Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sean's Epic Ride and Tie

This past weekend while I was in Duluth tearing up the marathon course Sean trekked north to Humboldt, CA for the Ride and Tie World Championship. Two runners, one horse and 35 miles of hilly trails! Unfortunately for Sean and his partner, their horse Iron Wyll was pulled at the second vet check but Sean didn't find out until he was already on Mile 30 and so to get back to camp he finished running the last 5 miles. Apparently he only rode Wyll for a total of 1 minute and thus this qualifies as Sean's first Ultra run too. Here is his account of the race as told to fellow competitor and Ride & Tie legend Mark Richtman:

Sean riding Iron Wyll
Well, I had a lot of fun out there, horse or no horse.  Let's see -- we started together, and you led out the pack.  After what, half a mile, I took the lead.  The next thing I knew you were flying by on a fury rocket of a horse.  I saw you again one switchback ahead of me going down the first hill -- I passed Jim going down that hill but never caught you.  Wyll was waiting for me at the bottom there, and I trotted through camp and caught John on that single track just on the other side of camp.  I got to ride three more times after that: one short stint on the flat section between the two first hills, for a little bit going up that second hill, and finally for that last mile before the first vet check.  You passed me going the other way in the river, so you must have been 3 or 4 minutes ahead of me.  John passed me going the other way in the river too, so I think we timed that exchange pretty well.

Pre-race meeting and strategizing

Horse and people camp

Geared up and ready
That second loop was really beautiful and the running conditions were perfect.  I ran up the hill, passed first by Jim's daughter and then by Mary.  John never caught me, which certainly made me nervous.  I slowed down to an easy jog (on purpose, not from fatigue) through the last two miles of single track hoping he'd catch up, but he never did.  I ended up waiting at the entrance to the vet check for at least 10 minutes.  Just as we were about to send a rescue party, there he comes trotting slowly down the trail.  I take him and walk him into the vet check, then head out onto the third loop.  I was definitely tired going up that hill, and had to walk a few times.  I saw Mary trying to find the easy boot, but couldn't help her.  Up and up and up, then across the ridge, until the guy in the truck at mile 30 told me that Wyll had been pulled.  So, I just kept on chugging, and saw Mary one more time on the last two mile stretch again fiddling with the easy boot.  I'm really sorry that happened, what a bummer.  

A Team with great socks

Sean leading Wyll into the vet check

Mark and another runner
I had a wedding to go to which started at 3:30, so I couldn't stick around to chat as I was already obscenely late.  Anyway, I really had fun and next time I hope we have a more even race.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grandma's Marathon

The following is my story and I'm sticking to it! 

The Days Before:

I spent Wednesday traveling to Duluth. Thankfully, it went smoothly and there were no flight delays despite heavy fog at the tiny Duluth "International" Airport. I was picked up by the Hospitality committee and driven to my hotel. After checking in and decompressing a bit I went for a short jog along the waterfront. The weather was crisp, cloudy and breezy, a good sign for Saturday's race! I basically spent the next two days bumming around Duluth coffee shops, finishing a couple books, getting some good jogs and walks in and holing up in my hotel room watching movies on HBO. Friday I put Mary's rice cooker to work and ate lots of rice all day between picking up my race packet and sorting out transportation and clothing details. 

The Play by Play:

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 4:30am. I made myself coffee with the French press and grounds I had brought along and suited up in my new Asics Aggies uniform and (almost) brand new Asics shoes. I will admit I spent about 15 minutes switching pairs of shoes and taking little jogs around my hotel room trying to see which felt more "right". I finally decided to just go with the Asics and stop stressing about it. I caught our Elite Athlete bus at 5:30am and off we drove to the start! On the bus I sat next to a nice guy named Leo from Ohio who was going for the men's standard. On the bus ride there I felt the most relaxed I have ever been before any race. My stomach was quiet and my brain was surprisingly quiet. Usually some nerves right before a marathon are a good thing but this morning, nada. Cool as a cucumber.

