31 December 2009

New Year, New Life...

I feel like there are so many new things in my life, it almost seems as if I have moved someplace else. I've been on vacation from work for the past week, so I don't even have that constant to ground me. My partner of ten years, my best friend, my everything for so long, is moving out to fix his life - and although we did officially break up months ago, having him leave and lose his constant presence in my life is excruciatingly painful. I am sorting through things -- "This is yours, this is mine," replacing things (new pillow, new towels, new colander), bought a new laptop (How the hell do I buy a wireless router and how can I figure this all out?), am trying to figure out how to navigate my new life.

I think part of it is to think of life as a constant, ever-changing, ever-evolving experience. I cannot expect or plan things because the best-laid plans always crumble and fail. What can I hope for? I really don't know. I hope for happiness, for lots of running (and no or minimal injuries), for lots of traveling, and for lots of love.

I don't think NYC will be my permanent place - I see myself uprooting in a few years, maybe moving to the mecca of ultrarunning (CA) or traveling around for a few years or living in another country. I don't know what's ahead, but I know I should focus on my immediate happiness, and everything else will work itself out. Eventually.

I just have to be brave.

21 December 2009

Santacon 2009

Santacon is a day where thousands of people dress like Santa, and roam the streets of NYC, heading to bars, bowling alleys, parks, art studios, subways and more to share in holiday cheer -- candy canes, gift givings, and yes, lots of drinking.

Holding up a bad elf in Washington Square Park

Me & Rachelle in the East River Park. Rachelle was a snowflake.

 Me, Rachelle & Ricola Girl (People dress up like everything!)

(Mexican Santa and me at The Danger party)

Pimp Claus

 Which way to the North Pole?

 Santas in the East River Park

Walking Christmas Tree

06 December 2009

Difficult Decisions

After being sick for two weeks (including a week of not running), I was ready to hit the trails. I signed up for the Fells 40 Miler just outside of Boston, and was psyched to have one final trail race in 2009.

The course was 8 mile loops, and despite a forecast of rain and snow and 30 degree temps, I was psyched to spend a day out on the trails. 

I felt pretty slow the first loop. The terrain was fairly technical, with some big boulders that slowed me down, and it took a while to warm up. I was running alone when I ran into Nelson and Giselle, who were lost after arriving late. They were on the blue trail and they began running with me. Fun!

Back at the start, we fueled up, and Nelson and Giselle got the dogs. We ran the next lap with the dogs, which was fun. We changed directions that lap, and I liked that way -- easier.

Nelson and Giselle wanted to run in opposite directions, so Iliana and I ran together the easier way. It was fun, though it started raining a little. I decided to definitely do a fourth lap, while Iliana decided she'd nap.

When we got back to the start, the RD told me he didn't want me going out. "It'll be too dark." Damn, I didn't even think of a headlamp. I ended up borrowing a headlamp from someone. I began to get ready for my fourth lap.

"The thing is...I'm leaving at five. You can still go, still continue, but if anything happens. Bring your cell phone."

I was debating - should I stay or go? There would always be another race - but I hate stopping running, especially when I was having a blast. I decided I'd go. I swapped shirts for a drier shirt, put my mobile phone in my fuel belt, filled up my water bottle.

"You could slip..."

Getting lost in the dark...

I began to doubt myself. Should I go? Should I stay?

I dropped my headlamp and lost a battery. I was fumbling, trying to leave.

And then it started to sleet...ice...snow...rain...

And my decision was made. The rocks were slick enough at the start, even more so with a little rain. But with ice...I am not stupid enough to risk breaking a leg.

I was okay with that decision. Sad, yes, but there will be plenty of ultras. I ate some pizza with Nelson and Iliana and I began the snowy drive back to NY.

There will be another race soon. There's always another race. There's the Phunt 50k and the Watchung 50k and the Dances with Dirt 50 Miler and Umstead...so I didn't get in Western States 100, but maybe there will be San Diego 100 Miler or Big Horn or just a lazy day on the beach....There will always be more races. I knew if something bad happened I would not have been able to get help easily, and there would not be people periodically passing me -- and I would regret the decision of taking an extra lap. Sometimes, the smart decision is the hard one to make.

29 November 2009

We Are a Different Generation

We are the Twitter Generation. We are the generation of living with someone for ten years, breaking up, and still living together. We are the generation of expensive hobbies, like surfing and skiing and scuba diving, despite small salaries. We are the generation of having cats instead of children. We are the generation of spending too much on certain accessories or shoes, and then wearing handmade clothes or hand-me-downs. We are the generation of drinking too much until way too  late, seeing the sun rise, then going for a run. We are the brunch generation. We are the generation of margaritas before tennis. We are the generation of sex with people whose last name you might not get, but the generation of taking it slow with people who matter. We are the generation of "Family First," but the generation of "All Families are Psychotic." We are the generation of fancy delicious cocktails, designer drugs (whether or not you partake), and where saying no gets you strange looks. We are the generation of doing things our own way. We are the generation of artists. We are the generation of struggling.We are the generation of reading US Weekly in between Anna Karenina. We are the generation of reading YA books. We are the generation of jargon. We are the generation of cocktails before brunch. We are the generation of discussing things our parents never discussed. We are the generation of philosophy at 4am on the JMZ train. We are the generation of replacing batteries on our carbon monoxide detector but forgetting to pick up our dry cleaning. We are the generation of seeing ourself in other people but knowing we are special. We are the generation of instant gratification. We are the generation of not lying to make other people feel better. We are the generation of not sure how to let people down. We are the generation of knitting, of crafts, of hot cocoa with paprika, of sex at inappropriate times, of making do, of taping postcards on the wall next to expensive matted framed artwork. We are the different generation. We are the fuck you generation. We are the generation of things you didn't know was possible.

22 November 2009

figuring things out

Sometimes, it takes illness to put things into perspective. In the pain, I try to focus beyond, but other things are no longer blurred.

