Reunited and it Feels so Good...

Nicole shows off a travel guide book of Costa Rica. For those who don't know, we met on a flight from DC to Costa Rica...but then that's another story.

I am extremely excited to visit Nicole in Thailand later this week. I will get some good photos of our adventures to share with everyone. I really don't have any other words to describe how ready I am to be reunited with the love of my life. It will be awesome to share in a slice of what has been her life for the past month and a half.

Desert Solitaire

With three days left in the month I hit my goal of 100 trail miles for June. 101.8 to be exact, and probably a few more today to top it off. I still don't feel like a runner or necessarily identify myself as such. It still seems new a year later. I wonder if that will ever change. All I know is that I love moving up and down mountains and I am going to keep doing it.

Yesterday was another training run on the Mt. Disappointment course up in the San Gabriel Mountains. It was hot hot hot at 90 degrees in the shade and who knows what in the direct sun. I feel surprisingly good today after beating myself up proper yesterday.

Trail to 1000 update
478.1 miles in 178 days for a 2.69 miles per day pace (2.74 mpd goal for 1000)

And then there are those who run 100 miles at a time...

Congrats to Hal Koerner for winning the Western States 100 mile endurance run two times in a row, and to Anita Ortiz for winning what I think was her first attempt at a 100 miler. Awesome achievement by them as well as everyone who towed the line.

Desert Solitaire


Please Don't Close the Parks...

Last Sunday I joined a large group of other outdoor enthusiasts at Will Rogers State Park. The event was organized by the fantastic Trail Runners Club and was put together to help bring awareness to California State Parks. Basically, it is VERY real possibility that most (over 200) of the CA state parks will lose funding and close. This includes all of the State Parks in the Santa Monica Mountains...where I log most of my miles. Ouch.

You can find plenty of information regarding this issue with a quick Google search or start here. Below is a photo of a recent hike Benton and I took in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Following is the email response I received from the Governor. Don't sugar coat it Arnold, you plan to close the parks. I hear you loud and clear.

Thank you for writing to me about funding for our state parks system. Your input is important to me during these challenging times.

California's natural beauty is renowned throughout the world, and I have made it my priority to protect our environment so future generations of Californians can continue to experience and enjoy what we have all come to love. Our state parks provide a fantastic introduction to the California experience and help bring our residents and visitors closer to our landscapes.

Unfortunately, the state cannot continue to bear the costs of supporting every program. Believe me when I say that these cuts have been the hardest decisions of my career as Governor, but we are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Our revenues for the coming year are at least 27 percent below where they were projected to be just two short years ago. We now face a shortfall that has grown to $24.3 billion, and the people of California have made their voice clear: they want the state to live within its means and solve its problems through spending cuts and not tax increases.

To help manage our budget shortfall, I have proposed eliminating General Fund support for the Department of Parks and Recreation. I understand that these cuts will impact not only the lives of our park employees but the millions of park visitors who visit these national treasurers every year. In spite of these General Fund cuts, though, I will work to keep as many parks open as possible with funding from user fees. It may require raising entry and camping fees, expanding partnerships with local government and non-profit groups, and seeking additional creative ways to support our system in the future.

As I work with my partners in the Legislature to find solutions to these problems, know I will keep your thoughts in mind. Working together, I believe we can weather this storm and start the slow but steady march back toward prosperity.


Arnold Schwarzenegger


And then there is Dean...

Yes. The weekend. That means long runs. Tomorrow, probably the last installment (for a while) of Angeles National Forest. Sunday I'm doing this run to support CA State Parks, then perhaps the farmers market/beach.

Two weeks until I get to see Nicole in Thailand. Nice.

Recently I watched UltraMarathon Man 50 Marathons • 50 States • 50 Days. Dean Karnazes. He puts in big miles, he has inspired many to run, and he is passionate about what he is doing. He has raised awareness about the obvious and tragic obesity problem with children and raised money for charities. Oh, and not to take anything away from Dean, but Sam Thompson (Appalachian Trail thru-hiker alumni) completed 51 marathons in 50 days a few months before him. I believe both are now sponsored by the North Face. The trailer below is about 6 minutes long, but really good.