When we got to the start we had a short walk to the "elite staging area" which was really just the stretch of road in front of the starting line with some special port-a-potties lined up. No heated tent this time around. I got in line for the bathroom, went, and then put my bag down on the side of the road, ate two packs of Gu Chomps and went for a short jog. The weather was shaping up to be perfect, cloudy and cool with a definite tail wind. I chatted briefly with a few other women and there was clearly a group there going for the B standard and also a small group going for the A standard. I did a couple short pickups and felt that my legs were there this morning, they felt springy, light and ready to roll. Before I knew it, it was time to strip the layers and line up! I kept on a fleece headband, arm warmers and gloves for the start, all of which I expected to gradually take off and throw away.

Hanging out at the start
Once the wheelchair racers went off, we pressed forward to the starting line and waited patiently for the starter to blow the horn. And then after 2 minutes of eternity we were off! The lead men took off FAST but the road was wide enough there was plenty of room to settle into a reasonable pace. I had my Garmin on and it was behaving surprisingly well! I wanted to start at 6:10-6:15 pace and that's exactly what I ran for the first 3 miles or so. I was definitely holding myself back to get really warmed up and all of a sudden the 2:46 group of women was on me. I could hear them talking a LOT about how FAST this pace was and how hard it was going to get because geez they went out way too FAST. I decided there was no way I was going to stay with them because they talked way too much. And all this talking about how hard the pace was was no good. 

I picked it up to under 6:10 pace mainly to get ahead of these Chatty Cathies and looked for another group to latch onto. I could see the 2:39 group waaay in front of me and it was going to take a big effort to catch up to them so I decided I would just be patient and not make any sudden moves. Somewhere before the 5 mile mark a guy in a red singlet started running close to me and our pace was syncing up as well as our strides. I decided I would run with him for a while to see what happens... maybe I could use him to catch up to the 2:39 group. I asked if he minded me running with him and he said of course not, so I just latched on! It was great, we started rolling off the miles and I felt so smooth and comfortable just chugging alongside. When we got to the 10 mile mark another guy caught up to us. We will call him Tall guy. Tall guy fell into pace with Red Singlet and me and the three of us stayed close together for the rest of the race. 

There were water stations every two miles or so and I was taking a cup of water at each station. I would drink a couple sips and then dump the rest over my head. The Grandma's course was pleasantly rolling with gentle uphills and downhills where we could really crank. Every downhill the guys would really pick up the pace and I just went with them. Occasionally I would glance at my Garmin and see that we were well under 6-minute pace and have a momentary attack of "What am I thinking??" But then I would remind myself that as long as I felt nice and relaxed I should stick with it. Whatever happened, I absolutely did not want to leave these guys and get left in no man's land. Go big or go home. 

We went through the half in 1:20 ish and this was when I first realized that I was having a banner day and would definitely get under 2:46 as long as I stayed smart and in control. Miles 14 through 20 flew by and I kept telling myself to think of it as a long tempo. I just had to make it until mile 20 and then push the last 10K hard. When we passed the 20 mile marker I started pushing the pace and the two guys responded. We started running 5:55s and I just kept telling myself it was a 10K race. And I can run a 10K at 5:55 pace any day of the week, with both eyes closed, with a bag around my head... 

With my impromptu pacers
The dreaded Lemon Drop Hill at mile 22 was a piece of cake. It certainly doesn't compare to anything we train on in Marin. Running up the fire road to Phoenix Lake is much much harder! We had started passing many many runners at this point and the more women we passed the more confident I became. At mile 23 I was starting to hurt but kept focused on catching and passing whoever was in front of me. When we hit the cobblestone section at mile 24 the change in surface made it a bit hard to keep my pace going and the two guys started pulling away. But Tall Guy kept waving for me to catch them and I tried so hard to not let them get away. I dug deeper than I ever thought I could dig and found a level of effort and grit that I never even knew I had to not let the gap get any bigger. I was slowly inching up on two women running together ahead of me and I wanted more than anything to catch them and pass them. We passed the 25 mile marker and I had gotten just a little bit closer. Suddenly, a few strides later I was right behind them! Then I let myself go into a sprint mode and flew by them, I swerved around the last couple turns before the finish and almost caught back up to Tall Guy. When I finally saw the finish line and the clock it read 2:38:10. I kept staring at it in disbelief watched it inching slowly up towards 2:39:00. I sprinted those last couple meters and crossed the line in 2:38:46!

