Sunday, March 30, 2008

03/30/08 Mammoth Ski Trip

Has anyone ever gone to Mammoth and NOT taken this same photo (but with different people)?
Mammoth's official mascot: "Wooly" - betcha probably saw that one coming.
Bacon cheeseburger and chili fries in Eagle Lodge.
Best part: everything tastes EVEN better at 10,000 feet!
Yes, that IS my boyfriend. And no, you can't have him.
Besides, if you saw what happened after the picture, you just might change your mind. No broken bones.
So there's this run called "Lost in the Woods" and it totally didn't disappoint.

In case you were wondering, it's a boy mammoth.
We highly recommend the beds in Bishop at the Ramada!
And still no broken bones.

Test driving Harley Davidson's latest model at Schat's bakery in Bishop.
Pastries and testosterone. Who could ask for anything more?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

03/29/08 Death Valley Run - Titus Canyon

Larry Meyers organized a fantastic running trip to Titus Canyon in Death Valley. March is a nice time to go because it was not too hot, not too cold and there were even some beautiful wildflowers!

Thirteen miles uphill, then thirteen more downhill. As the run progressed deeper into the canyon, the walls got closer and closer together and formed spectacular rock formations. There is very little traffic, just a few adventure motorcyclists, and the canyon is one-way.

Halfway point.

After doing about fifteen miles, I decided to appreciate the rest of the canyon from the car. Whether on foot or not, the canyon was really scenic and very other-worldly!
Afterwards, we went to Scotty's Castle which is this magnificent place in the middle of absolutely nowhere and it didn't actually belong to Scotty at all.

Scotty had an appreciation for guns and music - a man after my own heart! Oh my Scotty, what a big organ you've got there!

Death Valley is a magical place. Titus Canyon and Scotty's Castle are just a small part of the area. Anywhere you go out there, it is sure to be an experience like no other!

Monday, March 17, 2008

03/15/08 Catalina Marathon

Me = Catalina Geek

Monday, March 17, 2008

Greetings from the beautiful island of Catalina ,
This has been my home since Friday night and will continue to be my second home until they allow the boats to leave again - hopefully sometime around Monday evening. Although the skies are clear, it is quite windy. As I know all too well, wind and ocean travel don't mix well. Getting over here Friday night was quite an adventure - did you see the movie "Titanic" - okay, not quite that much of an adventure, but close. After being tossed about like a rag in a washing machine on a boat, I kissed the dry ground and started off to find the new runner check in hotel. It used to be right by the port but this year, it was relocated to the Catalina Canyon Resort & Spa - sounds nice, right? Well, I have never before wished so hard for a building to descend itself down a hill. Trekking uphill at 8:30pm while carrying the laptop, and necessary race gear including a few quarts of Gatorade was not exactly pre-race resting. Naturally, I would not be staying at the Catalina Canyon Resort, so I trudged downhill, now carrying the additional "goody" bag, across the island to my hotel. Got a few hours of sleep until 4:00am, then it was off to the 5:00am ferry where 600 very well hydrated runners boarded for our ride to the 7:00am start in Two Harbors. Who knew "Titanic" had a sequel...?

Despite two turbulent boat rides in the 12 hours prior to the race, the Catalina Marathon on Saturday was terrific. I finished in four hours and 38 seconds, fourth in my age division. It was my slowest time ever, but I still had a lot of fun. To begin, I knew I wasn't in "race shape" having just run the Napa Valley Marathon two weeks ago. Also, it was windy. Really windy. I literally counted more swirls of dirt devils than runners. The wind made for some really fantastic clear views along the way, but alas still no buffalo sightings. For those of you keeping track, this is my fourth Catalina Marathon and I have NEVER once spotted a buffalo or a bison or anything of that sort while running out here - unless you count the pictures on the finisher shirts. Personally, I think it is all a conspiracy to make me keep coming back in hopes of seeing one.

Trying to tough it out sideways on the floor during the ferry to the start.

That tiny speck is the boat after it dropped us off in Two Harbors. Now the only way back is to run...

Ben Brown wins for the second year in a row. Julie Allen was first female in her marathon debut, and she later gave me my first ride in a golf cart to the post-race party. Results.

The highlight of the trip so far was seeing fellow Mountain Goat running friend Craig "Moose" Chambers finish in 10 hours and 58 minutes. Even though the actual finish "line" was long since packed away, there were a few of us stray Goats waiting for him. The race photographer stuck around and the person in charge of medals gave us a few to give to the "Moose Crew" when they arrived.
The Amazing Moose and the Cutest Froggie
The second best part of the trip was the "Segway Tour" available to guests of the Seaport Village Inn. I must mention how great this hotel is because when I told them my boat was cancelled, they allowed me to stay the extra night in my same room and only charged me a $35 cleaning fee. I've stayed here every time I've run the Catalina Marathon. And thanks to the hospitality of the owner Don, I will always stay here.

