me feel like I'm carrying around an extra few pounds and I'm not loving it. I think for the half I'll just bring a couple of handheld bottles and some gels and be satisfied with that. Also, my shoes are not the lightest, but they'll do fine for the road portion of the race. And I'm having a bit of a motivation issue. I'm not sure what it is. Hopefully, when race time comes I'll be able to find it somewhere, but I'm puzzled and concerned. I'm not usually like this--I have a race plan, I make adjustments, I provide my own motivation and most of all, I don't walk. I'm walking a lot these days and I just can't decide whether its motivation or fitness. Ay yi yi.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I just created this brilliant post and the blogosphere ate it (okay, it wasn't really brilliant--it was more me whining and justifying couchsitting tonight). Anyhoodle, I'm taking an unscheduled rest day tonight, hanging with the pups and watching a documentary...but if that destroys the illusion of me as dedicated to the point of crazy, pretend I'm going for a beach run with my pup.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to Back to Back

I had a completely leisurely week of running so I decided to stick rigorously to my training plan over the weekend. Did 90 minutes on Saturday--primarily flat trail plus stair repeats. I felt good after, but developed a raging headache in the afternoon because I ate only an apricot before my run and subsisted on Nuun (and a shot of Gatorade during and after). Dumb. I know better and vow to do better.

Yesterday I did 3 hours on the towpath and the Billy Goat trail. Out and back on the Billy Goat trail and additional mileage on the towpath. Crowded, but I ran into three women (two hiking together, one with other friends) whom I had encountered the last time I was out on Billy Goat. One recognized me by my running skirt and the others probably by my white hat/locs in a bun combo. Each encounter gave me the opportunity to pause and allow the large family groups ahead of me to move further forward...and a bonus in meeting the pair of women: I got to introduce two new people to the Potomac Heritage Trail! The trail is narrow and overgrown and I don't exactly relish it being overcrowded, but I was happy to share the info with such nice people. (Sophia--Sofia?-- and Kim, if you happen to encounter my blog in your search for the Potomac Heritage Trail/PHT, yay and drop me a line! Otherwise, perhaps I'll see you next time we are both out on the Goat trail.) I completely kicked the Camelbak about 20 minutes before my run ended so next time I'll remember to bring extra water bottles! I also developed raging headache part II after yesterday's run, even though I seemed to be well hydrated, had taken a gel 60 minutes into my run and eaten a Probar about 2.5 hours in. I love Probars and eating definitely helped so I'm thinking the issue is one of hydration. I love love love Nuun for its sugarfree goodness, but may need to supplement with salt tabs or something a bit stronger. Like during the Honolulu marathon, I think my body just has a hard time absorbing fluids and minerals in that heat. So, back to back runs and back to back headaches--bleh! I guess I'll keep experimenting until I find the right combo.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Olympic track and field coverage begins today and I am so excited to see the steeplechase, the women's and men's 100 and 200m and a host of other events. It would be even cooler to see it all in person, but I think its a bit late to fly off to Beijing so I'll be content with watching it all transpire from my couch.

Last night my Pilates instructor, in the midst of a particularly blistering shoulder bridge series, told me I'm crazy for running 50 miles. And on some levels that's true--even I can't quite fathom it sometimes, but most of the time it makes a good deal of sense to me. Like its the natural next step. Besides, I totally dig my Pilates instructor so I just laughed off her comments (inasmuch as I was able to laugh while balanced on shoulders with one leg in the air). I'm actually a bit sad to not be able to take the Advanced Pilates Mat class next session, but school begins in two weeks and I'll have a class on both Monday and Thursday night until mid-December. So I'll continue training for my runs and I'll sign up for an Intermediate class that better fits my schedule.

Monday, August 11, 2008


While I would love for this to be a post about slacklining, it is not. I went for a very brief run near Baltimore yesterday, but otherwise I did not run this weekend for a couple of different reasons. Instead I spent the entire weekend at Virgin Music Festival and I'm not ashamed! The DJ tent is STILL the best attraction, but several of the bands (She and Him, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Lupe Fiasco to name a few) were fantastic!