I can only describe how I felt at the finish with the word Cathartic. I felt such a sense of release and relief compounded by disbelief in my own performance. It was  a perfect culmination of months of hard training and focus and I felt a huge flood of euphoria. Now I no longer had the nagging moniker of ALMOST getting the qualifying standard. I can proudly say I got the standard and the A Standard at that. Next up, Olympic Trials in Houston!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Chicks on the Block

After a full year of chicken ownership it is now time to expand our flock once more with new chicks. Over the course of the last year we've gone from 8 chickens to a high of 12 and now back down to just 7. When the chickens really hit their stride in egg production we had a few months of getting 8-10 eggs every single day. Alas the life of a laying hen can be short if egg production is what you're after. The first year is generally the most prolific in terms of number of eggs layed and production drops off after that. Chickens can also fall victim to a number of maladies. 

We've had to cull a few hens due to behavioral problems or sickness. Once was picking on the smaller chickens and drawing blood constantly. One had sour crop and we also lost a hen due to a stuck egg which broke inside her. Most recently we had to cull a chicken which had picked up the most dreaded of all bad habits: Egg Eating. She single handedly ate 3 eggs one morning before Sean caught her in the act! 

Due to these losses our flock was getting quite small for their space and so we decided to expand! We now have 8 adorable baby chicks living in a mini coop. They will need to be kept separate from the adult chickens until they are old enough to switch to adult chicken food and they are large enough to assert themselves in the flock. Meanwhile, the big chickens love to sit around under the mini coop and hide. 

They are too cute. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bay to Breakers

The Bay to Breakers 12K race took place on Sunday but for me the race seemed to go on all weekend long. Friday was the elite athlete press conference, my first ever! When my coach Mark told me I was to run Bay to Breakers two weeks ago I never expected to get treated as an elite athlete complete with all the bells and whistles. I arrived at the Hyatt on Friday not quite knowing what to expect. 

The press conference took place in a nice room off of the hotel lobby and consisted of an opening speech by the race director, introductions of the athletes and then an open question and answer session. Most of the questions were directed towards the defending women's champion Lineth and one of the top American male runners and a personal hero of mine Meb Keflezhigi. However towards the end of the session a reporter wanted to hear from us local first time runners and get our thoughts on the race. The press seemed to enjoy my response about the race being a party event for a number of my friends in the city, and after the formal session a couple reporters wanted little interviews with me! I tried to be charming, intelligent and not too self conscious. 

After the press conference was over we got treated to a delicious lunch. The food was really good and very runner friendly. I even got to sit next to Meb and gush at him all through the lunch. 

The next day, Saturday, we had a pre-race dinner meeting which I attended with Val. It was also at the Hyatt and during the dinner we filled out paperwork, signed posters and figured out race morning logistics. Val and I were checking our watches all night to see when we could get out of there and get into bed! It was going to be a very early morning, we were supposed to be gathered in the hospitality room at the hotel at 5:15am. 

I fell asleep pretty quickly Saturday night and felt like I slept deeply and well. I woke up feeling excited and refreshed but of course it was still dark out. Just to make sure, I checked the time on my watch. It read 1:59am! Oh boy, I was ready to go but I was supposed to sleep until 4am! So then I laid in bed and tried to go back to sleep but it didn't really happen. I snoozed on and off for the next couple hours and when the alarm finally sounded I was out of bed like a shot. First things first I trooped upstairs and turned on the coffee maker that I had pre-filled the night before. As the coffee got brewing I made sure my timing tag was on my shoes and also made a couple hard boiled eggs. Once the coffee was done I poured myself a cup and started drinking it. Even though I was pretty awake at that point I like my coffee too much to not have any! 

