Thursday, September 28, 2006

Live at the Improv

5:30 am and I feel unusually rested.......up and out of bed coffee already brewed (thanks T) I'm surprised at how dark it is. I have no plan....I need a plan.....too late to catch Cheryl's spin class ( Cheryl was the sweeper during the practice tri and helped me with my flat, remember?)
Still dark at 6pm...more searching the Y for a tri/masters swim (I washed and blow dried my hair women of color out there understand) on with the running shoes and out the door . Walking down the block until I decide on a route.

I decide to head towards the Berkeley Marina. I make my way to the bicycle bridge that crosses HWY 80......past Seabreeze market and over to the shorline nature center.....when nature calls.....I luck out here as the nature center has well lit facilities with flush toilets.'s the litte things that make me happy......... then onto the pier near Skates....the visibility out on the bay is poor but I can see a small boat cruising along off in the distance.
I spot another runner and she gives me a thumbs up as we pass eachother in silence on the foggy on my lips. On the turn around I notice a few men on the pier carrying fishing poles ...what on earth do they catch I wonder but don't ask...

I cut across the new portion of the bay trail then over to Gilman and it's the homestretch. This is the first "early" longish run before work in sometime, keep it up kid!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I recently posted an ad on craigs list looking for training partners. I've recieved a few responses but nothing has materialized yet. It's occured to me recently that finding friends and more importantly maintaining friendships in your 40s is alot like dating...people seem nice, interested and you may even have a great time together initially but before long things "cool off" and your left wondering what happened?

All I know is that I'm engaging in activities I like alot, I'm being proactive and instead of reverting to my "fuck it" way of thinking I will be patient, continue to train and put myself out there.....just not all out there you know what I mean?

Like I said, I recieved a few responses from local women, some with tri experience and some just wanting to train with other active folks. So far one woman was a "no show" or rather didn't call back when she said she would and then slipped me an e-mail the next day stating that she was sick...hence the no call.....ok whatever I'm just some anonymous on-line contact....why would she need to extend me the courtesy of a call letting me know she wouldn't make it, right?
(truth be told I was slightly annoyed) Heard from a couple others and I have replied (promptly) and am waiting for follow-up.

Seems I'm always in the position of "doing all the work".....I often put forth quite a bit of energy early on in the relationship and am left feeling a bit short changed in the end.

On a more positive note , I hit the pool at the Y yesterday morning....7:30 am....early for me....I like being back at the Y !

Over the weekend I went to IKEA and bought some more baskets for the storage wall we purchased awhile back. A nice 12x12 basket costs I've been slowly adding to my collection.......everything is really coming together and I'm feeling all kinds of better about the living its been a veritable dumping ground...for like the past 6 months.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Yeah, I'm a Bonehead!

I've been too embarrassed to post about what happened last week at Briones, but enough time has passed that I feel I can spill the beans. I can only think of a few things worse then the horror one experiences when you realize that you've lost your keys a remote place.

Yep, that's right, while up on the ridge somewhere between the first and second GU, I failed to clip in my key ( uhuh, yeah you know that clippy thing inside your hydration pack, it's there for a reason!!!) and I lost it on the trail. I realized this at approximately 11:30 am, as I approached my car and in utter disbelief (Though, I don't know why considering my history with keys) I ran back to the trailhead and searched in vain for about a 1/4 mile. I asked every hiker/biker I came across to keep an eye out, I heard lot's of "oh man, what a drag" and "that happened to me before...bummer!" The kiosk attendant was less empathetic and said "yeah, someone will turn it in, in a few weeks!! than laughed when I asked him if I could use his phone...."if you can find the right spot you might get a signal" I was able to leave a message at home and then I stood there like an idiot....problem solving abilities nowhere insight.... not sure what to do next.

My phone and money were in the car on the side of Bear Creek Rd. in front of the park entrance (which is about 4 miles off San Pablo Damn Rd) I went back to my car crossed the street and stuck my thumb out. A couple from Danville who were leaving the park gave me a lift to the Orinda Shell station and they insisted on giving me $5.00 dollars to get something to drink. I kept saying "No, really it's okay. My husband will be here soon" But they wouldn't take no for an answer. People Rock I tell Ya!!

