Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mission Accomplished...Highlights of my year

There are two days I tend to reflect on my accomplishments, what I have done and where I have been. Sadly both days are relatively close. One is New Years (Jan 1rst) and the second is my birthday (Jan 4th).

This means during the major part of the year I am living my life to the fullest, voiding the warranty on my body (although in the case of my knee it is not entirely the factory installed parts so that warranty may already be voided:-).

The past year has been an amazing journey. I have been to places I never dreamed of (Slovenia comes to mind), accomplished successes I never imagined (sub-29 hours at Umstead 100 and almost sub 29 hours at VT100) and shared time with so many great friends. In my world these are the highlights of my year and unlike any "thing", these will be precious memories throughout the rest of my life.

The year started out with a trip to Disney World to run the Disney Goofy Marathon. The half marathon I ran all by myself, but the full marathon I had company: my sister, Cindy. Cindy has crewed for me at JFK 50 miler in 2007, 2008 and at Umstead 100 in 2008. But this was the first time Cindy and I had ever run together. While my pace not ideal for her (we were 2 hours slower then her PW-personal worst marathon time), her training might have been lacking and all the stops for pictures might not have been fun at the time, we still had a great time. Although this may have been positively influenced by her beer stop at mile 25.5 at Germany in EPCOT . Regardless, we finished hand in hand nearly 6 hours after we started. In fact until Las Vegas, this marathon also happened to be my PW this year (and of course being a younger sister I busted on Cindy for this!) Making this trip and race more special was that Tristan also ran the race and my mom was there to cheer us all on.

Since I am not a big fan of cold weather, I headed south 3 times during January and February. In February, Tristan and I flew to New Orleans for a vacation and to run the Mardi Gras Marathon. The marathon was a blast! And the city is slowly recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The course is very cute and I loved the Mardi Gras beads gracing the trees all along the marathon route. They have some wild and crazy trees in New Orleans! I also was fortunate enough to go to Tampa to run the Gasparilla Marathon and see my mom and Grandmother. The race day was perfect and it was nice to spend a long weekend with my Grandma and mom seeing the sights, enjoying the beach and just catching up.

My first big event of the year was Umstead 100 miler. This was my second time at Umstead and I really enjoy the whole race experience. Because the weather was predicted to be bad (which it was), Gilligan did not join us. However, before the race we did get to visit Tristan's dad in Richmond and on the way back we also visited a bit (although this visit is a bit more hazy in my mind--guess 36+ hours of being awake and running 100 miles can do that;-)

Later in April, I had my first business trip. I flew to Boston to speak at the Association for Clinical Research Professionals. I really enjoyed this conference and found the subject matter of the various sessions to be very relevant and well presented. While at Boston this time, the city was a bit chilly and overcast; however, my next business trips to Boston (June for the Drug Information Association and September for the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society the weather greatly improved). In fact from Sept 07-Sept 08, I had 4 business trips to Boston and spent over 12 nights there. I now consider myself an expert since I have walked, used the tube/metro system or run all over the city :-)

May included a trip with a friend Qian from work to Burlington Vermont to run the Vermont City Marathon. I had a great time at the marathon (which runs along a beautiful but slightly hilly course next to Lake Champlain) and sightseeing with Qian. We went to many of the factory outlets including Ben & Jerry’s and the Vermont Teddy Bear, as well as a day trip to Stowe to see the sights including the Von Trapp Family Lodge (it sure is alot easier getting to this mountain top resort by car as compared to running as I did in 06 during the Stowe Marathon). Our trip to VT was great fun and we plan to have another trip in 2009 at New Orleans.

During June Tristan and I took our yearly trip to Niagara Falls Canada. We spent several days near the Falls (on the NY side primarily, which was good because at that time the American dollar was pitifully weak!). At the end of our trip we went to Niagara on the Lake so both Tristan and I could run the Niagara Ultra 50 km race. I started early, finished pretty late but in fact ran 60+ km so I could make it all the way to the falls (which was so worth it...the Falls are spectacular). We had great weather for our vacation and the race and were able to do lots of activities. We love taking the maid of the mist boat ride, walking along the cave of the winds and doing all the other activities by the Falls.

Immediately after returning from this trip, I flew to Boston to participate at the Drug Information Association Annual Meeting. My first presentation was the day following my 60 km race and was a brief description about what I wish I knew when I graduated from college about the field I am in (Pharmaceutical...although I am on the regulatory side). Over the next several days I gave several more presentations including one about career development. In this session I even invited my dad to speak about interviewing techniques (I spoke about Creating an Effective Resume). Based on the feedback I received both of our presentations were well received and definitely provided actionable items for professionals looking to secure new positions. A final presentation I gave was about my experience being in a clinical trial. My experience was pretty tough because the trial I was in involved smallpox vaccine. Let's just say the smallpox vaccine is one that nearly beat me and I have a scar on my shoulder to prove it! Although my experience in the clinical trial was tough, in retrospect alot of crazy things happened during my 18 months as a "guinea pig". And what doesn't kill you makes for really good stories:-)

In early July Tristan went to California to spend some time with his mom. He also attempted to summit Mt. Shasta. Sadly, Tristan has a poor record in summit attempts in July. He has failed at Shasta, Whitney and Whitney a second time in the past several years. Again this year he kept this streak going! The highlight of July was going to Vermont so I could run the VT100 miler. While there, we made our pilgrimage to the Ben & Jerry's factory outlet, Pie in the sky pizza at Stowe as well as the Queechee Gorge. And of course I ran the VT 100 and I succeeded in a time of 29 hours and 6 minutes. I will be back in 2009 hope I can break 29 hours!