Then I went back downstairs and got suited up: compression socks, race shorts, sports bra and singlet with my number already attached. I put on a couple of layers over that including a rain jacket and hat and took my backpack upstairs. Sean had gotten up at this point and was wandering around with his coffee muttering about how early it was. My stomach was grumbling at this point so I ate one hard boiled egg with salt and finished up my coffee. After one last check of my stuff we left the house at 4:40 to pick up Val from the park and ride. 

Val was waiting for us by the time we got to the park and ride so it was a quick stop to let her hop in the car, and then we got on the freeway towards San Francisco. Traffic was minimal but still there were a lot of cars for 4am on a Sunday, clearly a lot of Marinites were heading towards Bay to Breakers! The night before Alexa Glencer had asked if we could pick her up in the Marina on our way to the Hyatt race morning so of course I said yes. We picked up Alexa on Lombard St. and Sean then took his super secret way to get to the front door of the Hyatt. We got to the hotel at about 5:20am and there were already lots of racers and runners milling around on the streets outside. 

When we got to the  hospitality room it was packed with the elite runners and all their gear. Everyone was wearing full rain gear and pants in anticipation of crummy weather. Val and I got to assure everyone that it had in fact stopped raining and was warming up to a perfect racing temperature. I drank some more water and sat in the chair reading the paper until about 5:40. Josh then came in and rounded us up for the walk to the start. It was quite a procession as all 30 or so of us trooped through the lobby of the Hyatt and through the revolving doors. We walked the 4 blocks or so to the start and were led to Howard street, just in front of the starting line. There were a ton of barriers up with lots of security checking our bibs. We did not have a tent but did have dedicated bathrooms that were a step up from just porta-potties. After putting our bags down, Val and I did a warmup. Howard street was completely closed for about 1.5 miles so we jogged to the end and back. 

By the time we got back from the jog it was 6:30 and time to put our bags on the sweat bus. I reluctantly gave up my jacket, long sleeve, pants and hat. It was a bit cold but once I was moving it was fine. I also ate a Gu and drank some water with it. Now that it was getting close to race time I started doing striders. The top seeded runners were able to use the warm up space with us so I saw a lot of area runners too. The centipedes were out warming up and practicing staying together! I also saw Andy Chan and Time Wallen and Dan Shore. I chatted with Magda a bit, and told her I was so nervous! She was so sweet, she told me not to worry and that I would do great. 

The announcer finally called us to the line and we lined up behind the starting mats. Us Elite Women were starting at 6:55:24am and the men would start at 7:00am along with the first wave of seeded runners. I lined up next to Magda and Kaitlin and we all stood with our timing watches ready. The gun went off and I flew out of the start. I made sure to definitely stay behind Magda and Annie! The Kenyan and Ethiopian women formed their own little pack and were gone like a shot. I would only be see them for the first mile or so of the race. Then they were completely gone! 

The first mile is very flat and on a very wide street so we all had a lot of room. I tucked in behind Michelle Frey and alongside Laura Bennett. The three of us were only a couple feet behind Annie and Magda. About two blocks in I heard Sean on the sidewalk cheering for me and yelling my name. The night before Mark and I had discussed strategy and he told me to tuck in with someone and get pulled along for as long as possible. We went through the first mile in 5:31, pretty quick! At this point Annie and Magda started to pull ahead. As we made the right hand turn onto.. 8th? and then crossed Market, Magda made a bit of a wrong turn. She made a sharp left instead of an easy left and had to backtrack back onto the course! It was a bit dicey in this intersection because of the tracks in the street and there were some big potholes. 