It took awhile to get ahold of T. When I finally did I asked him to bring my mountain bike so I could return to the trail for another look. It took even longer getting ahold of roadside assistance. The policy at AAA is "no key no tow"....the only exception being unless you can prove that you are unable to obtain a key. It was 1pm on a Sunday in Orinda....and apparently know one locks themselves out or loses their key in Orinda because they don't have a locksmith. Then there was a lot confusion regarding my whereabouts. I was in front of Briones Staging Area, 4 miles off of Camino Pablo....unknown to me at the time Camino Pablo turns into San Pablo Damn Rd at the Bear Creek Intersection.

It took longer that it should have for T to find me and when he finally did arrive it was going on 2 pm. I was growing even more appreciative of that $5.00!! We drove back to the car, luckily I was parked in the shade where T would wait next to the Element and I headed back to trail on my bike to see if I had any luck on the other end of the trail....though I'm pretty sure the key fell out when I GU'd high up on the was getting hot and I stopped looking after 1/2 an hour confident that the tow truck would be arriving soon.....little did I know that we were in for a 4 plus hour wait!

We waited and waited and waited. T needed gas and in our haste to get back to my stranded vehicle he forgot to gas up at the station where he picked me up. I told him to drive back into town get gas and try to call again (as we had no signal either) while I waited for the tow....apparently my problem solving abilities were returning.
Another 30, 40 minutes went by and no tow truck or T! T finally pulled up and had decided to get a carwash at the gas station while he was there!

When he pulled up I was relieved because you know by this time I was really agitated. The idea of leaving the car was completely unacceptable...broken glass in the same spot we were parked, signs of an obvious break-in.
T must've spoke with every AAA roadside service agent that was working that day, each giving a different storey, one said the driver was lost, another said they didn't know which tow service to dispatch, and then the another said they were on their way...would be there soon. We hoped the later was true.

Around 4 pm a tow truck arrived, however he pulled over and parked far away. The driver was talking to someone and didn't step out of his vehicle for several minutes. Turns out he wasn't going to tow us, he had missed his turn and it was purely accidental that he happened along. He proceeded to recite the "no key no tow policy" There was no way in hell that driver was not taking us and it was T being the diplomat that he is that convinced the driver to tow us back to Berkeley. Because of the numerous calls T had made he was able to convince the powers that be that we were in fact the owners of the vehicle, that we had made a reasonable effort in obtaining a locksmith and we should NOT be charged the $120.00 tow fee. The tow guy got us into the car and I was able to retrieve my belongings. Once we arrived back home he asked for ID, license and registration, proof of insurance. 10 minutes later he came back and asked for our phone number.....this guy was beyond thorough!!!

So, what started out as a pleasant 2 hour run turned into an all day ordeal. The whole day was shot. By the time we got home it was after 4 pm! The funny thing was we had tickets for Bonnie Rait and Keb Mo that night and I wasn't really feeling up to it by the time we got home. But there was no backing out. A couple of big-ass beers, Bonnie and Keb singing the blues I was in good company.

Monday was spent getting duplicates made (you may have wondered why their wasn't one already, the Element is a pre-owned vehicle and it came with only one key....I know I know I know I should've made one earlier, I told ya I was embarrassed!!!!) I won't even say how much it cost to replace that key................ and yes, we sprung for a spare. Needless to say I was extra careful to clip in my key for this morning 's run.

Today I discovered East Bay National Trail. After a fair amount of climbing under a canopied firetrail, things leveled off ...a bit I headed into the open full on sun around 10 am. I saw a few runners...not too many going my direction as they no doubt got an earlier start....geez by the time I got my act together at home I didn't get to the trailhead until after 9:30.

As I mentioned things leveled off ....and as they say "what goes up must come down". I practiced more backward descents and was a bit disappointed to arrive at the end of the trail within 40 minutes. Per usual for me, I have no idea how far I went, I wanted a trail with hills and that's what I got. The temps were rising and I was a little worried about the climb back up but it wasn't so bad, an occasional breeze would take the edge off and before I knew I was back to my car. Total run time 1.25 hrs

I drove back towards Skyline Blvd. and decided that I had some energy left for a bit more running. I noticed a couple of people, an adult male and a younger girl stepping off the trail and the guy was shaking the dust off his shoes, it looked like they had been running.