August was a great month for Tristan and me. Our month started with a business trip to present at the Joint Statistical Meeting in Denver that was extended and ended as a pleasure trip. During this trip I presented at one technical session and led a roundtable luncheon discussion. While at this conference Tristan and I both participated in a 5km scholarship race. Neither of us did well. We blame the altitude! After our conference finished, Tristan and I spent several days in the Denver area.

A HUGE highlight during our Denver trip was hiking Carpenter peak with Jamie D. then having dinner with her and David. They are such a cute couple and so nice. It was a real treat to spend time with her and amazingly we could keep up with her hiking pace. I think she might have been slowed by her recovery from her amazing victory at Badwater less than a month prior but perhaps Tristan and I are decent hikers. During our hike she did nearly cause me a few heart attacks when she would turn around in excitement. Sadly I am pathetic and her enthusiasm mimics my perceived rattlesnake/cougar alert so a few times I nearly fell over trying to scurry away. Meeting her husband and doggie family and having dinner with them was so much fun. It was really nice to hang out with her dogs Morrison who is so cute and reminded me of Gilligan (only a bit larger) and Kosmo who was a really sweet dog.

While in Colorado, Tristan and I also had the opportunity to sightsee at Boulder which is a beautiful city. We considered tubing down the river that goes through the city center but sissied out. In retrospect we should have toughened up and done it!

During this trip, Tristan and I also were lucky enough to stay with a family friend, the Spangler’s. We met the Spangler Family when I was about 7 or 8 years old when my family took several month long family vacations out West. Jerry was a park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National park and since my family would go there regularly our families became friends. The Spangler’s, both Marge and Jerry were so kind. They gave us some hints for good hikes and of course maps to get us there.

While on this trip, Tristan was able to get another state high point by climbing Longs Peak. After starting out on his climb about 11 p.m., it took him many hours but he was able to get to the summit. He had a really great time and I suspect he will climb this peak many times in the future. While Tristan was peak bagging I spent some time with Marg. She bicycled while I ran through the City of Longmont. Longmont is a cute city with many parks that look out to the Rocky Mountains. On our last night there, Jerry cooked several salmon he had caught recently in Alaska. It was so good!

After returning home, I participated in my second IronGirl Triathlon. My friends who triathlon are amazed I spent over 20 minutes in the transition area after the swim. I may have taken longer in the transition area then the elites do in the swim or the run. But they did not have super clean feet after the transition or a camera that needed its floaties removed (hey the camera needed to be able to swim on its own if we got disengaged!)

September was a very eventful month for Tristan. He participated in a 5 day mountaineering expedition on Mt Baker. During this time he had no shower, access to soap and minimal changes of cloth...yuck! But he had a great time and really enjoyed the experience (well until apparently one night they nearly abandoned his group in a crevasse!). He will be returning to the Pacific Northwest for another expedition in July 2009 to climb Mt Rainier. I am glad he has found something he is so passionate about.

In the middle of September I returned to speak about technical writing at the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society in Boston. It is an excellent conference with a variety of perspectives about the pharmaceutical industry.

At the end of September, Tristan and I went to Upstate New York so I could run the Adirondack Marathon. This is one of my favorite marathons: it is a beautiful course, the town is really supportive of the race and the race organizers really treat the runners well. Tristan and I stayed at Schroon Lake within 300 meters of the start (which is late is so great to sleep in until 8 or so, for a 9 a.m. start!). During the race I was delighted to see my friends Jesse and Jericho who I had met at the race in 2006. It was great to catch up over the 15 or so miles we ran together. During this trip Tristan continued his mountaineering by climbing Colden Peak, a 5,000 ft peak in the Adirondacks that is considered one of the more difficult peaks.

October was a great month! Tristan and I took a vacation to New Hampshire for some hiking and so I could run the New Hampshire Marathon. The foliage was great and really added to my enjoyment of the marathon (which is a beautiful course around a lake in the lake region of New Hampshire). Tristan was able to climb several 4000 and 5000 foot peaks including a challenging loop including Mt Lafayette, Flume, Liberty and others on the Franconia Ridge. This was extra difficult because there was snow and ice at the tops of the mountains.

At the end of October I went on a business trip to Slovenia to attend and present at the Drug Information Association Clinical Forum. My presentations focused on professional development and identifying and pursuing professional positions. I had a great time presenting and think my sessions were well received. While in Slovenia, I ended up staying in the same hotel as the Queen of England (Elizabeth) who was there at the same time I was. It was interesting to deal with the additional security. Oddly enough I did not realize we could step on the red carpet so for a day or two I was leaping over it (in good business attire)--I must have looked pretty amusing. In my defense I did not know protocol and did not want to be wrestled to the ground!
During this trip I was able to explore the country a bit. I ran extensively in Ljubljana. There was an impressive castle on the hill right in the middle of the city I became familiar with. In addition to Ljubljana, I was able to travel to Lake Bled as well as Postjonia. Lake Bled is famous for a castle in the middle of an alpine lake as well as a castle on a cliff right on the side of the lake. Both castles are really beautiful. Lake Bled is also very close to a very pretty gorge, Vintgar Gorge. The water of both the lake and the river is a vibrant emerald green. I also was lucky enough take a small trip to Postjonia where I was able to see Predjama Castle, which is a Castle in a cave as well as Postjonia Jama (Cave). This small day trip was one of my favorite memories from the year. I had to bike from the cave to the castle, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience and seeing the countryside. I hope I will be able to get back to Slovenia in the future.