I stayed with Michelle and Laura to the bottom of the Hayes Street hill. Magda turned it on going up the hill and opened a big gap on us. She ended up catching Jane Kibii and running with her for the rest of the race. We saw all the Elvises at the bottom of the hill and they cheered quite loudly for us. There were tons of people lining the street at this point and it was very loud! That helped me go up the hill. Laura and I pushed together and dropped Michelle going up the hill and we also caught Annie on the way up. I felt strong climbing the hill. 

Once we reached the top of the hill Laura really bombed it down the other side. I couldn't stay with her and feel safe and comfortable to I let her get ahead. Annie also bombed it down the hill... I wonder how they could do that! At that point I was running alone but could see both Annie and Laura ahead of me. At the next little uphill I caught back up to Annie and stayed with her for the next mile or so. We got to Golden Gate Park and I saw Mary cheering for me. My legs at this point felt sooo good and hardly tired! The elite men started passing us and were just absolutely flying.

As we ran through the park I tried to really work the rolling terrain. Just before the 6 mile marker however I felt a stomach cramp coming on! Oh no, I had a moment of panic and had to ease up a bit to try and let it pass. It never really got too bad but I did feel a bit constricted in my breathing. At that point I had to let Annie go because I was afraid to make my cramp worse and be unable to breathe. I just wanted to keep my pace and run strong to the finish. Meb passed me and said "Good job! Way to go!" 

The last mile went by really fast and before I knew it I was making the turn on the Great Highway. As soon as I rounded the corner I hit a huge headwind! The wind was whipping south to north, making the finishing straightaway a battle. I tucked my head down and pushed as hard as I could into the wind and got passed by the Aggies centipede just before the finish. I saw my time, 42:35 and was really happy. At the finish I felt really great about how I ran the race, and how well I felt during it. Aside from the cramp in the later part of the race I felt so fit and so strong! I think next time I won't be eating any eggs before the race... too hard to digest. 

I then went into the elite athlete tent and started putting on my sweats since it was quite cold and windy at Ocean Beach. I talked to Laura Bennett and her husband Greg a lot at this point. They are both amazing triathletes, Olympians and national champs!! I finally found Sean at the finish area and we all went for a cool down run. As we entered Golden Gate Park, Meb joined us and chatted with Sean and Greg. We did a short cooldown, about 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back. 

I think Greg and Laura win for Fittest Couple
Meb, will you be my new BFF?
When we got back from the cool down, I saw Mark and we talked a bit about the race. He was so happy with my run! We then went to the VIP tent and had a nice hot breakfast with other racers and some press people. By the time 9am rolled around I was finally getting tired and ready to leave. Val, Sean and I said our good-byes to Josh and the other athletes and got on out of there. There were thousands of runners streaming through the finish line at this point, including some very naked ones and it was quite a battle to avert our eyes when one was approaching. Sean had park about 3/4 of a mile away so we walked to the car and then headed on home. 

After a short stop at home, Sean and I went to the Civic Center Famer's Market for second brunch. We love The Taco Guys and stopped at their tent first. The guy saw my pink B2B sweater and was so excited that I had run the race. Sean told him I finished in 9th place and he was so flabbergasted he said the tacos were on him. He gave us a free drink too. It was delicious and he kept gushing about my run to everyone else in line.

By the time we got home from the farmer's market I was read to drop. I wanted to take a shower but fell asleep on my bed for 2 hours instead :-)

All in all it was an unbelievable weekend, it was exhausting but so much fun. I got to meet such incredible people and run a great event. I am definitely eager for more high profile events like this but they are quite draining. It is another step in my journey as a runner and I am ready for my next great new experience! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Unforeseen Adventure

Last weekend was sunny and warm. Perfect for two days of medium-long running on trails. Little did I know what I was getting myself into on Saturday when I asked Sean where he would like to run. Sean's achilles has been feeling quite a bit better and so he was itching to get out onto the trails. We chose a route that would take us from downtown Mill Valley to Alpine Lake and loop back. In hindsight, our original chose route was quite long and we would have never been able to run it in under 2 hours.