My life has been complicated, but most people's are. I feel happy that my rough patch is ending soon, and am learning to redefine myself. (You know how when you travel you constantly redefine everything around you and who you are? I'm doing that without leaving my city.) My doctor forbid me to run (Well, she said, "Stay off your feet," so I'm pretty sure today's 20 miler would be verbotten. Last time this happened, when I asked her if I could run, she yelled at me so loud everyone in the waiting room heard me.), and I know I can't always rely on running to pull me through. During all I have recently suffered, I related to my friend last night, maybe there was some sort of relationship between running and quality of my past relationship. Perhaps some mathematician has determined this? I'll have to ask the ultra list.

I haven't been sleeping enough but I have been asking lots of questions. I've been snuggling with my cat, knitting, dancing, giving hugs to complete strangers, throwing flower petals, rejuvenating friendships on the city streets. I've been writing, looking at what's next, letting the road take me, spreading the love of within. I'm happy how things are figuring themselves out next. I love the scene I'm a part of in NYC - the parties, the running, the secrets. I know this city isn't for me for forever, but there's so much here for me to explore and discover.

In honour of Jessica, here's the song that really wants to make me dance lately.

15 November 2009

50k Solo on the Greenbelt Trail

Had a great run today on the Greenbelt Trail on Long Island. I got lost at one point (when crossing Washington from the north, do not go on the white trail with black dots directly across the street; instead, cross, run down the road abt 300 meters and then you'll eventually see the entrance). My favourite part was when I was trying to run around a mud puddle and I slid in and couldn't stop laughing. It was mentally tough, but I pushed beyond: I must be strong for my upcoming ultras; I want to go sub-24 at Umstead. I need to work on becoming more mentally tough.

06 November 2009

What Love Can Be Like

A longing that comes upon you while you are loading the dishwasher or weeding the garden or sitting in front of the television or turning out the light to go to sleep, and you don't even know what it is, this longing, and you think maybe you're in need of a vacation or maybe you are dying because the ache of it hurts so fucking much.

--Binnie Kirshenbaum, The Scenic Route

NYC Marathon Race Report

Last Sunday was my fifth New York City Marathon, and my eighth marathon. Everyone was constantly saying to me, "Oh, a marathon? 26.2 miles is nothing to you." I disagreed with them before, during, and after the race. 

I like ultras better because you can stop and that's fine (even normal!), you meet tons of people because you're talking, you get to run slow, you see amazing nature, dirt is soft your feet, changing terrain is interesting.

However, as far as marathons go, I adore New York. The diverse neighborhoods, the people, my friends, family, coworkers (even boss) are all out there cheering me on. The communities really give so much of themselves and you understand why NYC is such an amazing place.

I had a tough race -- mentally and physically. I was aiming for 3:22, though I really wanted sub 3:20. I started out running strong. My first mile was slow because somehow all these 9:30 milers were ahead of me (!) and I had to shove through them all to be able to run a decent pace. I held strong, passing my parents and boss at mile 8 exactly when I was supposed to.

At one point early on, I felt pain, but ignored it -- I drew my energy from the crowds, from my fellow runners. I had a HUGE smile on my face -- nearly the entire time. It is such an amazing race -- even if you don't run marathons, do NYC once. You will be blown away.

Williamsburg was nice, and I saw all my friends from my running team, North Brooklyn Runners, at mile 12. Mile 13 was right by my house, and I felt good. I pushed over the Pulaski Bridge, and saw Megan and Kesha (coworker and former coworker) just past the bridge. I was struggling and starting to feel out of it but kept pushing.

Before we turned onto the 59th St Bridge, I saw these people with a table of food. I found I could no longer eat. (Part of my problem I later see is that I woke up too early, ate breakfast before 5am, and only had a gu and started running at 9:40. Not enough food...) "Please, food! Do you have pretzels?" I ate a bite of apple spice cake and a handful of pretzels. I was able to focus and pick it up.

On the bridge, well, I think if I jumped into the East River I might have felt better. My pace drastically slowed and everyone passed me. Ugh.

On 1st Avenue, I picked it up. How could I not? Like an idiot, I put my name on my shirt, and people would not shut up. Okay, I'll run faster.

After I passed my parents at 91st St, I was still on target for a PR, but not a 3:18.


The Bronx. I stopped to pee. I stopped in a medical tent for pretzels (yes, I eat like an ultrarunner). I hated the Bronx. I always fall apart in the Bronx.

In Manhattan again. WTF? How was I so far north? To run all the way DOWN to 59th St, crosstown, and then up to 68th St? Is there a bus I could take? At least in an ultra, I can munch a brownie or pretzels and walk for a few minutes and there's no shame. In this race, the crowd will not let you walk.

I looked down and saw Nelson's legs -- his red tribal tattoos make him stand out. I ran up to him, and we both admitted we felt hellish. I gave him some jelly beans.

I had a smile, though. At 97th St, I saw my amazing coworker who had a homemade pink pompom and a sign with glitter and my time: 3:22 (which I told her I wanted to break). I was bummed.

Into the park. Thank god. The crowds would not stop screaming. Stupid hills. I've run in this park more than anywhere else, yet it seemed so foreign. I pushed, but wanted to do. "Don't give up! Cherie!!!" I ran on.

I couldn't...wait...to...finish...

Running along the bottom of Central Park takes forever. When I heard the band at the bottom of the park, I felt relief...but then I had to run UPHILL to the finish. The crowds would not shut up. I pushed, I struggled...

I finished.

3:46. Far from my goal time, but I finished. I finished in the city of my love, NYC.


We have to make our lives meaningful. People die by the thousands every day without doing anything. We must make meaning. 

--Ibrahim al-Mugailreeb, Human Rights First

26 October 2009

Do not what you want, and then you may do what you like

"Do not what you want, and then you may do what you like."

This quote has truly inspired me for several years now. It means so much things to me, but primarily, it teaches me patience.

A few years back, I decided to quit my job and travel. My job was making me miserable, and after an email to my friend Jessica, she wrote me, "Do not what you want, and then you may do what you like." I sat with this quote for a while, and pondered what it meant. It taught me that ultimately I'd be able to do what I liked, what my ultimate goal was, if I sat and was patient and not running off to follow my impulses every other second.

