Saturday, August 27, 2011

Next On the List

If all goes according to plan I will have raced more miles in 2011 than in the past two years combined. I haven't raced since the Equinox Traverse more than a month ago and was getting antsy.

With a few emails and not enough planning (let alone training) for my taste, I find myself registered for a 30-hour adventure race less than a month away. Bill, B.J. and I will slog along the Virginia coast for a paddle-haevy race that will hopefully be a bit flatter than the other ARs I've attempted this year.

Just as I found myself starting to pick up a tiny bit of speed in my marathon training I find myself shifting gears from long road runs to trail runs, bike rides and trainer sessions.

It seems like I have my priorities in order?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last week/weekend/part of this week, I guess, I was in Maine for a wedding. For two nights I was there I stayed in an awesome, but scary as hell, old house along a river.

As soon as I walked in the door, I thought of this.

They were coming for me. The house was about 160 years old. Actually two old cape cods joined by a modern kitchen and living room, the house was a little bit spooky. And a lot scary.

This lady's eyes seemed to follow us everywhere we went.

I slept next to a typewriter that I was convinced would start typing away as I tried to dream of things other than giant damn monsters, dead girls climbing out of wells and Jack Nicholson frozen in a topiary.

No actual apparitions were seen, and I am not one to get freaked out easily, but the house flung off creepy vibes by the shit-ton. It also had doors that led to nowhere and small closets filled with old lace dresses and other weirdo things.

Even the outside was a bit sinister. The freakiness was compounded by the isolation of the area. Part Overlook, part Turn Of The Screw, part sort of interesting.

We all made it out alive. I think. Maybe I am living The Sixth Sense and haven't realized it yet. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sup, Dawgs

I met one of my lifelong goals this weekend -- stand-up paddling. Bill and I have mocked stand-up paddling for most of the year after REI started carrying SUP World Magazine. First we laughed that there was an entire magazine devoted to stand-up paddling, then that REI in Philadelphia decided to sell it -- who stand-up paddles when your only local bodies of water are the Schuylkill or the pool at the Y?

No issues of SUP World Magazine have ever been sold, apparently. But Bill and I resolved to try, uh, supping before the end of the year. You can't mock it until you try it.

This weekend I ditched Bill and headed up to Maine for Genny's wedding. "There will be a stand-up paddle board at one of the cabins," she promised. I braved cancelled flights, sleeping with strangers after the weather led to me being stranded in Portland with no car and no place to stay (the wedding was about 90 minutes north of the city) and a car ride with her now-sister-in-law (who was very nice) for the chance to see one of my oldest friends get herself all wedded up. And, as importantly, for the chance to sup.

What does one wear for supping? I went with a bathing suit, no PFD and no shoes. I figured I'd be going into the drink at some point and the less junk stuck on me, the better. Genny tossed some advice my way on how to steer and how not to get hit in the head with the board when I fell and I was off.

Hooray! It wasn't too hard, sort of fun and actually felt like exercise. Sort of like standing on a bosu ball while doing squats. Except half-naked in a lake in Maine. Also I know I have a bike short tan. I can see my own legs and people pointed it out to me all day. So thanks for not pointing it out to me again.

The weekend was sort of eventful, mostly related to the fact that the east coast was hit with some moderate thunderstorms that led to cancelled flights -- the maid of honor got stranded in Baltimore and wasn't able to make it up for the main event. But I was in Maine, with some old friends and few that I made along the way so no complaints.

I got in some decent runs -- a 12-miler when I got lost schlepping around Portland, a 7.5-miler and then hill repeats along the road in the creepy, old, awesome house I stayed in for two nights I was there. Not bad for a trip otherwise occupied by wine, beer and lots of chowdery things.

The hill repeat hill wasn't long, but it was steep.

 The rain mostly cooperated, the clouds made for some beautiful sunsets, the bride was happy and I got to eat my vegetarian dinner with a lobster bib on. Sweet!

Friends since the dawn of time. Or 5th grade. Whatever.

Table 9. In the house.

She cleans up well. Me, not so much.
Mosquitos, Mr. Miagi style.

