Monday, June 25, 2012

Race Recap: The Inaugural Bald Peak Half Marathon

What can I say about the Inaugural Bald Peak Half Marathon? 

I mean, other than "Ow!  OW!  Make it stop!  MAKE IT STOP!!!"

Ah the Bald Peak Half.  We (Jules and I) knew when we signed up that it would be tough, and we knew when we drove out to the course a couple of months before the race that it would be really tough, and we knew when we drove to the course the morning of the race and it was raining that it would be really, really tough.

It turned out to be insanely tough.

And also beautiful and challenging and filled with interesting wildlife.  With amazing course support and excellent company throughout.  Except for maybe that last mile where if I had let Jules get too close she probably would've smacked me for being too perky.  But more on that later.

The Bald Peak Half was held out in rural Hillsboro.  The start was at Hagg's Tree Farm, so with a total of 93 finishers there was plenty of parking.  With 93 finishers, the race director pretty much knew all of us by name.  We had told him the night before at packet pickup that we would probably be DFL.  He laughed and said "oh, the other people in here just said that too!"  We weren't kidding and we told him so, but then waiting for the race to start I spotted two ladies in the bunch and just knew by the backpack one of them was wearing that there was now a distinct possibility that we would be next to DFL. 

Here is the elevation gain from my Garmin.  (Hopefully it shows up big enough.)  The first two miles were straight.  Up.  Hill.  I had to pause at the first mile marker for a minute just because my legs refused to move forward for one second longer.  From there until about mile five, we'd have a smidge of downhill and then more uphill.  In a lot of places, more sharp uphill.  The most familiar refrain of the day was "Are you kidding me??"  Then ironically we hit a stretch of downhill that was so steep we couldn't comfortably run down it.  There was a lot more gravel road than we were expecting and because it was/had been raining the footing wasn't too sure.  Plus our quads raised numerous objections. 

You'll notice there's really only one stretch of anything resembling flat road between about mile 11 and mile 12.5.  At which point the course went STRAIGHT UP.  We had to stop about every 20 feet to rest, it was that brutal.  At least 300 feet of elevation gain in a very short stretch.  I think overall we ran maybe three miles worth of downhill out of the whole 13.1 mile course.  We finished in 4:03 and change.  Oh, and those two ladies I saw at the start?  They finished around 5:30.  The guy who finished first?  A six minute mile average.  Eeep!

Despite the course being an exercise in diabolicality (is so a word!), and my not being prepared for it and Jules having a wicked head cold, it was a great race.  Even with some low clouds and the rain it is very beautiful out there.  We saw some great houses plus a camel, llamas, alpaca, very vocal cows and sheeps, and one memorable piece of roadkill that I'm still not sure what it was. 

Best of all, the course support was amazing.  There were five aid stations along the course and although a couple of those were no longer being manned by the time we reached them they were still well stocked with water, Heed, gummy bears and gummy fruits.   The volunteers were extremely encouraging and such good sports to still be out there for us in the rain.  In many spots the race director was out to check on the course and probably on us as well.  There was even a huge thing of the promised pancakes and bacon for us -- still warm!! -- and water and gatorade. 

The bling was really nice too.  Oh, and I almost forgot:  flush toilets with hot and cold running water at the start.  Although there was a snafu with the honey bucket people so no potties out on the course.  But hey, plenty of trees and bushes so they almost weren't missed. 

So, would I do this race again?   I think I would.  I'd really like to be in shape for it though.  While I'd still walk a lot of those sharp, steep hills there were plenty that with proper conditioning I could have run, and the downhill would've been easier if my ass hadn't been shredded.  I also wish I'd had more room for pancakes and bacon (even if it was turkey bacon) but I lost my appetite on that glute killing hill at the end.

the CilleyGirl

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I am alive. (Kind of.)

Second busiest season of the year at the office for me, so I may be MIA for a couple of weeks.  I already have a serious case of eyestrain, my head is killing me, and I think my ass is getting flatter by the second. 