Tech news.

Google is coming out with a seemingly simple, yet revolutionary way to communicate. Google Wave.

In other tech news, the iPhone 3G S is out and has people lining up everywhere. The 3.0 software update was also recently released and it pretty awesome.



The Air Up There...

Yesterday was National Get Outdoors Day. I did just that. For the third or fourth weekend in a row I headed up to the San Gabriels in Angeles National Forest to run on the Mt. Disappointment course. The weather on the drive up the mountains was delightful.

It was a misty foggy rain that left visibility quite poor. The temperatures were chilly as well once I got soaked through. It wasn't too bad a few miles in once I generated some heat and even dried out a bit. The challenging part was trying to follow a course I had never run without being able to see landmarks. Occasionally the view would open up a bit, but in many areas I couldn't see 50 feet in front of me. The highlight of the run? The climb up Mt. Wilson takes you up a 2600 foot climb in the last few of the 31.5 miles. Nasty. I was only running half of the course and that climb was challenging. It's steep and goes on forever. People joke about the 50k times on this course looking like 50 mile times. It's no joke. Especially on race day pounded by the brutal heat of early August in Southern California.

Trail to 1000 update:
164 days in
201 days to go
431.8 trail miles run
568.2 miles to go
2.63 miles per day [current average]
2.74 miles per day [goal]

Also, I am still shooting for the 100 mile month of June.
13 days in
17 days to go
55.5 trail miles run
44.5 miles to go

One of the biggest challenges of these goals is finding time to put in miles. The weekend long run involves 3 hours of driving, preparation time (gas the car, gather nutrition needs for during and after, plan a route to run, etc.), and at least 3-4 hours of running. The rest of the miles get crammed in after work but can't go too long so I can get home and take care of the dogs...not to mention eat dinner myself. Still, if it weren't important to me I wouldn't do it. It's worth every minute and ounce of energy. It would be harder for me not to run. Some of you will think that is crazy...and some of you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.


The Grand Palace was indeed, Grand

Dear Dave,
The Grand Palace was the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok. The present King of Thailand, King Rama IX, however, resides at a new palace that I'm not allowed to visit.

It was beautiful, the detail was unexplainable. My office mate Kung (who I adore) came with me and we had a wonderful time. She said most Thai children go to the Grand Palace in Elementary school. Not quite like going to Mystic Seaport like I had to as a kid. Only 3 weeks until you visit! Love, Nicole


An Evening with The Tragically Hip...

The Tragically Hip. What can I say about this epic Canadian rock band? I can say they are very talented musicians, have 12 albums to their credit, a boatload of Juno's (Canadian Music Awards), and an extremely loyal fanbase.

Below is the song "Love is a First" off the new album "We Are the Same". It was amazing live, but I decided no video does this band justice so I only posted the studio music.

The Hip played three nights in a row to sold out audiences in West Hollywood this week. I was fortunate enough to take in one of the performances. At the risk of going on and on about the band, the show, etc. I'll do my best to keep this post brief. Give the songs a quick listen, if you like them great, if not...I guess that's okay too.

Geez, this song is 15 years old? "Nautical Disaster" off of the album "Day For Night". They didn't play it the other night, but here it is anyway. I remember when it came out and it doesn't feel like THAT long ago.

I have seen the Hip around 10 or so times, but not for a couple years now and never on the west coast. I didn't know what to expect. Well, it was amazing. I was front and center in a great crowd. I met around 5 people from my hometown of Buffalo, NY and everyone else I met was Canadian (most now living in LA). The Troubador is a tiny venue holding about 500 people, which is fine by me. A great intimate performance.

There was no opening band, which is often the case for Hip shows. Usually this is billed as "An Evening with The Tragically Hip". They played a full set, then came back out and played a couple of acoustic songs...followed by another full set and two encores. All said and done it was nearly 3 hours of sonic bliss.

Below are a couple more pictures I took with my phone.