I parked on the side of the rode and found another sweet canopied trail....this one was a mostly level, windy single track. I came across several Skyline Cross Country kids and would scoot to the right when packs of three would zoom by. One kid must've been new to running and attempted to pass on MY right....I was startled and not-a-little-annoyed and let him by on the left side...remember this is a single track trail ....with hikers and other runners coming from the opposite direction.......I don't know what he was thinking trying to pass on my right. I let him pass me from the left but the kid just ran directly in front of me. I thought, "hmm...ok I'll hang out in his draft for awhile and if he doesn't pick up his pace I'll demonstrate the proper way to pass." Impatience got the best of me and I made my move and got a little distance from him when more kids coming from the opposite direction came towards me. I moved over to the right as far as I could....and I'll be damned if that little turd didn't pass me again....the thing was he looked like he was really struggling....just shuffling along. It's was that look I'd learned about from reading race strategies, reading your opponents body language really can give you an edge. I picked things up again got around him and made for a strong finish to the end. Total run time 40 mins.

So humor me a little. I don't know how long that kid had been on that trail, he looked pretty tired and probably outran my old ass self threefold....still I'm not gonna lie and say that I didn't get a little satisfaction re-taking the lead. Give it up for the old chick!


I am beyond frustrated with my daughter at the moment. Her enthusiasm for swimming has waned and it is SOOOOO disappointing. It appears that my interest in it was the beginning of the end for her. Last time I had to drag her there and she wouldn't even go in. She's into bike riding more now and I should be happy with that but right now I want and need to swim and T is at work.

Let the pre-teen rebellion begin!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's Official

I'm addicted to the ipod. I went totally mental looking for it this had slipped off the trunk I place my running junk on ....the wave of relief that I felt once I found it was no less satisfying than any junkie jonesing and then scoring!!!.....I couldn't fathom the idea of a long run without it. How sad is that?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hurricane Christine

I hadn't been running here in awhile. After 2 loops I'm usually pooped.
Not today, I could of kept going.....wretched time restraints prevented me from going longer....
Oh well a little something is always better than nothing. I think I tend to forget that if there's not time for a longer workout that even 20 minutes is keeping me consistent.....this level of fitness I'm striving towards is an accumulative thing and consistency is key.

I've been feeling a tad bit unsteady lately, a barrage of bullshit challenges one after another has rocked my reserve a bit ...when that happens I clean house. It's a way to get focused and it calms me down. T was a big help this week and I'd be remiss to overlook his ability to give me shelter from the storm so to speak....the self induced storm I can conjure up when I feel overwhelmed.

The clouds have parted, I see the blue on the horizon.
It's all going to be ok.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Riding and Running

Got together with Arthur and Emily for a long ride this weekend...35 miles (3.5 hours in the saddle!), my longest ride to date. It wasn't the nicest day for a ride, gray with poor visibility. Starting my period the day before didn't help much. Let's just say it wasn't the most comfortable ride of my life. But so as not to be a total bitch bucket, there were some nice moments, the fast descents, feeling strong on the hills despite being tired...

We took Grizzly Peak to Redwood Regional Park. A detour on Pinhurst (will be in place through November) but a good portion of it was accessible from the south side. From there we headed over to Moraga, Orinda and up the backside of Tilden.

I just saw the film Prefontaine this weekend and really liked it, the soundtrack rocked! Man what an athlete! It's not unusual for me to watch a movie a couple of times in a row if I really like it. I watched a little of it again this morning while getting ready to run. My computer has been in the shop since Saturday and I needed help getting motivated. A "swift"
(ipod induced) 40 minute run in the surrounding neighborhood and back home taking time to stretch. I love me some Black-Eyed Peas in the morning.

