Saturday, August 30, 2008

Volcano Road Trip

Last weekend Kevin and I took a five day trip down to Lassen Volcano National Park and Crater Lake National Park for some road tripping, sightseeing and camping. We had an amazing time. It was relaxing and fun and took me completely away from the day to day here which I was really ready for.

Lassen Volcano is very pretty but unless you happen to be in the area or are trying to go to all the national parks like we are I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to see it. This is Lassen Peak which erupted back in 1915 and Kevin who has a mild temper and I have yet to see erupt.

The coolest part of the park is what greets you at the end of this trail.It also wins for best trail name ever. This trail leads you to a geothermal area where you get to see bubbling mud pots and large steam vents that roar like engines. It is also a place of amazingly bad stink. Epic stink. Picture if you will 100 elderly women in a hot windowless room getting old-fashioned home perms while simultaneously boiling 10,000 eggs. Bumpass Hell smells something like that. I am blessed/cursed with a good sniffer so the smell was starting to make me sick. Kevin, being the chivalrous and observant fellow that he is, kindly offered me his bandanna to hold over my mouth. I was embarrassed to be such a Polly Prissypants but you would have understood if you smelled this mighty stink.

We camped that night and I got to use my very first bear box. Bear Box. Ur doin it wrong!

On the way to Crater Lake we made a stop at Lava Beds National Monument in the middle of nowhere California. I had no idea what to expect but this place is filled with lava tubes to hike through and explore. We were short on time so we only got to go down into two of them but they were a lot of fun. No bats though. Dang. Here I am portraying the lava tube goddess emerging from the end of the tube. Or something . . .

I hadn't been to Crater Lake in 16 years and it was still as stunning as I remember it being. This was Kevin's first trip and he was just as blown away by the beauty of the lake as I was. This time we got to hike down the lake and take the boat tour and get to see the lake in an entirely different light than just doing the rim drive. Plus we got some additional geological information that we might otherwise have missed. If you have never been here you absolutely need to go. This place is amazing and the lake is the most amazing shade of blue you will ever see.

Two nights camping under the a beautiful star filled sky, eating all the classic camping foods (SPAM, Jiffy Pop, S'mores, PBR) while sitting around a campfire. It has been far too long since I camped and can't let that happen again.

Next time on Devil's Starchy Fingers: We have perfected the S'more! Stay tuned for our culinary revelation!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Fabulous speech. He did the dems and the American people proud. I think I will have more victory donkey cookies to bake in November!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That's an Order

Saw this street sign on our road trip to Lassen Volcano and Crater Lake last weekend and briefly contemplated stealing it for Fishergirl. A picture will have to suffice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Change of Plans

After what felt like a never-ending series of crappy runs I have decided to drop out of the Maui Half-Marathon next month. I couldn't put together a solid long run and even my short ones were frequently tougher than they should be. I just didn't have enough of a base running fitness when I started focused training on July 1st. Since I didn't have a strong base I also don't feel that 10 weeks would have been enough time for me to get ready. Sure, I could have walked sections of the course but I have already been there and done that and I want my next half to be something I can run the entire way and improve my time. This wasn't going to be that race.

Once I made the decision after about two interminable miles into what was supposed to be a 10-miler I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Giving myself permission to quit was such a relief. I was pushing myself for something I wasn't ready for. Distance running is very mental and if your head isn't in the game then nothing good can happen. I will take these next few months and focus on getting faster and stronger and when I am ready to tackle another half-marathon I will give it the proper three to four months that I should. Then I can leave my 12:01 pace in the dust.

So instead of getting up at 4:30 a.m. to be at the starting line at 5:30 a.m. , running 13.1 miles through an area that means "merciless sun" in Hawaiian, Kevin and I will be sleeping in and maybe going down to the finish line to cheer on the marathoners and half-marathoners with breakfast Pina Coladas in hand.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Faster, Higher, Sleepier

I love the Olympics. It captures my imagination every time. How can you not be drawn into the drama and the glory? Watching people who have worked and trained their entire lives for a chance to not only be the best but a chance just to compete on this world stage is inspiring and moving. However, can we have a mid-way one day Olympic hiatus? I haven't watched this much TV in years and everybody at work is dragging from staying up too late to watch the events. Forget competing; just watching the games is exhausting.