Right now, I have ideas every other second...sell my eggs, quit my job, and move to India...move to California and spend all my time running...keep doing what I'm doing...save up for a RTW...move down to Costa Rica and live on a small farm eating avocados, mangoes, doing yoga, and writing...visit my grandma...visit my best friends...stay at home...knit a scarf for you...bake some more cookies...run 100 miles this weekend...run nothing this weekend...cross-train...ice...do yoga...do stomach crunches...start sending out my work...stay internal...fall in love...pull back...cry...don't cry.

This is a HUGE period of change for me right now. There's a lot of pain but I am trying to look at the possibility of absolutely anything happening. As a slogan for the Boston Marathon was two years ago, "Impossible is nothing." I am trying to embrace that, but with patience. I am living life with my entire heart, but letting my head make the major decisions as well.

Struggle is Beautiful; It is beautiful to struggle

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering,
known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
    --- Elisabeth Kubler-Ros

Motivate Yourself, Runners

Learn to run when feeling the pain; then, push harder.
--William Sigei

I've never regretted going for a run, but I have regretted skipping one.
--Chris Beck

25 October 2009

Sage Advice from a Friend

Sometimes you have to close out some of the old so you can make room for some new. Not fun, but necessary.

16 October 2009

Feminism Quote

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

--Rebecca West

15 October 2009

Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler Race Report

I initially read about the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler in Trail Runner magazine, and it sounded awesome -- good footing, good views, good foods, good people. I fantasized about running it, but didn't register until just a month before the race. I'm so glad I did - it was my favorite ultra ever, probably even my favorite race.

I went to bed early the night before (East Coast time helped me out!) and slept 8 hours, waking up periodically to make sure I hadn't overslept. I arrived at the start, chatted with some really friendly runners, stretched, shivered. The race was fairly chilly at the start -- I started the run with just a tank top and running skirt on, and throwaway gloves (which I wore until mile 20).

With a view like this, how could I not be inspired to run fast?

We started in the dark at 6:30, but as most of it was on pavement in the very beginning, headlamps weren't really necessary. There were some hills, but I pushed on, excited to finally be running a race I heard about months ago and constantly thought about -- especially one that was run by the legendary Ann Trason! Wooohooo! (I don't crush on celebrities, but on ultrarunners like Ann Trason.) I ran the first twenty or so miles with a really lovely woman named Laura; we discussed our desires (and my fears!) to get into the Western States 100 Miler lottery. I lost her when I stopped to pee, and I was happy to see that she finished quite strong (and made the qualifying time for Western States lottery).

Focusing and running hard

The course was hilly -- lots of ups and downs -- and is an out and back. This means that while mile 20-25 you are running downhill, you hate it because you know on the way back you will be walking and suffering. Most of the hills weren't the heavy-breathing-painful-walking-type-hills, but the kind where you could drink some water while power walking or even do a slow run up them. There weren't too many technical portions (yay, because I suck at technical running), but there were some really lovely views, including a bunch of switchback portions which made it difficult to sometimes see how far ahead you had to go.

Smiling big around mile 16

The aid stations -- they were THE BEST of any ultra. Most aid stations tend to run out if you aren't in the top 10% of the race, but this ultra was great. Each aid station had water, heed, S-caps, homemade cookies, homemade brownies, potato chips, pretzels, potatoes with salt, m&ms, watermelon, oranges. I ate brownies, potato chips and watermelon. Yum!
eating a brownie while running=heaven!

I met so many amazing people -- super-friendly runners, aid station volunteers. I was wearing all pink - pink visor, pink tank, pink running skirt, pink gaiters -- so whenever I arrived in an aid station, I got the "Pink lady!" or "Pink!" shouts. It felt pretty good.

I was SO happy to finish. I was pushing as hard as I could, running the hills, and when I saw the finish line, I almost started crying. I ran with my hands high up in the air, pumping them with a massive smile!

Post-race, finishers got a wine glass, jacket, t-shirt, tote bag, and the most amazing post-race BBQ (veggie burgers, grilled meat (if you're into that), homemade soups, pasta salads, corn, amazing dessert, yum) -- I chatted with a newbie and his family, and had the biggest smile!

I had PR'd by an hour and twenty minutes -- I finished in 9:47! I had hoped to break 11 hours, and to break 10 was awesome. I came in the top 100, and this was pretty fantastic in my opinion (out of 234 starters).

Strangely enough, that night I went to a party, had swollen feet but was mostly fine; the next day, the aches were so minimal I barely noticed; I went to San Francisco Burning Man Decompression and danced and walked around for nearly twelve hours. Only my big toenail complained (and looks like we're getting rid of that toenail anyway!), but I felt remarkably recovered from having run a hilly 50 miler!
Finish line rewards!

04 October 2009

dick collins firetrails 50 miler - preparation!

I'm so excited - I'm running another 50 miler. 100s are immense, monstrous, require insane amounts of training, and once you do them, 50s seem quick, like cake. I pick my 50 milers based on the beauty of the course, the fun, the volunteers. I hear they serve homemade cookies at the Dick Collins 50, and there's amazing views - so you better believe I'm psyched to run 50 miles there!

As I'm counting down the minutes, I'm resting, cutting back on alcohol, increasing sleep, and getting psyched for some good times on the trails!

what i did today

Oh, the hilarity of Hunter S. Thompson

I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.

Hunter S. Thompson

24 September 2009

Excerpt from GIRL by Blake Nelson

What I didn't understand that first couple days was if sex was so fun why didn't people spend, you know, like six or eight hours a day doing it? I felt like I could have. And I looked at all the grownups and older kids and the counselors and I thought how everyone on earth complains they can't get sex but why can't they? Just go meet someone and do it. Everyone wants to, how hard can it be? And even if you don't like that person much you'll be having sex with them and sex is so fun of course you'll start to like them.

--Blake Nelson's GIRL

Packing list for a 50 miler

I began a list of what I'll need for my upcoming Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler, and my suitcase is almost already full! I still have to cram in a costume for Decompression, clothes for a few days, and my toiletries.