It is necessary to wear a lobster bib while eating lettuce.

COMING UP NEXT: The spooky old house.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Am All For Helmets, But ...

Bill was in San Francisco last week for a wedding. I got to stay home and work, sadly. The fact that I had to stay home was magnified when Bill returned and shared with me a picture of a man on a scooter thingy wearing an areo helmet. I cannot believe that this piece of awesome existed in the world and I missed it.

I am all for head safety. And I get (sorta) the whole aero thing for, you know, triathlons and time trials and stuff. But this takes aerodynamics to a whole new level of spectacular.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Have A Screamer

On Saturday I laughed so amazingly hard during my run. Absolutely the hardest I've ever laughed while running. The hardest I have laughed in months. Wait, that's a lie. The other night Bill and I almost drowned in our tears of laughter thanks to this:

Anyway, on Saturday I was running in the park, plugging along at a relatively hard effort, clomping along on some double-wide trails. A girl and a guy were walking along a bit in front of me. I got closer and closer, sounding like a herd of elephants breathing like a herd of Darth Vaders. I was loud. I got closer to them and, as I was just a few feet behind him, "On your left."

The woman spun around and, at this point, was about three inches from my face.


Not expecting this reaction, I became scared to death so I joined in.


They hadn't heard me, and my apparent ninja self, coming down the trail. And I scared the crap out of them. And then they returned the favor.

"I thought you were going to stab me," the girl said.

"I am not a stabber, I promise!" Really, lady, it is the city and all, but even I don't live in that kind of fear.

And then I started laughing and laughing. And they did too. I laughed so hard I had to sit on a rock so I didn't tip off the side of the trail.

Eventually we were all on our way. I spent the rest of my run yelling "On your left!" the second anyone came into view. Scaring two souls in one run is enough.


Saturday, August 13, 2011


Apparently I am slowly turning into this guy:

It's my feet, you see. Both of them are getting bigger. When I first started running about 10 years ago I was able to easily squeeze my tootsies into a size 7, sometimes a 7.5. My first pair of proper running shoes that I got when I was a sophomore in high school were a 7.5. How do I know this? I still own the shoes, now approaching their 17th birthday.

In a failed attempt to pile all of my running shoes into one spot and determine which ones needed to go to the great shoe rack in the sky I realized that most of my running shoe are now 8s or 8.5s.


I never really pay attention to what size shoes I buy. If they fit, I buy them. But I was surprised to see that my feet are apparently, at the age of 33, growing like mad. I asked my local running store guy about this and he said that yeah, in fact, after people run for a while their feet can flatten and spread out.

Terrible, terrible.

I am just shy of five foot two and am apparently on my way to having catamarans as feet. Please help. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Paddle In Pictures

Hello. I am a blogging slacker. The real world has taken over a bit. Bill's home from school for the summer (except for the fact that he leaves for Napa bright and early on Thursday morning and I get to stay home) and, oddly, I'd rather hang out with him outside than sit in front of a computer inside. Blog neglect, alas.

Last week we found ourselves with an empty weekend. I told Bill to fill it. On Tuesday, between staff meetings, meetings, more meeting and also meetings, I got a text from Bill. "How about a paddle trip through the Delaware Water Gap?" "Ok," I shot back, too preoccupied with all the junk going on around me to give informed consent.

The next thing I knew we were booked for an overnight 28-mile paddle trip along the Delaware River.

I hate to paddle. It's my least favorite part of adventure racing. I always feel like we are going nowhere, fast. Plus my arms are as strong as wet pieces of stale Ramen, second in weakness only to my core strength. Give me an 8-hour trek up a mountain or a hike-a-bike over a paddle any day.

Too late, though. Bill paid for the trip and I found myself obsessing over the crazy thunderstorms that were supposed to pound the area all weekend and over whittling our gear down only to what we absolutely needed to stay safe and moderately dry.

After a night in a rather bizarre motel we stuffed our junk into a few billion dry bags and headed to a parking lot. I did a little "I am so excited about spending 28 miles in a kayak" dance.

I got this move from Dancing With the Stars. See?