We climbed up Railroad Grade and headed over towards Marin Municipal Watershed area on a series of fire roads. A few stretches are quite steep but the surface is usually good and there's little chance of brushing up against poison oak. The views were amazing on this perfectly clear day. Despite Sean's many months of not running, he can still kick my ass up a steep hill. I suppose those extra pounds of muscle always come in handy.

This is one of my favorite long run routes because we get all the climbing over with in the first 2 miles. After a series of steep climbs, it's a long smooth gradual downhill to the MMWD reservoirs and I love doing a 20 miler this way. The first 10 miles heading out are on fire roads and then we drop down to Ross and take the roads and bike path home for a flat finish where we can work on hitting good paces. Having two different halves with varying scenery makes the 20 miles fly by!

On this day however Sean wanted to explore a trail we had never taken before. The Kent trail winds alongside the banks of Alpine Lake before turning south and heading uphill towards Potrero Meadows. I knew these trails would have difficult footing and be very slow but it was such a gorgeous day I didn't mind the thought of having to hike some portions. I also made sure we brought plenty of Gu so we wouldn't get stuck without any calories. This turned out to be a lifesaver. 

Once we got to the watershed and close to the "Lakes" I decided on a spur of the moment side trip to the top of Pilot's Knob. This little hill has my favorite view of Mt. Tam and is a fun little climb that also passes by what was once the largest Madrone on the mountain. Sadly the Madrone fell over last year but it is still amazing to see the colossal trunk and branches, now worn smooth by climbers. Little did I know that we would get another special surprise on this trail. 
Heading up Pilot's Knob trail
I was running in front of Sean on the single track trail when suddenly I saw a couple next to the base of a large tree just off the side of the trail. I was moving at a pretty good clip (and perhaps stealthily) so the poor woman was trying desperately to pull her underwear back on! We had run into an amorous couple trying to make the most of a seemingly deserted trail on a beautiful spring morning. Little did they know silent speeding runners were on the loose! It was the funniest thing I've seen on the trails. When Sean and I got to the top we cracked up laughing. My only fear is that since I did not get a good look at their faces, it may have been people we know! 
At the top of Pilot's Knob, sans amorous couple

We descended from Pilot's Knob and took one of my favorite trails, Shadyside to get around Bon Tempe Lake. Halfway around the lake, what I can only describe as an androgynous looking white Kenyan blows by us in the opposite direction. He was all legs and compression socks, pure effortless form and both Sean and I were in awe. I racked my brain trying to think of who this elite runner could possibly be... he looked so young but so pro at the same time. I finally thought of Eric Olson, Novato High standout and now a freshman at Stanford who had a stellar cross country season. Since I had never seen or met Eric I made a note to look him up on Google once we got him. After that humbling encounter with a true running phenom, we arrived at Alpine Lake and headed down Kent trail. 

It started innocently enough, a smooth wide gently downhill fire road for about a half mile which shrank to a single track through pine forest. This soon became a ROCKY single track through pine forest and then a WASHED OUT single track through pine forest. We followed the detour signs and took a left on a little tiny deer trail. Since it seemed about time to turn left and head back up the mountain, we assumed we should just follow this little trail uphill and climb up to Potrero Meadows. The trail peetered out in several spots but we always seemed to "find" it again. 
I'm not sure if there is actually a trail here
Sean was doing the trial blazing at this point and he led us farther and farther up the mountain until we came to a large swampy lake. And then... there was no more trail! 
Do you see a trail? I'm still looking.
We were now under the redwoods and everything under a redwood forest looks like a trail. There were lots of possibilities but none that seemed to lead anywhere. We wanted to continue uphill and get over the top of the ridge and we knew we were close but without a compass it is very difficult to know exactly which direction you're going. After exhausting the possibilities and considering some serious bushwhacking, we made the call to backtrack down the hill and hook up with Kent trail again. I am not comfortable being "lost" in the wild and I would rather trace our steps to get back to a known location and a legitimate trail. Luckily we were able to retrace our route and eventually did get back to Kent trail. It was then that we saw the correct detour around the washed out portion. We realized that it was still too early to make the turn uphill and we had just followed some deer trail up the mountain for over a mile. 