Here's what I'll need or pack for a typical 50 miler:
  • Fuel belt with 1 bottle
  • 11 gels (I won't eat them all, but I like the security in having them)
  • 4 sports jelly beans
  • peanut M&Ms (2 small bags or 1 big bag; I switched from Snickers to M&Ms)
  • pretzels
  • 1 5-hour energy shot
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 tops
  • 2 running skirts
  • Body Glide
  • visor
  • shades
  • Imodium (After what happened at the VT50, I won't do a long race without it!)
  • Ginger candies
  • Inhaler
  • Watch
  • Tissues
  • Trail sneakers
  • Endurolytes
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeved shirt
While I obviously won't use all of it, this is what I like to have for security. If a race is closer, I'll pack more, but since I'll be in SF for 5 days, I need to cram as much as I can into my suitcase and am limiting myself.

21 September 2009

Iroquois Trail 50 Miler

The Iroquois Trail 50 Miler on Saturday was full of ups and downs, and a little bit in between - I'm talking more about my state than the hills, though it was pretty much the same for the terrain.

The morning started off chilly - I wore a long sleeved shirt, gloves, and running skirt at the start. I immediately began having challenges with my fuel belt -- apparently, I had lost weight since the VT100 and the stupid belt wouldn't tighten enough so it jostled for the next 50 miles, which was rather annoying. I started the race out full of energy and excited to spend the day running 50 miles. My goal was to PR in a 50, to run sub 11:00, ideally 10:30, but I wasn't sure how difficult the course would be.

Overall, I liked the course. Ups, downs, outs, backs. Nothing too crazy, nothing too insane. My major problem with the course is that it was not always well-marked; I had to stop several times to try to figure out where to go next, and even lost about 10 minutes when I ran in the wrong direction after a poorly-marked switchback.

Around mile 10, I had some "female trouble" and ended up wasting 5 minutes in a stupid portapotty. I took off quickly, only to encounter the shoelaces from hell. (Why were my shoelaces fine on various trail runs, including a 10 hour training run, but I run a race and they can't seem to stay in a knot?) After retying them ten times (I counted), I asked an aid station for help and they duct taped them shut. The volunteers were fabulous (as they often are).

Due to my shoelace issues, I ended up losing the group I was running with so I was alone, which wasn't so bad. Plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, chat with new people, think. I'm going through some pretty strong changes and rethinking, and this was a great to do so. I found I zoned out a bunch of times, moving my feet while passing the trees, up and down, really enjoying the day.

A while back, my friend Brad said the reason he liked ultrarunning was "because you get the highest of highs and lowest of lows." I truly felt that; I had insanely high runner's high, and completely bottomed out at other points. Ultrarunning is SO intense.

I was feeling hopeful about the race as I plugged along, and at mile 41, I ended up going the wrong way around a switchback, and running back in the direction I came. (Where to go after the switchback was not marked well and I went in a circle before going back on the same trail - I was not aware of it.) When a fellow runner informed me of this, I told him it was impossible, then sat on the ground about to cry. I got up and was really angry and he kept laughing.

"Don't laugh, it's not funny!"

"I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you."

"I'm not laughing at all! I'm crying!"

"What do you need? Food? Water? Have you been eating and drinking enough?"

This is what I love about ultrarunning; I bite someone's head off and they offer to help. Later, I thoroughly apologized but part of why I was so desperate to get to the aid station was that I inadvertently didn't take all of my endurolytes and was severely electrolyte-deficient (and felt it). When Leo heard of my predicament, he immediately gave me three from his stash, which helped perk me up. We ran together the next five miles or so, and he really helped me. Not only that, but he was fascinating; we talked about Beat writers, fiction writers, love, life, philosophy, and more. He was a really amazing individual.

I started crashing a bit, and let Leo go ahead of me. To sustain myself, I ate more peanut M&Ms and pretzels, and sang Madonna songs in my head.

From mile 47-49.7 (or something like that), it's all insanely downhill. Insanely. I pushed it hard, and was pleased (though my quads are still hating me).

I finished with a huge smile on my face, but almost about to cry. I knew how hard I had persevered, struggled -- with shoelaces untying and portapotties and getting lost and not enough electrolytes and falling straight on my butt -- but I still did it. Sustained by strawberry banana gu, pretzels and peanut M&Ms, I pushed myself - and felt rewarded. (I also rewarded myself later with an amazing meal at nearby Moosewood Restaurant!)

Next up is the Dick Collins 50 Miler! I can't wait!

17 September 2009

"Learned to Surf" - Superchunk

If I seem out of it
I've just gone to find you, Ill be back in a bit
Circles close up but circles are wide
We'll be wearing wigs and costumes, won't need any hole to hide

When I learned to walk, you know humans roamed the earth
I can't hold my breath anymore, I stopped sinking and learned to surf
When I learned to talk, I found words that weren't worth dirt
I can't hold my breath anymore, I stopped swimming and learned to surf

If I drift out in channels way too deep
Its cause I can't stand the shifting sand and shells under our feet
Put your suitcase down, and leave your shoes
Gently by the door, in a puddle with your blues

When I learned to walk, you know humans roamed the earth
I can't hold my breath anymore, I stopped sinking and learned to surf
When I learned to talk, I found words that weren't worth dirt
I can't hold my breath anymore, I stopped swimming and learned to surf

When I learned to walk you know humans roamed the earth
I can't hold my breath anymore, I stopped swimming and learned to surf
When I learned to talk, I found words that weren't worth dirt
Heavy like the rocks we carry, I stopped sinking and learned to surf

I stopped swimming and learned to surf
Stopped swimming, learned to surf
I learned to surf
I learned to surf.

my love affair with healthy toes

It has been said before that runners talk about three things: running, food, and poop. I think we can also add "our ugly feet" into that as well.

I used to have beautiful feet (I've been told!), but with the obsession of ultrarunning in my life, my feet are far from the lovely petals they once were. I've lost toenails, had blisters, and even was starting to form bunions.

Enter Healthy Toes. These fabulous toe stretchers work to stretch your toes and straighten them. I've only been using them about two weeks, but already, I feel stronger in my toes, they look straighter, the bump seems smaller, and yes, they look LESS UGLY! I wouldn't say they're beautiful, but they are looking better!

15 September 2009

Thank you to my beautiful friends

I have been going through some pretty intense changes lately, and as I prepare to paint my walls, paint my heart, paint my career, I am glad there are so many wise individuals that listen to me and hold me when I crumple and fall.