We waited alongside the river for the people with the kayaks to come get us, give us boats and shuttle us to the put-in. They were only 10 minutes late coming to get us, hooray!

I'd been worried about fitting our minimal amount of junk into the kayaks but we ended up having plenty of room. Plus we brought our own PFDs, avoiding the smelly rental ones, so that was nice. We were, however, basically the only people we saw with life jackets the entire weekend. Apparently people like to risk drowning. We are dorks so we wore ours.

Packing took about 8 seconds and we were on our way by 10:30.

A small armada of canoes was about to launch so we hustled along, hoping to avoid the traffic jam. Our hustle worked and we had most of the river to ourselves for the first hour or two. The people we did see were generally just floating along, a few dozen beers in their hands. I like to drink. I like to drink beer. So does Bill. As a reminder though, we are dorks and didn't bring any beer with us (we did, however, have a flask of whisky to amuse us once we set up camp).

Also if you look closely in the last picture above you can see people in diving gear. Two dudes decided that the mud and congestion of the Delaware would make a good place to dive. To each their own.  But also WTF?

We paddled along and along. I was having fun despite my attempts not to.

I had fun, that is, until Bill mocked and mocked me for having hand sanitizer in my life jacket pocket. Hey, you never know when the urge for clean hands is going to hit. We stopped at a park, took our time and enjoyed the day.

We got about 17 miles of the 28 in before deciding to pull off the river at about 2:30 and set up camp. Four seconds after we pitched our tent the sky unloaded. Our tent is approximately the size of a sperm. It was 3 p.m. There was no way in hell I was going to spend the next 18 hours in our tent.

"Hey! I packed a tarp at the last minute because your friend had it on her list she emailed to us. I'll hang it up and we'll have a place to stay dry outside the tent!," Bill exclaimed.

I was excited! A tarp city!

And then he busted out the tarp. It was the size of a Monopoly board. With holes in it. But it was all we had. We bungeed it to a tree and staked it into the ground and hung out under it for a few hours. Whiskey became my new best friend. It was raining too hard to take pictures but here's a re-enactment the next morning just to give you an idea of the copious amount of dry space the glorious tarp provided to us.

It began raining even harder. Despite rain pants and jackets we were getting soaked. By 5:30 we were in the tent for the night. Bill, amazingly, fell asleep in about two seconds. I, amazingly, didn't. I had a good book, a headlamp and the rest of the whiskey so I was able to entertain myself for a bit. By 8, however, I was wide awake and bored out of my mind. I woke up Bill.

"Get up! I am bored!"

We played cards. Then we played "How Many Things Can You Impersonate With a Buff?"

"Bank Robber" and "Pig On a Spit" were two of our biggest hits. We got giddy, sequestered into our new little home.

Bill eventually fell asleep and I stayed up, listening to the rain pound the tent -- it was the first time we used it in shitty weather and I was convinced it would give out, leaving us to sleep in puddles. It totally rocked the rain, though, and aside for a few drops of condensation we stayed totally dry. Happy! Hooray for our tent!

At some point I must have drifted off. I woke up to no rain! I was so excited! I did my second dance of the weekend, the "I Am So Excited I Get to Paddle 11 Miles Not In the Rain" dance. You know you sweat my moves.

We sat around for a bit, sipping on canned coffee, enjoying the view and the lack of people. Humanity, sometimes I love to be away from you!

Thanks to the rain the river was significantly higher than the day before. At the last minute we pulled our boats a few feet higher onto shore. A damn good thing -- you can see in the middle picture above that our sweet rides ended up only a few inches from the river.

Eventually we were on our way, propelled by a faster current and my desire to get home and take a tubby.

The forecast had called for rain but it ended up being a nice, partly sunny, not-too-hot day. Then Bill decided to spoil the mood by playing Lawrence of Arabia. On a river with sunglasses.

We soon found ourselves under a giant highway bridge -- the takeout was just around the bend. Despite my initial fears of hating the trip and being washed away in the river I ended up having a great time and Bill seeemed to be in heaven the entire time (14 hours stuck in a tent with me will do that to a person). He's now trying to talk me into buying touring kayaks but I am not convinced at all ... yet.