Guess what I want for Christmas?

This hotel also offered the third best part of the trip - the bathtub had hot tub jets! Oh, and let's not forget the elevator which was especially great after the race for getting to my third story room.
Waiting for the elevator right after the race.
Feeling much better now, thanks!

Fourth best part: MOJITO after the bath! Followed by a seafood salad at Original Jack's that was so good, I had to write a review. Dessert: Pistaccio Nut Ice Cream from Big Olaf's.

Well, it can't ALL be good food, right?

Although the entire trip may seem to have been problematic, and my race results were not exactly "racey" - I must say that this has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. There were times when I seriously considered sending for my belongings and permanently relocating to the quaint little town of Avalon. With my qualifications, I'm pretty sure I could quickly become gainfully employed as an ice-cream critic and part time running coach. When I'm not hard at work, I could spend time on the miniature golf course, ride the horses at the stable, go on long runs, learn about the birds at the Catalina Island Conservancy, and do my part for the environment by commuting on a Segway... Well, it sure beats getting back on the Titanic, Part Three!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

03/09/08 Trapeze Class!

Enjoying the view!

Climbing the rickety ladder to the itty-bitty suspended platform a gabillion feet above the ground was the easy part.
Much higher than it looks!

And I didn't mind when the trapeze bar was handed to me by one assistant because the other assistant placed his burly arms around my waist to keep me from falling.

Ready... Set... Hup!

As I stood there trying not to ponder the abilities of a human body to withstand a fall from this height, I fancied myself floating gracefully and twirling effortlessly from bar to bar, a modern day Georgina of the Jungle. Then came the commands from the teacher below, "Ready... Set..." And next he would soon say "Hup" - but I didn't want to hear the "hup" because "hup" meant burly arm would be gone, and it would be me, my death grip, a lot of momentum, a poor knowledge of physics but a keen understanding of what gravity does to a human brick. I didn't want to hear "hup" because I was ready to get down. I had been up the ladder, I had touched the bar, and I had visualized the dream. The need to live the dream had significantly subsided, but then came the "hup" and the dream, well it did not exactly become a reality... Sure, I was flying through the air, but forget that part about the greatest of ease. I thought oh my God, this is it, I am actually going to die, as I put my knees on the bar. Then came the next command, "Let go with your hands." To which I actually responded "I don't want to." The teacher repeated the command. I repeated my refusal. This went on for a while until I finally complied. I think I tasted my spinal fluid in the back of my throat.

Getting the "hang" of it! High as a kite!

But the best was yet to come. The command, "Let go" came from below and suddenly I rather liked it up there. In fact, I was quite comfortable. The rest of the class could go home now because my turn wasn't ever going to end, not if it meant falling to the net far, far below. And get this, I am supposed to fall on my back, leaving the staff plenty of time to unrig the entire set up as I descend to my death. So I decided to compromise: I would let go, but I was going to keep an eye on the net to make sure it stayed in place during my descent. Yep, face first, belly flop. And then, the worst drymouth ever, like worse than your worst morning after tequilla in TJ cotton mouth. But I survived. And I actually got the hang of it, pun intended. In fact, I even loved it!

I've never gripped a man this hard before!

The teacher must have confused me for some other student because he told me to get ready to learn how to "return to the bar." Now I've been to plenty of bars, and I'm always ready to go back, at least to the ones that will still have me... but this was different. I had leave my trapeze bar, cling to the "catcher" for one full swing, then let go of him while spinning around in the air to return to the first trapeze bar where I started. Everything was going as planned until the spin, that part where I'm no longer holding the catcher or the bar. And this is where my keen understanding of gravity kicked in - if I'm not holding anything, I just knew I'm going to fall - I'm smart like that - which is exactly what happened.
The human brick in action!

Forty five dollars, ninety minutes, and savoring the taste of internal organs while flying through the air... The most thrilling rush ever!!! I can not wait to go back to Richie's Flying Trapeze School in Woodland Hills!
Perfect dismount!

Lookout Barnum & Bailey - make room for Brunson!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

03/08/08 Great Urban Race Los Angeles

Crazy clues, fun costumes, Hollywood, subways, Dodger Stadium, free pizza (free does not necessarily mean good), handstands, puzzles,, downtown Los Angeles, four leaf clovers, Laurel & Hardy, red hot chili pepper (the kind you eat, not the band), running around (on a warm day) asking Los Angelenos for directions, and Muddlebugging across the finish line. That about sums up the experience Lorenzo, Lisa, Martin and I had at the Los Angeles version of Great Urban Race! Lorenzo and I were "Team Run ZoLa Run" and we finished 28th out of 202 teams with a time of 3 hours and 31 minutes. It probably would've been faster if I hadn't been the one navigating - we did LOTS of running! Lisa and Martin were "Team What the Fox?" and they kept us smiling as we tried to keep up with their cute little tails. It was silly and fun and a lot of work!