Biggest news these days is:  drum roll please...  I am moving!

No, not to the big, light and bright place.  I was too stressed over that decision so I pulled my application.  No, I am moving to the other place I really liked.  I absolutely LOVE the layout, I'll have my own garage, and I overlook wetlands so it's nice and quiet.  When you've been living next to a major thoroughfare AND a freeway for six years, you long for the quiet. 

And of course, moving means that I.  Am.  Moving.  My stuff.  And I am really hoping that my real life friends will offer to help.  So if you are one of my chosen few, you would make my year if you would drop me a note saying that you can lend a hand.  Or two.  And a back.  With feet.  Half a day and we'll be done.  I'm even getting rid of the three biggest/heaviest things I own before I move so the rest will be easy peasey.  I pay in pizza and beverages and a favor to be named later.  I may even have the extra bonus offer of snuggles with tiny kittens.*   If you have teens that would otherwise be loitering, I pay $40 plus pizza.  Otherwise I need to hire movers and some times that doesn't go so well.  Pretty please????  It'll be considered a workout that day, you can skip the gym with bliss.

Really, how can you say no?

the CilleyGirl

P.S.  The big day is July 21.  So that you can put it on your calendar and stuff. 

*I guess that's the other big news, at least potentially big news:  I may be adopting two kittens next month.  Details to come after Fourth of July weekend.  Meow!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Quest for a Tastier Breast: The Thirteen Things Thursday Edition

1. And how many hits will that title generate? Let's find out!

2. In addition to my lack of interest in bananas, chicken breasts aren't generating any excitement either. At least the ones that I cook; if somebody else made it or if it's in some sort of nugget or strip form, it's still tasty. So of course I decided to buy 40 lbs of fresh, boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I picked up this morning. Now I'm on the hunt for new recipes so that I can actually enjoy the chicken.

3. This morning I had an urge to run a 5K race this weekend. But sadly, nothing much going on in Portland itself on Saturday and I've got a noon appointment so racing in Vancouver or Salem is out. And then nobody scheduled any races for Sunday. I don't understand why. Something to do with "fathers" apparently.

4. My Saturday appointment is with my new chiropractor. My first appointment was last night and she spent two hours with me, if you can believe that. Turns out she runs, her one (and she says only) marathon was the 2011 Portland Marathon, although it's her husband who is the marathoner. She did a lot of trigger point therapy, which in layman's terms means poking deep into my ouchie muscles with a finger or too. My low back feels fantastic today though. Oh, and that spot where I thought I had a deep muscle tear from Shamrock, where my hamstring meets the glutes, is likely just a very very tight muscle.

5. An odd consequence of last night's chiropractic session is that this morning I woke up feeling like every single bit of liquid ever in my head was draining. When I walked in to work this morning, I was immediately told I looked tired. Probably because my eyes and face were all puffy and swollen from fluid drainage. I think my lymphatic system is all fucked up. That's my next piece of cyberchondria I think. I'm doing (and looking) better now but so far today I've had dashi broth, green tea, water, and part of a diet coke.

6. Even if you don't live in the area you've probably heard about the big ass dock that washed up on the Oregon coast recently after floating here from Japan. There is a fascinating story today about the critters that floated here with it. Stuff I'd never think about, because I'm not a marine biologist type person. The slideshow is really nifty.

7. Went out for lunch today with my co-worker and her car ran out of the gas on the way back. I told her I wasn't going to be making out with her. I got all caught up on Facebook while we waited for a third co-worker to bring us fuel. Plus I scored a nice travel mug that somebody had abandoned on the curb.

8. I am happy to report that I feel a lot more like myself these days. Except that might be bad news to those of you who think I'm usually a bitch. Toss up, really.

9. I am so looking forward to the Fourth of July weekend. I'll be in Bend, visiting friends and getting my dog fix in. Plus they're fostering a batch of kittens so I'll get that idea out of my system.