At the end of October, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for the 5th time. Next year I have a guaranteed entry. I am so excited about this, because for this race, there will be no more waiting at the computer for registration to open! I really enjoy this marathon and enjoy running all around DC seeing all the monuments and history so close to my home.

November was a fairly quiet month. The two highlights include running the entire Harrisburg Marathon with my friend Dave. We previously ran a bit of the Delaware Marathon with Dean Karnazes. It was so great to run a marathon together and catch up. I have limited recollection of the course but really enjoyed spending time with Dave and look forward to running Harrisburg Marathon with him in 2009. My second event in November was the JFK50 miler. I really enjoyed seeing so many friends before, during and after this ultra. My sister was an awesome crew and it was nice to know Tristan was running this event as well. Although I completed the race by about 5 p.m., Tristan finished faster then I by about 20 minutes because he did not make use of the 2 hour early start at 5 a.m. He is starting to talk about running JFK again next year, as is my sister. Now I need to find a crew who will not abandon me to run the race!

December was another great month. We started the month with a vacation to Death Valley and Las Vegas. Because the temperature was so nice, hiking in Death Valley was a pleasure. We hiked through many geologic features including sand dunes, canyons and by vibrantly colored rocks. The marathon was great fun and I was able to see many friends. The night before the marathon Tristan and I had dinner with Joe and Richard. It was great to catch up with both of them. They are such impressive runners and like I were planning to run the Double Marathon. My friend Lauri stayed at both Death Valley and Las Vegas with Tristan and I both nights before the marathon which was alot of fun. We were able to catch up and just had a great time together.

After the Death Valley Marathon, I showed Lauri the Death Valley sights including Badwater. It was alot of fun and we have many stories from this weekend. Las Vegas was amazing as well. It is a sparkeley city, which I really like. The marathon ran along the strip. I made use of this knowledge the day after the marathon when Tristan and I walked around and went sightseeing. Death Valley and Vegas are alot of fun and we definitely plan to go back!

After returning from Las Vegas the remainder of December was fairly low key. I was assigned an acting team leader position at my work. So far it is going well. Around Christmas Tristan and I were able to spend time with my sister who lives in Reston and my dad who was visiting from NY. Additionally, during the holidays we started pet-sitting a friends dog, Billy. Billy has been keeping us busy and will do so through the beginning of next year. On a positive note with his company we have hiked and run extensively. Luckily in DC the weather has been fairly nice so we have been able to hike in Shenandoah, at Great Falls and some local parks. We end the year very physically active, just like we like. Hopefully this will ensure we are prepared for all our planned activities in 2009, which I hope to highlight tomorrow.

Reflections of a Great Year: Running Feats, Accomplishments and Disasters!

Less than 10 hours until this calendar year is over. While my year has had its ups and downs, I would say on average it's been a great year!

All my pets that I started the year with, I end the year with (although two have worn e-collars including Gilligan who is wearing one now). They are all relatively healthy and happy and bring great joy to Tristan's and my lives.

Throughout the year both Tristan and I have been able to set numerous goals and accomplish the majority of these goals. In fact, other than two marathons I DNS (did not start) for factors out of my control, I finished every race I entered. All I started and ended with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

During the year, I returned to many marathon distance races I enjoy, including returning to the sight of my first marathon: Marine Corps Marathon. I also was lucky enough to return to one of my favorite marathons, Adirondack NY where I was fortunate enough to run into my friends Jesse and Jericho whom I had met two years ago. I was lucky enough to run many new marathons (gaining 3 more states in the process) including: Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa, Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans, Death Valley Marathon in CA and Las Vegas Marathon. At these marathons I was able to see my family (mom & grandmother at Tampa), run with Tristan (the first half of the New Orleans Marathon), Death Valley (where I saw Lauri F., Richard T., Joe C., and Lisa B.) and Las Vegas (where I saw Lauri and Larry M.)

I also was fortunate enough to run several ultras this year. My ultra calendar started with Umstead where I saw and met many friends (including a chance encounter with running superstar: Jamie D. who is so sweet and a class act, Emmy S.-who is another running machine but yet so kind, and Belinda P. who I have run with several times subsequently and is so nice and encouraging) and despite challenging weather had a great time. Umstead was a family affair. My sister, her friend Imelda and Tristan all came to support me. Since Umstead has drop bags every 6 miles, their primary focus was pacing me. All three of them paced me very late at night. It is so wonderful to have as good friends/family that I have. And of course I got to see Blake Norwood, the RD is the highlight of the race!

Niagara Ultra was my next event was a tremendous success! With the wonderful Race director Tony's permission, I started early so I could do all the sights. During my ~40 mile journey I was able to see the Falls, the Botanical Gardens, Spanish Aero Car, and Whirlpool Rapids. And of course the most important part of the race I was able to see my friends: Richard T., Joe C., Diane C., Iris, Henry and many others. In fact I was able to run about 5-10 miles with Richard during this race which was nice. Richard is so much fun and such a nice person.