Once we found the correct turn, it had already been about two hours since we left downtown Mill Valley and this was getting to be a much longer run than I had anticipated. Thankfully we had been going slow and taking our time over the terrain so our mileage was not that high yet. At this point I thought about our way back and realized if we were to run all the way back to downtown Mill Valley it would be an incredibly long run. The climb up to Potrero Meadows was 2.5 miles and quite a leg burner. Once we got to the Meadows we started seeing a lot of other hikers so my fears of being lost forever on the north side of Mt. Tam were put to rest. However, we were still unfamiliar with the trails here and didn't know the fastest shortest way back to Mill Valley. 

We took a route we knew which got us to Laurel Dell but looking at the map later, it turned out heading to Laurel Dell added another loop when we should have gone the opposite direction to go straight to Rock Springs. We finally ended up taking Cataract trail to Rock Springs and found a ton of cars in the parking lot. Sean's achilles had started hurting and it was getting on 3.5 hours since we left. Our Gu was long gone and we had only had water once during the whole run. Sean started looking for likely candidates who would take two thirsty hitch hikers down the mountain. Luckily an Envirosports trail race had just taken place and there were tons of runners and families finishing up and heading down the mountain. A very nice runner from Reno and his parents drove us back to downtown Mill Valley and we were very thankful. 

After drinking a lot of water and inhaling lunch from Punjabi burrito, we decided that was one of the more fun and interesting runs we've done. However we were very lucky and it could have turned out much worse. Things I learned from Saturday's adventure:

1. If you're going on unknown trails, always bring a little map. Just because you grew up in the area or run a lot on the trails doesn't mean you can find your way home. 

2. Always bring some Gu or water if heading out on a new trail. 

3. Don't be afraid to hitch hike. Someone nice will help you out and it's way better than suffering another hour home. 

4. Never run on Kent Trail. 

5. A little adventure is nice now and then. But I'll be running on known routes for the next couple of months. Or at least running with someone who knows the trail. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

All Wet

It's been a cold, wet, stormy winter here in Mill Valley and this week has been no exception. Monday was supposedly the first day of spring but instead of sunshine and baby birds we're gifted with torrential rain, crazy wind and even a dose of thunder and lightning. This kind of weather makes for truly epic, adventurous trail running. However, if you're in a rebuilding phase like me it's a great excuse to stay dry and cross train. I feel for all those runners out there in heavy mileage weeks who face 20 milers in pouring rain.

Our backyard drainage can't keep up!

But the rain is not all bad. It's filling our reservoirs and saturating the ground, paving the way for a season of tree growth and good crops. The skies may be gray but our backyard is screaming GREEN. Every tree, shrub and vegetable is bursting with new leaves and the grass on the hillside has grown, gone to seed, and is now growing a second round. Our young fruit trees are exploding with new shoots and will have yet another winter with plenty of water to fuel strong growth.
The fig tree approves
It's a pity we don't have a couple of ducks. The wild ducks down at Bothin Marsh are happy as clams with the wet and muddy conditions. Our chickens, on the other hand, are less than pleased with the current conditions. They spend most of the day huddled inside the coop peering out from the door as if saying "What the heck is THIS?" They will occasionally rally and all run outside, look around for some forgotten treat and run back inside. 
Do you have food?
What do you mean you didn't bring any food!

It's wet. this sucks. Make it stop.
Sean's self constructed coop is staying nice and dry inside. Although the chickens would prefer to go be out in the run, they don't have too much to complain about. After all, it could be 30 degrees colder and we could be covered in snow! They are still laying 6 eggs a day and contributing immensely to our egg addiction.