A quickie check up tomorrow and then back to training.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Training (REALLY) begins...

Saturday I logged a few short treadmill miles because it felt too oppressively hot to be outdoors. Sunday we: discovered that Turkey Run is a bit of a casual pickup park (um...yeah)...and finished the last 4 miles of the PHT--from Turkey Run to American Legion Bridge. Its beautiful out on the water and the path wasn't too crowded so overall it was a good run.

Yesterday was a rest day, but today my training officially began. I was supposed to do: 6-10 miles with 4 X 1 mile at 10 MP, but I settled for 7 miles at my pace (it was early, I was tired--it was kind of amazing that I even got out of bed).

I'm trying a modified Feed Your Tiger basic plan to clean up some of the repetitiveness of my diet (I feel like I eat the same breakfast and the same lunch salad every day) and to work on a few bad food habits. So we will see how that goes. I may be snoring at my desk by midafternoon, but hopefully not because I have A LOT to do today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My skin is your skin

I was reminded by a friend today that I also LOVE this project. Not just because I AM a word, but because the project is just super effing rad. The story's manuscript is waiting on my desk at home. Some day soon I'll read it.

Mini vacay

Yesterday was a normal rest day and today was a sleep late (read 5:30 AM) and miss your morning workout kinda day. Tonight KJ and I are going to dinner and then to see George Michael (I'm smiling big right now just typing that). I'm excited and I think my body needs a bit of a break.

The Trance 8s arrived last night so tomorrow I get to take them for a little two foot tour. The fit is good so far so I'm looking forward to it.

Did back to backs this weekend: Saturday on the PHT from Chain Bridge>Pimmit Run>stream crossing>Turkey Run and Sunday just a 3.8 miler at Accotink. I barely finished my stair run when the rain began to pelt the ground. I spent the rest of the day watching bad and semi-decent movies (One Missed Call and The Bank Job, respectively) and staying out of the Summer electrical storm.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saturday's end and Sunday begins

Back near the trail head I stopped to take a picture of the rocks on the river
Looking slightly sweaty and more than a little tired, Saturday's run comes to an end
The view down the Potomac from the bridge at Roosevelt Island began my run on Sunday. At the beginning of the bridge a group of park rangers and local kids provided emergency contact numbers, water, sports drinks, reflectors, whistles and maps to any trail users who needed them.
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Saturday's run continues

Rafters in the river
The cliff face across the river
Waiting for a hiking party to descend the cliff so I can go up
A lizard sunning on a rock. I saw a small snake on the way in, but he didn't stop long enough for me to take a picture.
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Weekend runs

This weekend I did two short back to back runs: Saturday on the Billy Goat Trail A in Great Falls and Sunday Roosevelt Island to part of Potomac Heritage.


A climber on the Virginia side.


The still water below

Taking a break and a breath to check out the path ahead
Hikers climbing down the cliff
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Last night I managed to get away from the pups long enough to trail test the new Cascadias and to get in a 45 minute run. I moved quickly because I knew I had little time to spare--quickly enough that my feet knew which rock to jump to next and how close to the edge I could scramble without falling into the stream. It was beautiful and quiet! I only saw two people during my run and they were at the beginning of the trail, no dogs, no trail maintenance crew (although I did see a few bags of litter waiting to be carted away), not even a single deer. It was weirdly silent so I took a bit of time to count my stream crossings and pause to occasionally look at the path behind me before I trotted on. I only wish I'd brought the camera along-- this portion of the path is so lovely and still.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Roosevelt Island Run

Marsh Flowers
Originally uploaded by Stars Are Stars
This is where our run began yesterday. From this angle you'd never know that every few feet we passed another couple, another couple of dogs or another group of people out enjoying the cloudfree day.