My Niagara Ultra-Ultra was in preparation for Vermont 100. The Vermont 100's weather conditions made Umstead's weather look perfect. But alas with the support of other runners I was able to make it to the finish line in just over 29 hours. At VT100, I was able to see and catch up with many friends and meet many new friends including Rob A., Kris & Randy W., Emmy, Frank, Jamie, and many others. For about 45 miles, I ran with Rob Apple. In addition to being an ultra-running legend, he is such a wonderful person. Without his encouragement I am not sure I would have made it through the worst storm I have ever seen and experienced. What a super person and inspiration he is!

My final ultra was JFK50 miler. This was my 4th JFK50 miler and it was as fun as my previous runs. I am starting to figure out how to get to the right place in the conga-line that the Appalachian Trail becomes during the race. I also am developing the confidence to know that for me 50 miles is manageable if I have trained properly. During the race, my sister crewed for me. She is an awesome crew! At JFK 50 I ran into lots of folks including Joe C., Peter W., Dana from the coast guard and so many friends from the past 5 years. And of course I met lots of new runners including spending a majority of the AT with Antr D. from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. As with my past 3 JFK 50 milers, I ran with the Reston Runners on a team. The Reston Runners consists of so many great individuals, but the superstars of the JFK 50 include Anna Bradford and Jim Ashworth. They are both such well-respected and kindhearted people. The Reston Runners are a great running club and really provide the support and encouragement that makes completing a 50 miler possible.

My year ended with my first double marathon: Death Valley and Las Vegas. It was tough but seeing so friends and being able to say I completed my first double marathon made it all worthwhile.

As this year ends, I am already starting to fill up next year’s race calendar. I hope next year I am as fortunate as I have been this year to run with so many exceptional runners and people. There are so many people who have touched my life in so many ways. These positive interactions serve as inspiration to me. I look forward to seeing you next year and meeting many new runners as I pursue my life on the run.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A household in disarray

Okay, today's blog is coming together nicely

Hmm, no, it's not perfect yet. I'll just add this extra space (or 100 extra spaces since the space bar is my favorite key!)

Here you can see Boo who is oblivious to the blog debacle. But in his defense he is plotting something against Tristan. I assume it involves claws, teeth and an escape word (but unfortunately Tristan will not know what this word is! I can tell you based on historical experience it is not likely to be "Ow", "Stop" or "That hurts")

I think Tristan and I may be close to exhausting Billy. This afternoon I took Billy for a second jog (the "small Kentlands Loop", a 4 mile loop near our house) and from about 1 mile in, he was trailing me the rest of the way. Then at the dog park he barely chased any dogs and when he was jumped on and humped by another dog he just rolled over and submitted. I think a few days ago he would have had the speed and endurance to keep this dog at bay.

Today I also considered some of the challenges Tristan and I have faced with Billy. One is keeping the water bowl filled. Because Gilligan is so sedate we just need to refill the water bowl once a day. But with Billy a) he drinks alot and b) he is a sloppy drinker getting water all over everything except in his mouth. Well today I considered filling up our tub and calling it a water bowl. But then I realized if I ever decided to take a bath it would be highly likely I got company or a canine audience (already our cats sort of walk into the shower when we're taking one--but then they walk out in disgust...or maybe they walk out when they get sprayed by some mist).

Finally, as I was writing this blog, Powder objected strenously. I think she did not want it publicly known that our felines dominate over us and can and do open our bathroom door. There is no "safe room" in our house. This actually brings up an important point about out cats. We have 3 cats. Two out of the three cats we live in fear of. With great regularity Boo walks onto Tristan's pillow and steals it at night. Clearly Boo thinks it is his pillow. But in the evening Tristan takes him off and places him at the foot of the bed. Then at about 4 in morning Boo gets up wanders to the pillow and starts kneading Tristan's head. Boo has claws. He uses them. Tristan shrieks (like a girl I might add), which then wakes me up. I think Boo does not mean to wake me up, but he does have it in for Tristan.

But I have to worry about a cat who has a personal vendetta against me: Puffle. I thought getting Puffie fixed might have settled her down, but in fact the last several nights, My and Puffie's snuggle session goes horrible wrong. Initially we face each other and she lies next to me under the covers. I pet her head and she purrs. Then at some point she climbs over me and starts attacking my back. Seriously with Puffie I have to watch my back. In addition to our snuggle sessions that go wrong, she has attacked me at about 3 in the morning (because attacks never happen at a convenient time!). She climbs under the covers then starts biting my shoulders, back and even buttocks. She is a cat with a taste for homo sapien. Two nights ago she even started attacking my calf (which is quite painful). Our only hope is Gilligan and Sagwa. They treat us well and appreciate our good pet parenting.