10. Still might get a cat. Or two.

11. Hee! I have to go back and watch this episode.

12. Still annoyed that CSI: Miami was cancelled before my dream of Eric Delko's brutal death was realized. Still watching every single episode in syndication though with the hope that maybe this time he'll just fucking DIE.

13. I never got into the book Pride & Prejudice & Zombies or any others of that ilk, but I am interested in seeing the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer movie. How about you?

the CilleyGirl

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday - The By the Numbers Edition

1.  How was your weekend?  Mine was uneventful.  I kept breathing all weekend.  I did laundry and some grocery shopping.  Read a few books.  Watched a little TV.  That's pretty much it.  Ah depression, you are so much excitement.

2.  I thought I'd check back in with my EAT/RUN/SLEEP progress (check the post called Mojo CPR STAT).  On the EAT side, I'm doing okay with working on normal portion sizes.  Some times I still dish out or make too much, then it ends up back in the fridge or in the garbage.  Usually depending on how tasty it was to start with versus whether the ants got to it.

3.  As for RUN, I haven't been.  Boo.  Depression sucks.  Run tomorrow?  I hope to.

4.  SLEEP.  I think I mentioned I started wearing a body bugg thing again.  Mostly because I wanted to see my sleep patterns.  There is some serious tossing and turning going on these days.  Some of that has been the depression/allergy inspired insomnia.  Friday or Saturday night I moved around almost all night long, rather than having a couple of incidents of it.  I slept in yesterday because I didn't really have anything better to do.  I got up at noon because my little neighbor and her friends were knocking on my door.  For about five minutes.  After I was finally awake, it cracked me up.  Particularly since they then only played in my yard for maybe ten minutes after all that.

5.  Did you watch the True Blood premiere last night?  I'm annoyed with Eric and his "Fuck Sookie (and not in that good way)" attitude.  But then that's Eric.  Pam's extra bitchy these days too.  Maybe they both have VMS.  And poor Tara just can't catch a break, can she?

6.  I still haven't found my small town romantical series to read.  Fifty Shades was the winner of the recommendations, but while I'm fine with BDSM as a lifestyle, for me personally I don't find it particularly romantical.  Plus, and this is more important, I've heard the writing sucks. 

7.  I did start reading a Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham that was decent.  Technically it's supernatural romance but I find the romance kind of flimsy so I've been skimming over those parts.  It's not much more than "Hey!  We're the two main characters, let's instantly fall in love for no particular reason!"   Sadly, a lot of Nora Roberts' are becoming like this too.  At least the backgrounds of canine search and rescue and smokejumping are extremely interesting.  But her latest one, The Witness, didn't hold my interest. 

8.  The only thing really holding my appetite's interest these days is Japanese food.  I wonder if it is the umami of it all. 

9.  I continue to have little to no interest in bananas.  I do not understand.  Have you ever suddenly lost interest in a food you used to love?  Although, given how uninteresting I find a lot of food these days, I wonder if I've suffered some sort of taste bud trauma.

10.  Taste Bud Trauma would be an excellent name for a band.

the CilleyGirl


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thirteen Things Thursday: The Weird Universe Edition

1.  One of the first things I do after I wake up is open my blackout curtains to check the weather.  My bedroom window overlooks my yard.  Yesterday I immediately noticed that (a) it wasn't raining, and (b) two small black boxes had appeared in my yard that weren't there the day before.  Upon investigation, I found a third one up against my house and determined that while they were not bombs, they were rodent traps.  But like ten inches across and eight inches deep so those would be some big ass rodents.  My landlord confirmed that they had put traps in my yard.  She didn't get my bomb joke.

2.  About a week ago I went to lock my front door as I was leaving for work and noticed that, in violation of all rules and regulations relating to the continued status of life of the area's spiders, an egg sac had recently hatched.  Leaving about a hundred little baby spiders hanging out on the drain pipe next to my door.  Clearly somebody missed the memo stating that no spiders may be alive within eight feet of my apartment's boundaries.  The penalty for breaking the rule:  Immediate death by ant and roach spray, which work just fine on spiders.