A few musing about the games so far.

  • Bob Costas should host every athletic event ever. I love, love, LOVE me some Bob Costas! For that matter he can deliver me all my news and entertainment reporting. When Bud Selig steps down he really should be commissioner of baseball. He is hand down the most intelligent, witty, erudite and cute journalist of all time. He should get a medal for being him.
  • Why do the Eastern European gymnasts continue to wear loads of blue eyeshadow? It is as if they are stuck in the 1970's. I bet when their hair isn't pulled back for competition they wear it feathered.
  • No one probably saw Shalane Flanagan win the bronze in the 10K (because it was on at 2:00 a.m.; shame on you NBC) but her unbridled joy at winning a third place is one of my Olympic highlights so far. So many would have been disappointed with a third place showing but she looked like the happiest woman on the planet.
  • Michael Phelps. Enough said.
  • Paula Radcliffe gutting out her marathon finish this evening even though she was clearly struggling with an injury that probably should have kept her out of the race. The world record holder (and 4 of the top 5 of all time) put everything she had into just completing this race. I remember watching her in Athens and watching her fall apart there from illness and injury and to watch her dig deep and find the strength to finish is inspiring.
  • Trampoline is an Olympic sport. Who knew?
  • Would it kill NBC to mix up the primetime coverage a little? There are other sports than swimming, diving, beach volleyball and gymnastics. Part of the fun of the games is to watch sports you might not otherwise get to see and to see athletes other than US athletes. Where is all the fencing, handball, rowing, kayaking and shooting coverage? Would 10 minutes in prime time hurt that much?

Off to bed to rest up for more days of television viewing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Second Cousin, Once Removed

This is Daisy the pig and she was the hit of the family reunion on Saturday. Let the jokes start in 3 . . .2 . . . 1. . .

Friday, August 8, 2008

Clover Savant

How many four leaf clovers have you found in your life? Me? Zero. So let me tell you a little story.

I was at my sister's house Thursday night to pick up items for our work scavenger hunt and mentioned that we still needed a four leaf clover. I knew she had really good luck finding some in the past so I assumed she would have one laying around. "Oh no," she said casually, "I just give those away". She might not have had any laying around the house but she said "come on" and I followed her to the front yard. She was going to find one by looking in the grass and clover in the yard. I thought to myself "yeah, this will never work. You don't just FIND four leaf clovers that easily". Not even two minutes later she bends down and picks a perfect four-leaf clover. Like it was nothing; something you do every day. I was speechless, my mouth must have dropped open and Angie simply smiles and declares: "I am a clover savant."

Weekly Training: Weeks Five and Six

Yikes! The Maui Half-Marathon is about five weeks away and my training frankly sucks. I am lumping the two weeks together because I really did pretty much next to nothing this week because of laziness, baseball games, and baking for the family reunion tomorrow. Excuses, excuses.

Monday: 3 mile easy run.
Wednesday: 5 mile run with 1/2 mile speed intervals. Felt great! Even with the slow warm-up and recovery speeds I ran this only about 3 seconds per mile more than I ran the Torchlight on Saturday. Maybe Torchlight was a bit of an off day after all. I could have kept going but I knew I was adding miles to my long run on Saturday and didn't want to push it too much.
Friday: 3 mile easy run.
Saturday: Ummmm... what do you call this? It was an 8:41 mile run/walk sort of thing. I meant to do nine but that just wasn't going to happen. I could only go 2 miles before I had to stop and take a walk break. I kept on going this way until my turn around point at 4:25 miles. I felt like crap. I had no energy. None. Drained. I had to keep going because I did an out and back course and had no other way to get home. I did more run/walk on the way home and my pokey time gave me lots of time to think about why this run was so tough. It occurred to me that I started running at 3:00 and all I had had to eat that day was a small bowl of cereal, piece of peanut butter toast and a handful of blueberries. I basically had the same thing for dinner the night before and I didn't have any lunch other than popcorn the day before. Hi, dumb ass - you didn't fuel!!!! I didn't feel hungry at all so it never occurred to me that I needed to eat more. Boy did I learn my lesson. I did take a gel during the run but it definitely wasn't enough.