Lunch Hour Interrupted

How I wish I spent my lunch hour (I wish I was Boo, the lighter cat, because Sagwa is a REALLY great snuggler...she purrs, is soft and really smushes up against you)

Powder and her boyfriend, Gilligan enjoying each others company
Powder sleeping on the bed

Boo and Sagwa appreciating the freshly cleaned bed covers (recall there was an "oops" incident Christmas, the culprit has not been identified but it is likely to be one of the critters pictured on this blog post, well unless it was Tristan...I guess he is getting old)

Billy after our jog, resting a bit. I don't think our pitiful 7 mile jog will keep him tired long. Perhaps Tristan will "take one for the team" and will go on a long jog with Billy this afternoon. Although perhaps Tristan will flex tommorrow which will enable him to exercise Billy during the day and of course we have his last day treat another full day hike at Old Rag/White Oak Canyon! Billy should not mess with the Massie's because in the end we have endurance on our side (I hope--it would be bad if this trash talk backfires on us and Tristan's mountaineering and my ultra-running did not properly train us to win this competition:-)

Today I am flexing from home. This means I get to dress how I want, stay at home and of course don't have to deal with the horrible traffic in the DC suburbs to get to work. I love flexing. Well until today. Apparently Billy has recovered (if he ever was tired) from our 4 days of activities starting Christmas Day.
By mid-morning I was being micro-managed by Billy acting like he needed me to do something urgent (by standing right in front of me) but not really being clear what it was. He peed & pooped early in the morning and had food & water available so all I can guess is that he is an agent for a sponsor wanting me to review a product more quickly.

At my lunch hour I decided a long run was in order. Since it is a beautiful day (50's and bright sunny skies) we headed out for a 1.5 hour jog (well I am not a fast runner, thus my intended 7 mile loop takes this long!) Our jog was uneventful and Billy is now sleeping. I wish I could, but alas I have too many tasks.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Highlights of the Billy Goat Trail

Enjoy these pictures from Tristan's Birthday "Billy Goat Trail" hike

Tristan climbing one of the sections of the Billy Goat Trail
Cindy and Tristan discussing who was getting shoved in the river...

No, they must have been discussing how they were going to abandon me: Cindy and Tristan climbing up a tougher section of the Billy Goat Trail

With Tristan along the Potomac River

With Cindy at Great Falls

A Day of Rest: At the Office

Yummy chocolate cake to celebrate Tristan's Birthday,

Tristan trying to contain the inferno (although for those of you counting, you can observe I am off by 16 candles...there are 24 candles on this cake, but considering Tristan is 39, the appropriate number was 40!)
A close up look of the flames (at least the fire deparment/insurance company would be able to determine the cause of the fire)

Tristan blowing out his candles (isn't it shocking such an old guy has such strong lungs isn't it??)

Note to self: must be cautious about age jokes since it is less than 6 days to my birthday and I want good presents from him!

Okay, the birthday theme is broken here, but is it not cute what puffie does to Gilligan?? She really wants to become one with Gilligan. I think Gilligan accepts Puffie's love, but is not overly thrilled about her undying affection. This actually was when Gilligan had his hurt paw so he kind of was like a captive audience for her. But how can you resist her cute face?

I never thought work could be so relaxing, but after 4 straight days trying to get/keep Billy tired I am quietly sitting in my office enjoying some peace. I feel a bit bad for Gilligan and our cats who are now forced into single-handedly entertaining Billy during the day, but all I can say is better them, then me!

This morning I slept in a bit until 6:30..wahoo! (yesterdays rock scrambling and falling just wore me out), then after a double dog walk (one person, two dogs), I headed off to work to rest a little. Tommorrow I flex at home, so I imagine I will get roughed up, trampled and in a variety of ways dis-respected. In fact I think the injured reserve list caused by Billy now includes Gilligan (his paw/shoulder/hip issue may have been caused by Billy stepping on him), Powder (who kind of loiters under everyones feet seeking/demanding attention) and both Tristan and I (who have been knee-clipped by Billy). I think Sagwa was effectively stayed out of the fray (it pays to be timid) and Boo somehow has avoided Billy stomping (oddly enough Boo holds his ground and meows pitifully when you get close to him).

And our family has not "gelled" into a cohesive unit that forms and alliance and votes Billy out of the house. In fact there is even infighting (I have seen Boo swat at Gilligan who was stepping out of Billy's way). We clearly have not outwitted, outsmarted or outlasted Billy. But Billy has no idea our final battle strategy. His family is coming back Thursday. But Thursday looks to have some decent weather, so we have decided to return to Old Rag/White Oak Canyon. This time we will seriously hike Billy into the ground. Poor Gilligan is now going to be an innocent bystander unless he can perfect a "fake limp".

On a positive note, we have only 3 more days until we drop dead from exhaustion (or else jettison Billy).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tristan's Birthday..hiking without dogs, with dogs and hanging with the critters

Gilligan and Billy along the trail by Lake Frank

Billy starting the hike
Tristan, Gilligan and Billy at Lake Frank (Billy is in the lake in the background..making use of his new water skills!)

Crossing the bridge over one of the feeder streams

Gilligan and Billy (Gilligan taking a breather for a moment...Billy still has too much energy!)

Today Tristan celebrated his 39th birthday (for real). Next year he has not entirely decided what birthday to celebrate, but now has 363 days to decide.

To celebrate we started our day by walking the dogs to Starbucks at about 7 a.m.. Today Billy decided to sleep in a little. At Starbucks, the dogs did not get coffee, but we did (we need coffee to keep up with Billy at least). The dogs also got lots of affection which was given and stolen (both Billy and Gilligan kind of molest people for affection by running into hand height they almost always are assured they get a pet this way). After coffee, we walked back home and woke up my sister (although this part of the sentence is not "we"--family rules say we cannot call my sister until noon on weekend...I respect this rule). But in fact because it's his birthday (and rules do not apply, right??) Tristan called my sister and invited her to come hike the Billy Goat trail by Great Falls. This is a pretty tough trail that dogs are not allowed. Cindy agreed so we met up on the Maryland side of Great Falls and had a nice 3+ hour hike. By the end my hands were pretty mangled, Cindy's legs might have been worse for the wear (she kept getting her foot stuck in rock crevases she couldn't get out), but Tristan survived pretty well. Guess his mountaineering training is paying off!