3.  So after the mass murder I put the spray of death back into my house, relock the front door, and go to leave.  At which time I determine that TWO somebodies did not get the memo, because there are another hundred or so little baby spiders on the drain pipe next to my neighbor's door.  Another round of spraying puts me into genocide status among the spider community.

4.  This morning I go to grab breakfast on my way out the door and spot those little black ants on my kitchen counter.  Maybe a dozen of them.  A judicious application of the thumb and paper towel of death and after washing up I'm ready to grab that breakfast.  Which is when I realize the source of the ants would be inside the clamshell with my breakfast.  I spray the ants and the food, dump both in the garbage, and leave, secure in the knowledge that soon I will be known far and wide as the Butcher of Arachnia.

5.  I do know that ants are not arachnids, but it flowed more smoothly than Insectnia.  If you want to creep yourself out, go read the Wikipedia page on arachnids.

6.  As you know, I've been out of sorts for a while.  I was exhausted nearly all of the time but couldn't sleep, couldn't focus, had a low level of anxiety all the time.  Kind of that "did I leave the iron on?" feeling, or maybe the "I forgot I did something that could cost us a half million dollars" feeling, but I couldn't figure out what was making me anxious.  Then one night I'm trying to fall asleep and I'm idly wondering about the tenseness in the left side of my jaw and whether maybe I'm having a heart attack and that's why I feel so blah all the time.  The next thought through my brain is about how at least now I don't have any pets that are dependent on me so if I am having a heart attack it's okay, and maybe that dying wouldn't be such a bad thing.  So then the next thought is, Fuck!  I'm having a major depressive episode!

7.  Because I only think of dying as a good thing when I'm massively depressed.  Not sure how it snuck past me this time and for long enough that I start having suicidal thoughts, but knowing the problem is half the battle.  The other half of the battle is, I hope, the extra dose of anti-depressants I took this morning with the idea of kickstarting my brain chemistry.  I feel so much better already, you wouldn't believe it.

8.  And no, I'm not going to kill myself, either actively or passively.  If I don't continue to feel better, I'll be going in to my doctor to see about adjusting my meds. 

9.  Earlier this week I went to meet the two cats I've been thinking about adopting.  I haven't had a cat for the past three years or so and right after I lost my cat to old age I found out I'm very allergic to them.  The last several times though that I've been around cats I haven't had much of a problem, beyond the usual "I'm already allergic to everything else, cats don't add much to it!"  Plus I didn't have a lot of problems with my own cat, so I was hopeful I'd be able to live with a kitty or two.  But my allergies kicked up big time when I was with these guys.  I think it had a lot to do with being with three cats (there was another one there for adoption in a separate cage) in a very small space who probably could've used some grooming.  I think this weekend I'm going to go down to the main shelter and look around some more. 

10.  I was flipping through a couple hundred cable channels last night looking for something to watch and almost everything was a reality show.  Some of the cable channels are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel.  Do that many people really want to watch so many different varieties of train wrecks?  I fear for humanity.  And for my sanity.

11.  I follow comedian Jim Gaffigan (@jimgaffigan) on Twitter and for more than a year now I occasionally respond to his various tweets with a plea to come do a show in Portland.  So then he is doing a Portland show this fall and I didn't get tickets and then the show sold out.  So then he added a second Portland show.  I figured I should reward his sweetness in so doing, which bumped up my own ticket karma to where I got a seventh row seat smack dab in the middle of the stage.  How awesome is that?

12.  How to Hide Things in a Book.  See?  I rarely never make this stuff up.  I'm kinda tempted to go.

13.  Since I've started feeling better, I'm ready to pick a book or two back up again.  To read, not to hide things in.  I'm going to start on the new Laurell K. Hamilton/Anita Blake novel tonight, but I'm also looking for something romantical that takes place in a small town.  Anybody have any suggestions for me? 

the CilleyGirl

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Motivation

"There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue."
-Thomas Jefferson

I spent my weekend in and around Long Beach, Washington, which -- if you're familiar with the history of, well, anything -- is where Lewis and Clark ended their jaunt across America. 