Special thanks to Nelson for reminding me:

There is a whole world out there... It is available for everyone!

beautiful video of reasons of why i went to burning man

13 September 2009

greener grass

my mother and her friends have taken to romanticizing my life. "we wish we did what you did...graduate school, live on our own in the city, travel, go out, do whatever we pleased." it's really not that great - but i still think it's the best option for me.

i don't always want to be like this. sometimes, i hate struggling, living in nyc on a nonprofit salary, not having the means to save up for a house, in relationship turmoil...i think of my little sister, who had her long island fairytale wedding and is living in a house with her two cats and her doctor husband and feel a twinge of jealousy of how stable and easy and how american dream her life must be...but things aren't always as they appear, especially below the surface.

coming back from burning man, a week of absolute freedom ("can you believe it? no one knows freedom. all those people in russia and london and all across the states and everywhere in the entire world - none of them knows freedom," said a guy from santa rosa to me whose camp i stopped by at burning man.), of being able to be who i completely am without any restrictions - i suddenly am in my smushed apt, trying to figure out what's next. i'm thinking clearing some of the crap out of my apartment, out of my life, repainting, maybe some races...but is all of that immediate and should i be thinking more of my future? but i don't know what my future is, what it holds. i could fall in love with a stranger on the subway tomorrow. i could discover deep sea diving. i could learn how to fly on fairy wings. literally, in nyc, anything can happen. i love running through the streets, seeing the fashion, the diversity of people, of lifestyles, of being.

i'm enjoying all of this. i'm enjoying my not-so-stable life. there are more tears than i'd like, and more confusion and struggle, but i'll take these as learning lessons. what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. i have to start figuring out next steps, where i'm going. will i stay in nyc? does my job really want to support my growth? should i travel soon, and most importantly, where? is a RTW in my future? all these things are quite murky and cloudy, but i have confidence that i'll figure them out, even if it's in a fumbling manner. i know eventually, probably at the last minute, i'll have the answers, but i think that's what life is all about: finding the answers, living in search of those answers.

12 September 2009

side effect of burning man

you'll lose weight. i lost 5 pounds this year (and i'm pretty thin to begin with) by having zero appetite, biking hours each day in difficult conditions across the playa, running, dancing, eating snow cones, having a blast. i ate whenever food was offered or something looked appealing, and hydrated well (including mojitos).

Generation A

Generation A Generation A by Douglas Coupland

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A+ Another stellar work of Coupland's. Although it's not out in the U.S. for another two months, I paid $40 for a copy to be shipped to me from Canada - and SO worth it. A brilliant story full of shorter stories and poignant one-liners. Reminds me of Generation X in a way (the story-telling element). The time is sometime in the near-future, and bees don't exist anymore...but suddenly, five people in five different countries are all stung by bees. This is their story as they create stories, try to make sense of their situation, and the world. I am going to immediately read it again.

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10 September 2009

burning man 2009 full recap

so burning man was amazing. it blew me away. there was a lot of time spent thinking, meditating, coming to realizations about my life. i loved being cut off from phone and email without the stress of work, family, cleaning cat vomit, whatever. sure, i had time to play and drink and dance, but i also got the taste of ultimate, absolute freedom...the kind where you stretch your arms out with an amazingly huge smile, knowing that you can do whatever it is you want...

everyone has been asking me how it was. in a word: AMAZING. ASTONISHING. BRILLIANT. EVERYTHING I WANTED AND MORE. there were so lows, but mostly highs, and i can't even begin to tell you how much it changed my life.

here's a very, very high-level overview of just some of the things i did:
  • rode on pegs of some boy's bmx bike (have never done that before)
  • started liking tequila (in margaritas and also in the "jet fuel" served at one of my fave dancing and hooping spots, PleasAir)
  • spanky's wine bar
  • looked at the stars and planets with a boy with this powerful astronomy pen
  • chilled with old and new friends
  • lots and lots of hula hooping
  • lots and lots of trampoline jumping
  • diy workshop
  • did a labyrinth of lights
  • got counseling by two guys tripping on acid on relationship issues
  • ran the perimeter
  • ran the black rock city 5k (and placed second!)
  • let strangers take care of me
  • took care of strangers
  • female workshop
  • sangria slut social
  • librarian cocktail party
  • playa art
  • playa dust & duststorms
  • art cars
  • rode an incredibly steep enormous slide
  • got massage, gave massages
  • connected with friends
  • naughty colouring
  • more trampolines
  • dementha, mojitos, dancing, mint
  • buddha bunny
  • pink mammoth
  • wrote in temple
  • kostume kult's kostume dome
  • watermelon (so tasty in the hot dessert)
  • rock bottom
  • biked lots
  • had bike pedals fall off, bike troubles
  • had strangers help me fix my bike
  • biked around/wandered around in duststorm
  • pickle martinis
  • madonnathon
  • bad advice, lots of it
  • hot pink fake fur bikini w/ matching legwarmers
  • fall in love each and every moment
  • temple burn
  • packing, unpacking, traffic
  • nothing is awful, everything is wonderful, burning man makes life amazing

09 September 2009

burning man 2009

how do i even begin to start describing burning man? it's like going to your fantasy world where you can do whatever you want.

i still am overwhelmed with returning...with showers and normal food and work and email and cell phones and subway doors closing and being clean and not being judged or scolded or yelled at...it was amazing, brilliant, absolute freedom.

i'm still cleaning up, trying to figure out how to take the next steps of my life. they're going to be different -- that's a definite, but how to do them, that's another story.

i'll update more with lots of photos and the full story soon.

26 August 2009

off to burning man!

i'm signing offline for a few weeks - i'm first flying to portland to run hood to coast with a bunch of friends. it's a 197 mile relay from mt hood in oregon to the coast. apparently, there's a huge party at the end which sounds like a blast. wooohooo! the day after we finish, i'm heading back to portland, grabbing a rental car, picking up rachelle's bike, picking up rachelle, grabbing food and water, and making the 11-12 hr drive down to BURNING MAN! we'll be dancing, making art, hula hooping, meeting rad people, revelling with pink hair and fairy wings and costumes...i can't wait!