The trail is interesting (code for super difficult!) and there are a few sections which are very steep (and entail a bit of climbing) right next to the Potomac River. On a positive note, we all noticed kayakers not to far. Maybe they would rescue us. Although in our little trifecta of Massie/Parliment family members I think every person was named in another person's will making for interesting cliff-side trash talking!

After our hike along the Billy Goat trail it was time to go home and exercise some dogs. Seriously we got close to exhausting Billy yesterday and we are optimistic that we can CRUSH his spirit over the next few days. So we took him and Gilligan to Lake Frank, the second lake in the Rock Creek Park system. We hiked for about 1.5 hours until it started raining a bit. I think Tristan caved and decided we should turn back. Billy does seem to be settling down (or else perhaps our spirit has been crushed). But all three (Tristan, Gilligan and Billy) did get to do one section that loops around called "old Nasty" which is a tough hill they all raced up. I am not clear who won but can attest that Gilligan reached me first on the other side.

After this small hike we returned home and Tristan and I went out for dinner. Tristan debated extensively between Red Rock Canyon (which has good pineapple upside down cake) and Caraba's (which has an amazing chocolate Kahlua brownie cake/mousse dessert). We decided Red Rock since exactly a week from now it is my BIRTHDAY. I will, as usual, be 25! I have no idea where gets their age for me but obviously it is a typo, right?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another Day another hike (and another Great Christmas Present!)

With Billy on the Old Rag Fire Trail

In front of one of the large White Oak Canyon Falls

Tristan trying to convince Billy to swim (without any luck)

With Billy and one of the smaller falls

Gilligan getting some lovin from his girlfriend Puffie (sadly because of his paw/hip/elbow tenderness he was left at home today...I assume Puffle took good care of him because by the time we returned home this evening he seemed to have just a small limp and was moving around freely)

Today Tristan and I woke up about 5 a.m. to get ready for a hike in Shenandoah VA. Sadly Gilligan struggled to get up, so he did not join us. But Billy bounded out to the car ensuring he was not left at home. Tristan and I piled into the car and I drove us about 1.5 hours past Manassas. At Manassas we purchased breakfast and lunch at Panera and switched drivers. At this time I had the chance to look at one of my Christmas presents, a book from my dad about the history and stories from the JFK50 miler, by Dixie Shaffer. As the book is only about 50 pages long with lots of pictures, I finished by the time we arrived in Shenandoah National Park, however I would highly recommend this book. It was inspirational, gave accurate details of the race and at least for me, I knew alot of the people spotlighted in the book.

We drove to Old Rag so Tristan could climb that mountian. Since dogs are not allowed and I find climbing that mountain entails having good upper strength (which I lack), I took a pass and drove to the other side of the Mountian with Billy and parked by Berry Hollow. Billy and I jogged and hiked up and down the fire road waiting for Tristan and finally after about 4 miles, lots of hills and 1.5 hours, Tristan came wandering down the trail. During our workout Billy had gotten pretty muddy so one of us was going to be assigned the task to walk Billy to our next hiking start point at White Oak Canyon parking lot. That person was me. We hauled down the mountain probably doing 8 minute miles (thanks to gravity!). And in fact beat Tristan to the next parking lot.

At White Oak Canyon, Tristan and I started up the path together with Billy. For the remainder of the day, we were together. Our White Oak Canyon hike started at 11 a.m. and at about 2 p.m. we had a turn around time (to ensure we did not hike in the dark). We made it above all of the falls. My recollection is that there are 7 falls on this trail. The water was pretty high making the falls very pretty. Also, there were several remants of ice falls and lots of small falls that are not typically in the canyon. Overall it was a great day. The sun was out and at one point both Tristan and I were both in shorts (and were very comfortable). In fact Tristan mentioned he saw a couple on Old Rag in which the husband was in boxer shorts. It later came out in fact, the guy geniunely was only in boxer shorts and did not even have a shirt on. Apparently this guy apologized a little to Tristan but stated "I was hot". I have to agree with the guy, today was shorts weather for a hike!

After stopping at the various visible waterfalls and trying to convince Billly to swim, it got close to 2 p.m. We ran into a downed tree and took this as a sign that we should turn back. Coming back we saw quite a few people and a few dogs. Billy was one of the few off leash, but he seemed to behave pretty well. He would go ahead of us, but not by much and then he would wait or come back to us. Sadly he did not do any sprint workouts to tire himself out; however, perhaps we are finally tiring him out. I think our hike was about 8 miles long, our morning walk to find Tristan was 4 miles and then we had our 1 mile sprint down the mountain. Thus Billy probably traveled at least 14 miles today.

Hopefully tommorows weather is good so we can get one more good hike in before we return to work. On a positive note, I will flex on Tuesday and plan to run 7 or so miles and since Billy seems capable of this distance he will tag along. Tomorrow is Tristan's birthday so perhaps we will go back to Old Rag because I know that hike is one of his favorites. There is the chance for showers, however, I think that the temperature is supposed to be in the mid-60's and after my 24 hours in rain at Umstead, I can handle a little bit of showers on a hike (I hope!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Exhaustion at the Massie Household

With Tristan and my sister at Christmas.