Lewis or Clark (L) with a sturgeon (R).

As far as ocean resort towns go, the Long Beach/Ilwaco area sucks rocks.  At least when compared to the incredibly touristy Seaside and Cannon Beach.  Which is what I figured it would be when I headed out on Friday after work.  I was wrong.  If you want to eat in restaurants with beautiful ocean views (and other people, more on that below), sleep with the ocean a few yards from your balcony, and shop for a few hours in quaint little stores, this place ain't for you.  Go to Seaside and/or Cannon Beach. 

If you want a distant ocean view (if any), a trek to the beach, empty restaurants, hit or miss meals, and a small stretch of main street where you're sure the shops are in fact shops, by all means go to Long Beach/Ilwaco. 

The view from my deck. 

That's not to say the trip sucked rocks.  Long Beach is great if you want to get away from it all.  There's sketchy cell service, little to no data access unless you're at a rare place with WiFi, and not a hell of a lot to really do.  Except lounge around, walk the beach, and hike in the parks.

Waikiki Beach at Cape Disappointment.

Despite having lived in the PacNW since I was ten months old, I can't remember ever going to Long Beach, so when I decided on Wednesday that that would be my next weekend trip I wanted to find a reasonably priced hotel with an ocean view and a gas fireplace.  I felt like I found the only place that met all that criteria, and I totally lucked out.  For $130 a night, I had a one bedroom condo with an actual view, king size bed, gas fireplace, and full kitchen.  It was one of the only places I saw all weekend that could actually see the ocean; structures are set back some distance from the beach due to the dunes.  Most places faced the ocean, but couldn't actually see the ocean, only the dunes.

Fog is often seen here.  Gosh, thanks for the tip there, Skippy!

Saturday after dining totally alone in a big restaurant that somewhat scarily had vinyl duct tape holding together all of the booth seats (food was okay though and the waitress was very friendly), I headed back south to Cape Disappointment State Park.  I could've hiked through there all day, and if I'd known that it would take me about an hour to shop my way through the main drag back in Long Beach I probably would have. 

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

There are two lighthouses at Cape Disappointment.  The southern-most one is (go figure) Cape Disappointment.  But you can't actually see the southern lighthouse up north, so when the south lighthouse didn't do as much as they had hoped to stop calling the area "the Graveyard of the Pacific" they put in the northern lighthouse, called (can you guess?) North Head. 

North Head Lighthouse.

For every lighthouse I've ever visited, I always end up with a picture like this.
I don't know why.

The weather turned out to be absolutely spectacular.  I was almost too warm as I hiked up to Cape Disappointment.  And there were mosquitoes.  Oh, and this beautiful young buck.

There were also a couple of beautiful young bucks up at the lighthouse.  From the Coast Guard.  Sadly, I did not get to take their pictures.

On your way up to Cape Disappointment, there is Fort Canby.  Very cool.

If you've ever seen An Officer and a Gentleman, there is a fort just like this near Port Townsend; parts of that movie were filmed there.

The sign says something like "Don't bring ammunition in next to the fireplace, morons!"

There is also a nifty museum up here, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  If you take your time going through the exhibits, it's worth the $5 admission. 

Back down below, you can walk or bike an eight mile trail that follows Lewis and Clark's path.  At the end is Clark's Tree, which is actually bronze. 

Although I had to knock on it to confirm that fact because it really looks like an actual tree.

I guess this carving wouldn't have looked as nice if it was a real tree.

But don't climb it, all the same.

All in all, if you like nature and history, go to Long Beach/Ilwaco.  Stay at the Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort.  Tell them the CilleyGirl sent you.  They won't know who that is, but I've always wanted to say that.

the CilleyGirl.