18 August 2009

PRE LOVE & Other Running Quotes

It seems when I was younger, I had a bit of a Pre-obsession. I found a bunch of quotes I used to have on my wall in a box in my parents' house the other day; here are some of the best for your runners out there to be inspired by.

You think, 'Why should I do this? i don't have to run this hard.' But that's when I think about them. They keep me going.

Running is the only sport. The rest are just games.

I'm going to try to work it out so in the end it will be a pure guts race, and if it is, I am the only one that can win.

Life is thirst.
--Leonard Michaels

You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

I'm not afraid of losing. But if I do, I want it to be a good race. I'm an artist, a performer. I want people to appreciate the way I run.

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice your gift.

Being fast has nothing to do with speed; it's how much pain you can handle.

Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, "I've never seen anyone run like that before." It's more than just a race; it's a style. It's doing something better than anyone else. It's being creative.

08 August 2009

overnight training run at harriman -- followed by a 5 mile road race

Despite just having started training again post Vermont 100 miler, when some of my trail friends asked who's up for a long overnight run in Harriman Park, I immediately said yes. I wish I had done an overnight training run prior to Vermont.

We met on the Upper East Side at 6pm. Garth quickly quipped that he was one of the few men in Manhattan with duct tape on his nipples that evening. Hmmm, I'd be willing to bet he was one of the only ones. After setting up our aid station a.k.a. dropping our water around Mile 10 (which we'd pass twice), we headed to Tuxedo and began the trek after 8p.m.

Headlamps were immediately in order, and I was pleased with my fabulous Myo-XP. The trails were very rocky, technical, hilly, with lots of walking, careful foot planting (and inevetibly, tripping). My stomach somehow felt okay, and I began gelling every hour. Lisa led the four of us (she knows the trails best, and she's the fastest), and Lisa, Scott, Garth and I stayed fairly close -- Lisa and I chatted much of the time, and even if we couldn't hear Scott and Garth as clearly, we could always see their headlamps.

At Mile 10, I ate my first Mojo bar ever (wow, they're pretty awesome), and felt good. It was strange to be running so late, but I wasn't that tired. I still was going strong. Every so often, we'd run across this open rock face, and see the clear amazing starry sky -- it was truly beautiful.

I was happy to see no wildlife except for lots of deer. (I'm afraid of being eaten by a bear, so I'd rather not see any while running.) We heard coyotes at one point, and I tried not to think about the fact that I was running towards their howls. Step, step, step. Careful plod.

When we looped back past our aid station again, I took a 5 hour energy shot. My energy didn't soar like it has other times, but I felt less sleepy. As the run went on, my coordination (okay, so I normally don't have very much) was shot and I found myself doing the butt slide down several steep rock declines.

We finished sometime after six, and celebrating by changing into dry clothes (dry running clothes for me) and eating. I didn't eat that much, but drank a good deal of water. We drove back to the city, high on our great run but exhausted.

At this point, a sensible person (But would a sensible person decide to go running for 10 hours overnight? Probably not.) would go home and go to bed. Instead, I went straight into Central Park and met up with my team, North Brooklyn Runners, for the team championships. I ate some of my pbj on bagel, and my stomach started feeling wrecked shortly after. Great...I hoped I wouldn't throw up.

After cheering on the boys, the women's race went off. I felt so ill but pushed out a first mile in 7:20. Respectable. I decided not to kill myself, but to push myself on every downhill; otherwise, I could chill/try not to vomit. That strategy worked, and I finished just over 38 minutes. I was pleased, considering I did it on no sleep and a 10 hour trail run the night before.

We hung out in the park for a bit, and headed to the subway. This is where I should have gone home and showered and went to bed. Instead of going to bed, I headed to McCarren Park, where my team had a yummy picnic. Despite my sworn hatred of tequila, my friend Matt handed me a mango mint margarita he made -- I drank two and and relaxed in the sunshine with good friends and fab runners.

And then I took a nap.

02 August 2009

lessons learned from the vermont 100 miler

The Vermont 100 Miler (#vt100) was my first hundred miler, and since finishing two weeks ago, I've thought a lot about what I could have done differently. My goal was a sub-24 hour finish, which I know I could have done had everything been aligned -- but everything wasn't aligned. When you're running 100 miles, you're not thinking very clearly. Now I am and thinking back on a few things I know I'll do differently next time...

  • Take ibuprofin if you need it. My feet were swelling ridiculously, and while I was carrying ibuprofin with me, and had some in every drop bag, I didn't take any. I chalk it up to cloudy thinking.
  • When you're sleepy, take caffeine. I had some in my drop bags, but I probably should have carried some with me. I didn't take it b/c I didn't want to, and at one point, I was swerving across the path (good thing I wasn't a car or I would have hit something).
  • Don't talk to your pacer for a while before. Mecca caught me up on some good stories, gossip, etc., which was great when I was sleepy.
  • Change your socks. I almost changed my socks earlier, and wished I had -- I never would have had swollen, rash-covered, blister-covered feet if I had. I thought my feet were fine, and the pain didn't start until mile 55 or 60 or so. So next time -- I'm changing my socks frequently.
  • Bring an extra pair of shoes - a half size larger. A friend recommended this to me, and I thought, "Spend all that extra money...and how can I size myself in a shoe a half size larger?" I wish I did. With my allergic reaction, my feet swelled up so big that I couldn't get my feet into anything other than flip flops for a few days. No joke: the Monday after, I couldn't stuff my foot into my Birkenstocks and had to go home from the doctor's in a surgical boot.
  • Baby wipes would've made me feel fresher.
  • Eat. My stomach was wrecked and I decided I couldn't eat gels but I wished I tried to, or tried something other than all the solid food I was eating.
  • Drink less. I drank so much I was stopping every 20 minutes -- good thing I was running with guys who were stopping the same. I ended up gaining 4 pounds between mile 47 and 70! This also could've had to do with the eating all solid foods thing.
  • Bring toilet paper. I was peeing nonstop, and there's not toilet paper hanging from the trees. I was using leaves, and I told Mecca, "It'll be a miracle if I don't get some sort of infection after this race." Yay for miracles.
I'm sure there are other things, but these are a few of the things I've learned. I had a blast, and I'm so glad I met so many amazing people and had a great support crew. I can't wait for my next -- and yes, there will be a next -- 100 mile run!