Billy and Gilligan on the ride to Sugarloaf...notice Gilligan looks less then enthused about this outing
Climbing one of the hills on the trail at Sugarloaf Mountain (note: this is the route Tristan always uses on Sugarloaf...when I run, I use the blacktop surface)

With Billy at the top of Sugarloaf Moutain.

Gillligan and Puffle...don't they make a cute couple? It is a little unclear who is the #1 boy in puffles world because she rubs up against both Billy and Gilligan with regularity. She just loves big dogs!

Today starts day 3 with Billy, our houseguest. I think both Tristan and my spirit is broken....He is like the energizer bunny with no off switch. Although I guess last night we had a decent sleep. Well until this morning when we woke up and someone (dog) piddled on our floor. We have wall to wall carpeting so this was no fun! And even worse, this is the second day in the row that one of our pets had incontinence issues. Yesterday we woke up to cat pee in our bed. We suspect Puffie but with three cats who might be a bit angry about our houseguest dog it really is anyone's guess who peed in our bed (or was it Tristan??). This morning's pee again could not be specifically attributed to a single dog however, it was obvious by the size/quantity it was a dog.

Well after clean up on aisle 2, Tristan and I decided to take the dogs to Sugarloaf for some hillwork (hey it gets me tired, it should get Billy tired right?). Tristan dropped Billy and I off at the base of the mountain, went to Waffle house with Gilligan to get us some breakfast and returned after Billy and I had done 3 laps. Sadly I think Gilligan must have pulled something because he struggled to get out of the car then just laid down. Even bribing him with Nutter butters did not incite him to get up. We ended up having Tristan carry him back to the car, then took Billy on an abreviated hike at Sugarloaf. Gilligan just slept/chilled in our Jeep while we did this. I think he might have missed out on the pets and affection he demands from other hikers but he did not miss the hiking.

After returning from our hike (including one section in which I stayed at the top, Tristan went to the bottom and we called Billy up and down the mountain 7 times at high rates of speed. I used to use this strategy with Gilligan's predessor Snowball, but Gilligan has never needed us to use the tired card. When we returned to the car we put Billy in the trunk (it's an SUV jeep, so it's not that bad) then we drove home. Upon getting home we decided to walk to the Washingtonian Rio for potbellies for lunch (they really need to sponsor me or at least give me a star on their wall because I am a frequent buyer there). We decided to take Billy with us to ensure he sleeps all of tonight. After we returned home, Tristan realized he lost a good winter/mountaineering glove. So he is now back at Sugarloaf (with Billy) trying to find his glove. By the end of today, Billy should have run/walked/hiked at least 10-15 miles. But this does not compare to tommorrows hike. We definitely will be going to White Oak Canyon tommorrow with him. Gilligan is going to sit this one out because I think his paw or hip is bothering him (we feel bad about this but I don't think Gilligan ever liked hiking, he does it grudgingly at best--so his injury/limp gets him out of it).

I suspect Tristan will not find his glove but on occasion Tristan has found his gloves a few hours later at various hiking places. Although many times he does not find his gloves...luckily good sales should be coming soon! And of course his birthday is on Sunday. I could either give him a new set of good gloves so he doesn't get frostbite on his hands or else I could get him a "Spot On", the satellite rescue beacon. Whatever I get him, I suspect it has about a 50% chance of being lost, dropped or falling out of his pack anyway:-(

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Best Christmas Gift(s) ever

Today I got the best Christmas gifts ever. Both were from my husband who I have been dropping hints for a long time. The first gift was the video "The Distance of Truth", a movie about the Badwater Race in 2005. It is an inspiring movie that provides more insight into the race which someday I hope to run. My second gift may enable this dream to become a reality...Southwest plane fares! This means I will be able to fly to many races that were on my radar but I might not otherwise have entered.

Already I have added Rocky Raccoon to my spring calendar to prepare for my 3rd Umstead 100 miler. And in the summer I will do Vermont 100. Finally I am going to do either an ironman or a 100 miler in the fall. This should strengthen my "running resume".

In addition to these awesome gifts, Tristan and I had a nice day. Although our day started out quite early with Billy waking up around 5 a.m. (which is fine on a workday but on a holiday he should appreciate sleeping in!!) We started out the day by having breakfast with my sister, dad and sisters friend Imelda at Cindy's condo in Reston. In the afternoon we returned home in hopes of tiring out Billy. We went for a ~5 mile run (with Tristan, Billy and I), 2 mile walk at a local park (Tristan, Billy, Gilligan and I) and an hour and a half at the dog park (Gilligan, Billy and I). By the end of all this activity Billy seemed to be slowing down. I base this on the observation that initially at the dog park Billy would run after dogs chasing things and run past them and circle around. At the end Billy would run after the dog but at about 70% of the way, he would start turning was obvious he was just "phoning it in"!

Tommorrow we will go on a long hike because a tired dog is a good dog. I think Gilligan likes hikes but even if he doesn't I think Gilligan does like Billy tired because Billy has alot of pent up energy he uses on everyone in the household. I can run 100 milers and I am exhausted by our houseguest. I guess it's good to be a puppy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Howl-o-days!

Santa Paws

Santa Claws
Mrs. Claws (well except she is Boo's half sister, oops!)

Powder (don't ask, don't tell, okay!)

Billy peering downstairs past Gilligan.