My hair cut turned out pretty good but I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing a ponytail tomorrow. Yes, it's pretty and looks nice but it's highly unlikely that I'm going to take the time to blowdry, press and curl my hair everyday to achieve the look.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Seasons Change

God I feel like rigamortis has set in!! I'm so stiff and sore....probably from the lack of yoga. I haven't run since last Saturday...this just occurred to me today. The weekend seemed pretty busy, I took Monday off to chill....same on Tuesday...went for a short swim and bike ride on wed.
Yesterday when I arrived at the pool for a lunchtime was closed! New fall schedule, I'll have to get there before 1pm....which means getting to work earlier....aaaarg!
I re-opened my YMCA membership and so I'll have access to their indoor pool, yoga and other classes which will make life more convenient.

M appears to be settling into her new routine, she seems to have gotten over any concerns regarding getting "cheated" by having to be in a 4th/5th combined class. Her teacher seems to have the right combination of warmth and smarts.
I'm not exactly sure how the teacher divides her time between the two grades, but M assures me that the 5th graders have the sweeter set-up.....which has me wondering.....I have a few questions for back to school night.

Oh yeah, I'm getting my hair cut today. Taking up to 3 inches off, shooting for a shorter more manageble "bob" style, one that will require less blow drying time, but long enough for the I-don't-have-time -to-do-anything-else-ponytail. I have my hair chemically relaxed and now that I'm graying more and more around my hairline, it's way noticeable when I strutt the ponytail...needless to say relaxing and dyeing on top of swimming is wreaking havoc on my already damaged hair.

Some days I just want to go all butch and shave my head!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Still Up and Running

My blog is one year old this month. This time last year I was trying to figure what the hell a "url" was and I signed on with blogger and the rbf. Susie was my second commenter...the first being spam...which Susie explained there was a setting that would limit that from happening.
Slowly one comment turned into two, than a few more...I was thrilled the first time someone from another country dropped by and even moreso when
Mia, a local gal gave MUCH encouragement and support as I ventured into the unknown.
Anne from so. cal has on more than one occasion has shown extreme kindness and has encouraged me to keep at this writing thing.
Loubob and Jeff have always seemed so grounded and their work ethic spur me on to be better....dig deeper.

And soooooooo many others, runners, triathletes, ultrarunners all so inspiring and no doubt unaware of the ripple effect they have caused.

I remember feeling rejected when my comments went unreturned . I'd take it personally. I just assumed that it was a two way street ya know?
I think I came here looking for something....something outside myself...I needed the support and encouragement of ...veritable strangers.... as I embarked on this journey towards fitness and a real lifestyle change.
Not having "real" people in my life that were looking for the same thing. True I have a great husband...who has always been supportive in just about anything I've shown an interest, still I needed information, the kind that comes from experience and I turned to this new community....perhaps at times when I should of been looking inward instead of out. I recall feeling especially....vulnerable?.... after baring my soul in some dark revealing way and then seeing
"0 comments", I started wondering if I was expecting too much or if people just thought I was weird. And then I read this:

Rejection can be killing. It kills faster and more effectively when the victim is already lacking in some vital way.

Patti Austin

When I first got here I was thirsty, hell dehydrated is more like it. Parched and dried out, I searched for wisdom, strength and knowledge. I drank and drank and drank. Always the taker .

Along the way though, something happened and I started giving back. I started to realize that there are other people just like me, just starting out whether it be their first foot race or struggle with swimming. That I had been there and lived to tell the tale....not always cheerfully or with much humor! Yet, I was able to relate and offer a helpful word or two.

Coming to this place and taking the time to record this journey has been as much apart of the transformation as any physical changes I've made.
From a tired middle-aged wife and mom, working at a lack-luster job to a more vibrant happier healthier me. I still need to change jobs...but the difference now is I believe I can....before I always thought "but what can I do?, I lack the training, education....." Thoughts of "I can't" no longer hold the same weight and more often I'm thinking "Why not?"

Excuses no longer holding the same weight. I've raised the bar on myself. That's been the best change so far. I'm a long way off from being the woman I want to be but I'm moving in the right direction.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day Weekend

Saturday Brandy and I went to Briones . Parking on the road to avoid the $5.00 park entrance fee we hiked in a little ways and were greeted by a friendly kiosk attendant who kindly waived the $2.00 dog entrance fee. I wanted a longish trail where I could run and hike and the attendant suggested Briones Crest Trail, a 10-12 mile loop.