27 July 2009

Great Margaret Atwood Quote

A [breakup] is like an amputation. You survive, but there's less of you.

25 July 2009

have i been thinking wrong?

This past week has been a strange one. After running my first 100 miler, the Vermont 100, I had to deal with my scary feet -- covered with blisters, swollen. I took off work to visit my podiatrist ("I love having such interesting patients." Um, thanks.), and have been spending the rest of the time Not Running. Life has always been full of sparkles when I'm running, and when I'm Not Running, I'm plotting my next run. My doctor told me I had tendinitis -- I think it's minor, but there's been aching in my ankle on and off for a while -- and I'm not running for another week. It's torture, this Not Running. Walking on the beach yesterday, I yearned to be running. I went to the suburbs to visit my mom, I loved the green everywhere -- green trees, lawns, the space, the clean air. I guess that visit and all the time spent Not Running is what triggered this thought pattern below.

I saw my childhood next-door neighbor with her cute 9-month-old baby, my married sister and her husband (It's very weird - they refer to each other as "husband" and "wife" all the time -- they just got married last October so maybe it's still the new exciting thing?), I saw the garages and the lined-up tulips and the straight-up career trajectories and the bicycling kids and my past and thought, "Did I fuck up my future?" Have I been thinking wrong all along? I didn't take the path I was taught to.

I went from college to working for a bit at a nonprofit to my MFA in Writing to my MLS to traveling to working a job...I'm living in Brooklyn in a neighborhood I can no longer afford, and I'm watching my savings slowly dwindle while I work at a nonprofit for the greater good...I'm in an unstable relationship that will probably blow up any minute, especially since he is probably moving away -- and this is a relationship of way too long for me to not know where it is going. It scares me -- I never thought I'd be on this path of I don't know where I'm going. I'm all for Robert Frost and opting for the road less travelled, but I think I'm more or less bushwhacking right now. I don't see the path. I'm covered with cuts, scrapes and bruises. (For the ultrarunners out there, I feel like I'm attempting Barkley.) I'm thinking about the immediate -- drinking from this stream for my thirst, eating some blueberries for my hunger, running for my passion, a pause for rest -- but I don't know if this bushwhacked trail will ever end up on a real trail? Will I arrive at a destination? Is life not about the destination but the journey? But what if the journey is confusing and painful and seemingly pointless and hard?

I'm trying not to let my tears blur my view for the vision of the future; I'm picking out fabrics for dresses to sew, races to run, plane tickets to see family, logisitics for Burning Man, sewing wings for parties. It's painful, it's complicated, it's confusing, it's not easy, it's not what I pictured, but I think I'll roll with it. I'll try to smile, I'll dance in the subway, I'll laugh on a run, I'll call my mother back, I'll eat too many sweets, I'll douse my body with cold water when it's hot...I'll remember that life is good and try not to cry too much -- but also to remember it's great to cry when I'm happy.

20 July 2009

vermont 100 miler race report

I've been thinking about this race for SO long...I can't believe I finished it. I truly did it - I ran 100 miles!

I woke up Saturday morning at 2:30 a.m. I ate a peanut butter and jelly on a bagel, stretched a bit, and off to the start. The race started at 4 a.m., and I started with my old headlamp that is very uncomfortable. I didn't wear it on my head, but wrapped it around my wrist (good tip if your headlamp is bothering you) and ended up leaving it with the volunteers at the first aid station at mile 7.

I began running and chatting with Toby, who I'm also following on Twitter. We shortly joined up with a few other runners - Jon from AZ (who I'm also following in Twitter!), Paul from Arkansas, Shane, future Navy Seal (if things work out well for him, which I believe they will), and many others. We had a good group of us, chatting, swapping stories (including weird fishing techniques, eeek!), dishing out the ultrarunning gossip. I love meeting other ultrarunning nerds and talking about ultrarunning.

Mile 9 my stomach required a pitstop and I hoped my race wasn't over. My stomach was hurting me on and off throughout the race - an unfortunate theme throughout this race. When I packed, I had speculated I'd eat 20-24 gels; I ended up only eating 3. The idea of eating a gel was repulsive and as I dry heaved at one point, I decided not to push it. Throughout the race, I ate pretzels, animal crackers, watermelon, gummibears, mini snickers, and other assorted random foods.

After my Portapotty 3 minute rest stop, I caught up to my friends after a few miles. We continued chatting and having fun. We couldn't think, "Only 82 miles to go" or whatever - you can't think like that in an ultra because it becomes too demoralizing. You have to think, "Only 2 more miles to the next aid station."
At Pretty House, mile 21.1, I met up with Mecca (my pacer for the last 30 miles!) and Bill (my handler). They were great throughout - handing me pre-filled (with ice and water) water bottles, handing me food from my bags or aid station tables, helping me get in and out of the aid stations as quickly as possible.

Leaving Pretty House, my stomach was bothering me but I kept running. Our group numbers changed throughout - we'd stop to pee, and some people would pass us, we'd catch up, we'd get new people, lose them - but it was mainly Jon, Shane, and I. We had a great time chatting and keeping our whining down a minimum. My stomach was bothering me, and there were times I wanted to walk, but if I did, I might be alone. So I kept on trucking.
At the first weigh-in at Camp 10 Bear, I was the same weight. Yay! Good news. I saw Bill again (who oh-so-awesomely got me a yummilicious coffee cake muffin), and he sprayed my scalp with sunscreen. Mecca was napping so she could run all night with me. I ate some watermelon and headed out to the trails with Jon and Shane.
Margaritaville was great fun. Rumour has it, if you drop out here, you get a margarita. My joke was, I don't like tequila (and thus, margaritas) so I couldn't drop out there! I saw Bill again as I devoured some absolutely delicious home-baked cookies (cinnamon chip cookies! chocolate chocolate chip cookies!). Shane had taken off ahead of us, so it was just me and Jon, chatting, running, struggling, but persevering.