Happy Holidays!

Here are some pictures from today of our various pets (and one guest pet).

Gilligan looks happy about being Santa Paws, while Zaboo and Sagwa look less excited about being Santa Claws and Mrs Claws. Powder just got fixed (or is it broke?)/spayed on Monday so she is definitely not in the Christmas spirit (although her pain meds might be like a good strong Eggnog which of course makes the season brighter!)
Well, it's off to my sister's for dinner and Church.
Have a great day!

Houseguest for the Holidays

Gilligan barking and Billy oblivious. Gilligan has personal space issues (he likes to get in others personal space but hates it when others get in his space--this plays out daily with Powderpuff who stalks Gilligan and loves to be close to him...Powder is oblivious to his dislike of being close or else just doesn't care; I think the same is true for Billy)
Gilligan and Billy pretending to behave...I think they are hatching a plan to double team us! Or else they are appreciating the pictures on the wall of Maymont, which is the place where Tristan and I got married.

Last evening we accepted delivery of a houseguest for the Holidays: Billy. We have known for several weeks we are going to pet-sit Billy, a friends puppy. Billy is a huge Old English Sheepdog puppy with lots of energy. In fact, last night Tristan and I considered breaking out the hard liquor or tranquilizers to settle down (we debated: would it be a better idea to consume it ourselves or to give it to Billy?)

Over the past few weeks we warned Billy's family that our house is a mess (we live life to the fullest but our obituaries will probably not include the phrase "and they had cleanest house ever"). In fact the few people who have seen our house have commented that we probably should be nominated for the show "Clean Sweep" in which a professional organizing team comes in and declutters and tidys a house. Perhaps even a frat house would be neater then our house. The only statement I will make about our house is that all "dangerous" items are behind closed doors, in closed cabinets or not even in the house. When Billy's family dropped him off I think they were shocked. On a positive note, Billy seemed not to care:-)

Well, Billy fit right in to our family, although he did wimper a few times and occasionally looked for his family during the evening. Also I think he was a bit puzzled (and perhaps frightened) by our cats. By this morning this hesitancy related to the cats seemed to be over as I put a cat right in his face and neither animal seemed to care (immersion therapy is my tactic...I am like the dog whisperer except I am terrible at it and I don't go "psst" alot).

Last night Tristan walked Billy (solo--what a sissy Tristan is!). This meant he had to go out twice in some nasty weather; once for Billy and once for Gilligan. This morning I walked Billy with Gilligan (having been brought up with multiple dogs I figured I could pretend I had control of both of them--in fact it was a bit of anarchy on our walk, however, after Gilligan and I got dragged around a bit, but ultimately we did make it back to the house). My impression is that Billy is willing to go in the backyard to do his business; however, Gilligan needs a walk and an audience so I think we tend to walk both dogs (and build up our upper body carrying their poop:-).

This should be quite an adventure because I believe pound for pound, there is more dog in our house then person. For sure, there is more pet (both in count and weight) in our house then person. I sure hope they do not form some crazy pet alliance and vote us out of the house in the next week.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hill Training at Sugarloaf Mountain and a Family walk at Great Falls

My sister, Cindy and I at Great Falls. Notice the water is quite high...we have had several days of rain; however it is not at flood stage (nor even close)

Gilligan deciding if he will go with Tristan (hiking) or stay with me (running). I think he would have preferred the choice of "staying in the car" but that option was not included in his decision tree!
A self portrait running down Sugarloaf. This was my 2nd lap up the mountain and actually it was a pleasant day to run up and down, up and down.

Gilligan escaping from Tristan off the trail to join me in my jogging. Guess it is obvious who Gilligan's favorite is, isn't it???
Tristan and Gilligan at the start of our hike (again you can see Gilligan is pulling to get to his "favorite" parent)

Today Tristan and I went to Sugarloaf Mountain so I could get a hill workout in preparation of VT100 (?) and he could get ready for his June mountaineering trip up Mt Rainier. We only climbed up and down the mountain for 2 hours (he used the trail, I used the road), so we did not go that far; however, we had more activity in the afternoon when we met up with my sister and my dad at Great Falls for a little more hiking/walking.

The day was pretty nice temperature-wise for both running and hiking. It was a bit overcast; however, after 4 out of the last 7 days having rain, it was a nice change.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Critters Pictures

Gilligan and his "girlfriend" Powder Puff Girl (aka Puffi). Puffi loves Gilligan so much that I would almost suggest she stalks him. They are quite the pair.
Sagwa and Zaboomafoo (aka Boo or Zaboo) chilling and looking cute.

Gilligan taking a moment to savor and enjoy the moment earlier this fall. I think next time I am tired in an ultramarathon I will assume this position!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Pictures from the Las Vegas Marathon 2008

With the "Running Elvi" at the Run through Wedding Chapel about mile 8 on the it true that "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas??" I did not marry either, but wouldn't getting married to two Elvi during a marathon be an awesome story?
At the Las Vegas Marathon sign along the course...if only this was the finishline!

Approaching the finish taking a self portrait (oddly enough even though there were 10,000+ runners I finished pretty much all alone just like I did at Death Valley with 300 runners!)
With Elvis and Showgirls right after I finished the marathon

Savoring my victory in running a "Double" in the Excalibur Whirlpool after the marathon. It was really nice and relaxing (although not as good as the Death Valley warm spring fed pool)