After the "run" I was riding the elevator up to my apartment and started to feel like I was going to pass out right there. Started to see the spots around my head and felt things get a little fuzzy. I got inside as quick as possible, grabbed a juice and threw myself on the couch. Ten minutes later I ate some peanut butter toast, almost passed out again in the shower and only felt better when I downed the Gatorade Kevin insisted I get on the way to the ballpark. Gatorade is wonderful stuff. Electrolytes - it's what plants crave!

This week was pretty useless.
Sunday: 10K Volkssmarch in Roslyn. Does a six mile walk count as cross-training? It does for me this week.
Thursday: 3 mile easy run.
Yep. That is it. This slackerdom will not lead to a PR in Maui if I don't get cracking.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Torchlight Run Race Report

Last Saturday night was one of my very favorite races of the year; the Seafair Torchlight Run. It is an 8k that takes you up on the viaduct and then down through the throngs of people waiting for the Torchlight Parade on 4th Ave in downtown Seattle. Usually it is my brother, our friend Todd and I who run but this year my brother was sidelined with an Achilles' sprain so he wasn't able to join us. Kevin chose to run it this year so we still had a good trio to enjoy the race.

From the start in front of Qwest field you head out and immediately head up the viaduct onramp.

It is always hot on the viaduct at that time of day. Even though it was cooler than it had been at other races in the past (low 70's I would guess) the sun coming down on you on the viaduct, combined with the muggy air and the reflective road surface made for a warmer than I like first 1.5 miles. The pace felt good at this point. I didn't think I would PR but I didn't think I would get picked up by the sag wagon either. Going through the Battery Street tunnel I was thankful for the fans they had in the roof. That is when I started to feel my left foot go numb. I don't know if it affects my pace but it is annoying and a little worrisome. I am getting it checked out on Tuesday.

Rounding the corner at the Hostess Bakery smells good during the St. Patrick's Day Dash but kind of made me want to hurl on a warm summer evening. I had to take a walk break for about three blocks right before the turn onto 4th Ave. I was drained and to be honest the foot was bothering me a little. I started running again because I didn't want to walk in front of the thousands of people along the parade route. It was a struggle this year though. I kept going and thought I could run the whole way until I encountered the hill that I swear the city must have installed since last year. I have no recollection of there being any sort of hill heading south on 4th. Where did it come from? Who put it there? Could I slap them? Even though the appeal of running this race is you feel like you can't take walk breaks on the parade route because you don't want to embarass yourself in front of 250,000 people . . .I walked. No shame, didn't care, legs hurting, sluggish, fuck it.
After the crest of the hill (alright, it was more of a bump) I picked it up and started running and, whoo-hoo the happy downhill that I remember! The pace was great for the last mile. Garmin shows a 9:39 pace for the last mile and I believe it. I had nothing left at the finish. In all the races I have run none of my friends has ever seen me finish to know that even though I am slow I have a pretty good kick. Todd happened to be watching this time and I could not kick. I tried to speed up but my legs would absolutely not go any faster. I had nothing left in the tank at this point.

I couldn't rely on Garmin for an accurate time because it lost connection in the tunnel. The official results have me finishing in 53:30 which is a 10:42 pace. Not as good as 2006 but better than last year. I was really disappointed in this result. I truly felt like I was going faster than that and gave it all I had but apparently all I had wasn't so much this time.

Because the race is usually run on a very hot day at the hottest time of day the race directors hire a Seattle Fire Department truck to run misters for people to walk through and cool down. We are far too excited by the prospect of misters. It is Todd's favorite part of the race. Todd is also a sadist. Do you know how long it took him to take this picture while he "figured out how the camera worked"?
I didn't see any great costumes during the race this year but afterward I did get to see a guy wearing nothing but running shoes and a pair of shorts that were designed to look like Nemo; tail sticking out the back, head sticking out the front. Disturbing yet creative.
While this year's race won't go down as one of my better times we had a really good time as usual. Can't wait till next year.