Gord belts it out...

stage left...

stage right...

set list #1...full list of the songs from the show can be found here

That is all.


Sky Train: Literally the coolest way to get around Bangkok

I have found a new love, the Sky Train. I rode the Washington, DC metro for many, many, many, many years. We had a love/hate relationship. Not that it wasn't clean, and that they didn't try real hard to not break down all the time. It's just that in my experience, DC Business people are MEAN. I would always come up the escalator from the metro feeling like I wanted to punch somebody. Great way to start the day. I have been pushed, squished, yelled at and even had some inapropriate things done to me on the Metro when it was jam packed full of people that I'd rather not discuss outside the privacy of my own home.

Enter the glorious BTS Sky train, the public transportation of Bangkok. A city of 8 million people! You'd think their train would be crowded ...nope. The train comes on time, frequently, has TV's and is air conditioned perfectly! It's cheap, efficient and a comfortable ride. You can even buy a smiling pillow version of the train on the website as seen in the picture above. Seriously sweet.

Thank you Sky Train, you have restored my faith again in public transportation. You speak to me in Thai and in English, and your cheap to ride. A girl couldn't ask for more.


Ring of Fire...

I hope everyone had a good National Trails Day yesterday. As you probably know, wildfires in this area are not uncommon, and are most frequently caused by humans. Sometimes these fires are not accidents such as the Esperanza wildfire in Riverside, California in October, 2006. This fire claimed the lives of five firefighters. It also destroyed 70 square miles of land. Two days ago the man arrested and charged with starting the fire was sentenced to death. Read more here.

Less than a month before I go to see Nicole. That will be pretty excellent.

The rest of the day (geez, it's only 9 a.m.?) is for long dog walks, farmers market, perhaps some ocean swimming...bye now.


One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster...

Dear Dave,
Here are some of the random cool things about Bangkok so far:

1. Pink Taxi Cabs Now I just need a Barbie Dream House. Sometimes they have pink interiors too! Cabs here also come in bright orange, blue, yellow and a lovely green and yellow combo. Drivers put cool things on their dash.

2. Really Good Inexpensive Food
Sometimes it freaks me when the bill says that I owe 300 baht, but then I remember that 300 baht is only about $8. Eight bucks for a nice big plate of sushi? amazing! Tonight I had some edamame, and some tempura shrimp. It was TASTY. I hope you still love me when I come back a little BIGGER...

3. President Bush Graffiti
I think I saw him when we lived in DC as well, but I see him randomly all over the city. I don't understand how he made it to Thailand. I personally like the elephant next to him!

4. Night Swimming
I went for a swim tonight, it was beautiful out. Hot but breezy. Nobody else was at the pool so I just enjoyed the night and thought about how much fun we are going to have when you come for a visit. I can't wait to night swim with you.

There are a few things that Bangkok is missing that if it had would make it perfect. They are:

I miss you. Love, Nicole


One Hundred the Easy Way...

Yeah, another running post.

My body is giving me the green light to push bigger miles on my long runs and so I am looking forward to some solid runs up in Angeles National Forest over the next month or so. The plan is to get in a solid month of June on the trails of 100+ miles. The disclaimer here is that plenty of people out there who throw down 100+ miles A WEEK. Oh, and there will be an awesome group of people this weekend competing in the San Diego 100. Yeah, that's a 100 mile run. Yes all at once. Awesome.

In early July I will be in Thailand to see my beloved, so I have scoped out some parks to run while she is at work. I would have run a "gasp" road marathon if there were one while I am there, but no dice. It's so hot there that the early start for their marathons is something like 2 a.m. to beat the heat.

When I return to the states I have one more big week of trails before the taper starts. It is common practice to "taper" or cut back your training in the time leading to a goal event or race. This gives your body time to repair itself from the beating you have been giving it so that you have maximum strength and reserves for, well, beating it up again.

Movie commentaries (mini -reviews) and why I put in a few miles a week of barefoot outdoor walking coming up in future posts.

Until then...get outside!

Oh, if you haven't heard of the Decemberists, give them a listen. I'm digging their latest The Hazards of Love.