It was sometime after Camp 10 Bear that I began drinking too much water. I drank almost an entire bottle in between each aid station, and since the aid stations are 2-5 miles apart, this wasn't the best thing. I was peeing nonstop, but luckily Jon was too b/c we kept stopping alongside the trail. By the end, we weren't even looking for bushes. Just, "I'm stopping here to pee." Jon would move up 5 feet and pee there. Ultrarunners like to talk about "food, running, and pooping," Mecca quipped in the car ride up. Add peeing to that list too.

We headed back into Camp 10 Bear just as it was starting to get dark. When I got weighed in again, I was four pounds heavier. I also attribute this to eating more solid foods. We thought a sub-24 hour finish would be impossible, but were informed that while it would be tough, it was possible. I changed in a dark corner, put on new socks and shoes, sipped a little cold broth, and prepared to leave...just as I did, I started feeling violently ill - freezing cold, nauseas, and dizzy. I sat for several moments in a chair and finally decided we needed to leave.

Mecca accompanied me as I hobbled back to the course. I almost started dry heaving immediately, but then we walked for a while. My feet were KILLING me - they felt like they were so swollen they could barely fit into my shoes. After a while, the nausea subsided and we began very slowly running and walking. Very important ultra lesson: you will often feel worse if you stop, but start walking; eventually you'll feel okay enough to start running again.

We ran into Jon again who was ahead of us with his pacer, and he said he wasn't feeling so well. We stuck together for a while, and I made everyone exchange first kiss stories. Of course the guys said they couldn't really remember, but Mecca and I had many details.

Jon and his pacer held back and Mecca and I continued. When we got to West Winds/Spirit of '76, I was in good spirits. I ate a bit, chatted with the super-duper friendly volunteers (btw, this race is SO well-organized and the volunteers are great and friendly, I recommend it to anyone!) and took off. My feet were hurting me more.

I had been worried a lot about night running. I only slept 6.5 hours the night before (My sleep was punctuated by waking up to look at the clock, or waking up due to Bill's snoring), and I was worried I'd fall asleep or get lost. I put 5 Hour Energy supplements in my bag, along with caffeinated sports jelly beans. My headlamp was really bright, and the course was very well-marked. There were glowsticks every so often, and Mecca and I ran towards the glowsticks hanging from the trees. I started to get sleepy at one point when my feet were hurting me and we were climbing a lot of uphills, and told Mecca to tell me some stories. She's a great storyteller, and really helped keep me awake.

And my feet continued to ache with each and every step. I didn't know what was going on. I typically don't have a problem with blisters, so I wasn't sure what was going on. "My feet hurt so bad, Mecca," I whined, too many times I'm sure. We ended up walking a lot more than I wanted to.

At Mile 88, Bill's Barn, I ended up stripping my socks to change my socks - and saw the scariest feet ever. My feet should've been in a horror movie. They were covered with red splotches, bumps, and yeah, lots of blisters. Later, the podiatrist at the finish line determined that my rainbow-patterned Injinji socks (which I LOVE and feel great and I've worn in a 100k and 50 miler - though this was a new pair) gave me an allergic reaction. My feet broke out in a rash and swelled up, and because my feet were swelling, I got blisters in between and underneath every foot - and in some other spots as well. The woman that was fixing my feet at mile 88, was like, "Oh my god. You're not going to continue, are you?"

Yes, I am!

We rested there for a while - they put me under a blanket because I was shivering and I tried to convince them I'd be okay to run again. I drank some hot tea, rested, let my feet dry. I eventually stuffed my feet into my sneakers (a shoehorn probably would've been helpful as my feet were SO swollen) and Mecca and I hobbled off onto the trails.

The last 12 miles took forever, or it felt like that. I was conscious of the pain with each and every step, and we walked a lot more than I wanted to. I wanted to cry - the pain was that bad. The glowsticks stopped being our guide as the sun came up, and we kept moving. I was so disappointed looking at my watch, seeing a sub-24 hour race impossible, and seeing the time I was out on the course much more than I had thought.
But I finished. I kept going. When I was the "1 Mile to Go" sign, Mecca said, "I hate that sign. I'm going to kick it for you!" She kicked it for me, and we ran as strongly as I could to the finish.

29 hours! Far from the sub-24 hours I had secretly hoped for, but I did it! I finished a 100 miler! I had so many adventures along the way, met a lot of really fantastic people, saw some astonishingly beautiful Vermont calendar perfect scenergy...and really put my limits to the test.

i feel very strong today (and somewhat dead)

that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

--frederick nietzche

16 July 2009

trying not to fall apart

I am so scared -- I'm running my first 100 miler and I wonder, "Have I trained enough?" I haven't done enough back-to-backs. Did I taper too early -- my longest run was a 100k back in late May. I didn't do a night run. My stomach is full of butterflies, and this week I've tried to rest, not run around too much, eat lots of carbs, hydrate.

When I asked Brad back during the San Francisco North Face Challenge last December why he ran ultras and did adventure races, he barely paused to think. "You reach the highest of highs, the lowest of lows. The intensity of emotion."

He's right. The highs are so amazing -- nothing will match them. I remember during that race, running so fast (well, it felt fast -- it probably was only 7:3o or 8:00 minute miles!) through these beautiful Redwoods, feeling so free, so amazing. I love that free, amazing, absolutely high feeling. If that's what drugs are like, well, addicts, yes, I understand you because I'm addicted to RUNNING!

The lows can break you. It's the worst if you are in pain, but it's also horrendous if you're not in pain -- because then you don't even have an excuse. I can't tell you how many times I've cried during a long run in the woods. The worst was when I was completely lost in poison ivy; I cried and called T, my mom. Instead of doing a long 50 mile straight run, I did an out-and-back run which was quite tough, but at least I wasn't lost. I have to remember when I get to those black holes that it won't last. I have to think about the next aid station. I have to think about the rewards at the end, the sweet victory, that sense of accomplishment.

Right now, I'm overwhelmed with worries about the Vermont 100 Miler -- what if I get lost? What if I get hurt? What if I don't make weigh-ins? What if I get sick? What if --

I have to shut those out of my mind, and think, "What if I have fun?"

Yes, I will have fun. A blast. The greatest day of my life!