Its amazing that this very bridge is right next to the GW Parkway.

Georgetown looks so much better from this side of the river.

This picture doesn't do the falls justice. Again, RIGHT under the Parkway! In fact, the erosion above the falls was so bad we opted not to climb up to explore.

This was the path behind us--through and over the rocks.

Twisted trees toward the end of our run. At this point even the small child on a bike next to us was moving faster. It was a great run, a bit too hot, and very rocky, but I'll definitely do it again.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I like dirt.

A couple of things to know about me: I like things hot (sorta) and a little dirty (emphasis on the little part). ;)

1. Heat: I drink my coffee extra hot, almost exclusively. I don't know what it is, but there's something oddly incongruous about ice cubes and coffee. I definitely get some strange looks when I order an extra hot soy latte on a 90 degree day, but I like what I like. I also like my Thai food spicy (that's Thai spicy, not American spicy) and my reheated soup/sauces/leftovers need to bubble and boil a little before they are fit to eat. That being said, I only tolerate extreme high temps moderately well--go figure. I am enjoying trail running immensely, but I think it is the shade of the leafy trees that saves me from having an overheated experience like that in the Honolulu Marathon in 'o4. I also think that carrying enough water helps a little too. Sooooo...I think I need to spend a little money on a hydration racing vest that will keep me comfortably hydrated (and carry enough water for me AND the bf--who never comes prepared!)

This little beauty is pretty sweet, don't you think?

2. I don't mind sweating and getting a little dirty is fun. Who doesn't still wish she could stomp around in mud puddles like a little kid, hula hoop until dripping sweat or rock hop through the overgrowth splashing and collecting grit along the way? Okay, maybe not too many people still love to do this stuff, but I completely dig it. I love the crazy feeling of emerging in a new place on the trail only to be floored by the awesome beauty of a buck and a doe staring back at you from just a few feet away. My trail runs thus far have delivered all of this and more...oh so much more. On a recent Sunday run, we encountered so much litter and garbage on the trail I thought I would be physically ill. Really. Seeing all that post consumer, non-biodegradeable waste, rotting bits of food and stench nearly made me wretch. I like it dirty, but not like that! All the litter from careless trail users and fishers is threatening to make a beautiful headclearing run feel like drudgery. At this point I'm not even sure a trail clean up day every weekend of the Summer would resolve the problem and it just makes me a little sad. I feel like I need to resurrect that silly slogan from the '70s/'80s "Give a hoot, Don't Pollute!" and wear it on a neon shirt for every trail excursion. I wonder if that would actually work?

So now you know more than a few things extra things about me: I have old fashioned ideas about manners and I don't think Ma Nature is being treated very courteously.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The day arrives

The last several days have been full of oddball occurences and changes in plans, but KJ and I still managed a decent trail run on Sunday and a much needed rest day yesterday. I'm still waiting for the Trance 8 to debut (my feet are waiting too), but the wait for the JFK 50 Miler application to be released is over. I now have my completed application in hand and am trying to figure out whether I really need to apply for the 5 AM start time. It feels like more mental assurance than anything else, but I'm still up in the air about it and have at least one more day to decide. It would give me a 2 hour "leg up", but if I'm diligent about my training, I hear that I won't really need it. Decisions...

Friday, June 27, 2008

A beginning of sorts

In less than 6 months I will run my first ultramarathon, the JFK 50 Miler. My training begins next month and by August I will be immersed in combination road/trail training and trying to balance my life, my relationships, and my pups. And so it begins, or more accurately it continues. I am not a speed demon. I'm steady and methodical and everything I choose to do I do at my own pace. As I have done for the past 8 years, I'll run. I won't place and I won't finish at the back of the pack, but I WILL finish. Wish me luck, share your stories, feel free to volunteer as my crew because even though running is a very individual pursuit, it is nature and intellectual curiosity and the love of friends and family that allow me to challenge myself to keep going.