We started on Abrigo trail for close to a mile then turned left on Santos. Santos then became Briones Crest Trail. This would be the longest stretch of trail. I was able to take a few pictures with my camera phone...though you'll most likely never see them as I don't know how to get them out of there. The weather was mild and despite being out in the open most of the time the strong breeze's and occasional shade made for a comfortable run/hike.

Taking Brandy's cue we would walk when she appeared tired. She let's me know this in a number of ways. First she'll walk directly in front of me, as though she's trying to slow me down and me, not picking up on her cue right away...would nudged her along or scoot around her.

Whenever I would stop to give her water and she'd lie on her belly lapping the water from my cupped hand. I should get a sierra cup or something similar and lightweight to attach to her harness....Other times she would just plop down in the middle of the trail and we'd rest for awhile longer. I'll be honest I had regrets at times bringing her but it was good practice for me stopping and starting.

A few times we got off the main trail (sidetrips I call them) and would backtrack to the main trail....which is why I'm convinced we covered more than 10 miles.

I had three water bottles (2) in my waist pack and one in the handheld. When the handheld was empty I attached it to Brandy's harness. Sometime later I needed to shed a layer, so I tied my singlet onto her too, Brandy was proving to be a decent sherpa!

I should mention's official...I'm hooked on the ipod...never thought it would happen...but it's true...the long runs are great in and of themselves but I must admit the right tunes really enhance the whole experience. Funny thing too, music that I wouldn't necessarily regard as "running music" or even music
I 'd normally listen too have proven to be perfect trail companions. Here's a sampling of what I'm listening to...note, I've only downloaded cd's and then hit "songs" and they are played randomly...Black Eyed peas, Britney Spears...that's right...okay before I lose any credibility...just try it before you knock it...Santana, Earth Wind and Fire, Jill Scott and David Bryn...

Briones Crest Trail intersects with Seaborg which leads to Bear Creek....where hot tired dogs....and their people ... can cool off. Brandy wasted no time submerging herself in the creek drinking at the same time. I let her hang out until she appeared ready to go and she darted up ahead back to the kiosk. The attendant offered a dog biscuit but she, I think like anyone (anyting?)who's come off a hard trek, didn't have an appetite. Before heading out of the park, we had one more drink of water at the fountain.

On the way home I stopped at the grocery store and picked up few more ingredients for the lasagna I wanted to make. I tried something different and for the last layer I used eggplant, red bell pepper and fresh basil. It turned out really good. My friend W came over for dinner later and it was good catching up with her, as we hadn't seen eachother in quite awhile.

Sunday I went on hike with the Sierra Club. You might recall, my confusion with finding the entrance of Wildcat where dogs are allowed...I'd gotten there many times on foot but I wasn't sure how to get to Alvarado Staging Area by car. The leader organized a 6 hour hike covering Wildcat Canyon and Tilden. We met @8:45 at N. Berkeley BART and then carpooled to the trail head.

I met some nice people, quite a few had hiked together before and I got the scoop on some of the organized car camping and backpacking trips.

The entrance turns out to be super easy to get easy that I didn't even get lost on the eway home...(I took my car and the woman that rode with me rode back with someone cuz I didn't go straight home afterwards)....anyways, it was really easy to find and I will take Brandy there sometime....just not today.!!

My legs and feet are tired and yesterdays thought of a bike ride this morning have taken a back seat to bulky breakfast burritos and bad TV!!! The house is in pretty good shape and there's plenty of lasagna left over for when T and M get home this afternoon.

In honor of Labor Day, I think I'll just chill!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Moments of Glory

There was a point during the race last Sunday, where everything felt amazing. The legs, the breathing, the cadence all synthesized and I felt like the strongest me ever.

It's taken a few days for me to appreciate this. Following a race, I often focus on what went wrong, what wasn't working. It's often several days later when I recall those moments where all is right and I feel for however brief as though I am flying.

And it's not long after, that I begin to run out of steam and my feet touch the earth once more and I am not so strong, not so fierce. But tempered and spent and tired and giddy and a little dehydrated most likely...

And then I'm sore and I take special care to stretch and hydrate, eat well and sleep. All because of this race, and hopefully future races. I want to keep this feeling. I want to remember why I do what I do.