Monday, December 14, 2009

Shellburg Falls Trail Run

I ran my first race in more than a year this past weekend. The Shellburg Falls 10k was pretty low key, and “just” a 10k (and I don’t mean to denigrate 10k’s, but ultra distances are more to my liking), but a great course and a lots of fun.

I only decided for certain to run this just the day before, still unsure whether my leg was healthy enough to “race” on, even though I’d had some really good runs of 10+ miles while in New Zealand. But the race was free, Pain Train had been trying to talk me into checking out the Shellburg Falls trails for more than a year, and Luvin’ offered to pick me up and do the driving. So off to the races it was.

I told myself, and others, that I was going to run SLOWLY, and aim for last place. In reality I didn’t know what I’d do. I hadn’t tried to run fast all year, but I’d managed to push it a bit when running up hills and was fairly confident I could do that without risking injury. For whatever reason, the uphills have been much better on my leg than flats sections or down hills. I asked Mike about the course on the drive in, and found out, roughly, that the first couple miles were mostly flat or down hill, then the middle section had a long, tough climb, and the end was mostly downhill again. So I figured I’d run really conservatively for the first section, then if I felt OK I’d try to push it a bit on the uphill, and after that, just wing it.

I took a good long warm-up, jogging really slowly and walking up a hill or two. I’ve found my leg does a lot better if I start with an easy warm-up, followed by some stretching. So that’s what I did, and it seemed to work out OK. The race started a few minutes after nine. As planned, I started off easy – probably a bit too easy. Within a half mile or so we came to a creek crossing with two options – a narrow foot bridge (clogged by runners crossing one at a time) or getting your feet wet. I chose the latter – actually an easy choice, despite the cold temps – as my shoes were already soaked prior to that start. (I’d gone for a run my last day in New Zealand, in a heavy rain. I threw them in a plastic bag before packing them… and of course I didn’t take them out of the bag until race morning). From there the course moved into single track, and began a long, easy, fun descent. I was feeling good and moving well, but It was sort’ve tough passing people on the single track, making me think perhaps I’d started a bit too slowly. On the other hand, maybe that was a good thing.

At the bottom of the hill, the course ran along a forest road for a while, past a waterfall below us, and back onto single track. The single track pass behind another waterfall (really cool!) an climbed a good bit on the other side before passing the water station on the other side. I didn’t get any water, but did toss my jacket to Dennis, who’d come out to watch with his wife, who was running the race.
A short flat section brought us to the big climb. I was feeling pretty good – though breathing pretty hard – but stuck with my plan to see if I could push it on the climb. At the bottom there were 4 or 5 in a line walking the steep bit. I redlined it a bit to work past the group (which included Guy and Gaby from Corvallis), and suffered for a few minutes after that while the ascent continued.

At one point a group of people in front went left (on the logging road) while I went right (on the trail). I wasn’t 100% sure I’d gone the right way – but pretty sure. I tried to holler but they didn’t hear – and it looked pretty much like the trail and road would merge again anyway, so I didn’t worry much about it. They did eventually merge – much further up the hill than I expected – and I had chosen the right path. But I don’t think it made much difference, time wise, whether one took the road or trail. When the road merged back with the trail, there was one guy who got back on course about 20 yards in front of me. Not that I really cared if I’d missed the turn, but I decided I’d do my best to pass him and beat him to the finish, just so I didn’t have any reason to whine about anyone going off course and beating me. I was pretty tired from the climb, so I go within maybe 10 yards of him, and then just stayed there for a while, letting him set the pace and have the stress of being chased. After a while he must’ve gotten sick of being chased, as he stepped aside to let me pass, than fell in behind me. I didn’t want him to think he could hang with me, so I pushed really hard for a few minutes to build a bit of a gap between us.

From here the course joined a logging road again for a long, flat to slightly uphill section. The guy behind me wasn’t yet too far back, and I could see another guy dressed in powder blue shorts maybe 100 yards ahead of me, and another not far ahead of him. I didn’t know if I could catch them – but I figured if I could stay in contact until the downhill, I’d have a chance. At my best I’m not a bad downhill runner - not that I’m at my best right now – but I figured if the two in front were roadies and the downhill was good and technical, I’d have a shot. On the flat I pretty much stayed on pace with them, and put some distance between me and the guy behind me. My leg felt great, and my lungs weren’t totally spent, so I went into full chase mode once we hit the downhill. Three or four times I found myself getting within striking distance of Powder blue, who wasn’t far back from the next guy – only to see them put on a good burst and pull back ahead. Each time I thought I’d lost them for good, only to find myself gaining again, and then have them pull away again.
Finally I finished the trail and dropped onto the last section of logging road, which I knew from my warmup was only a few hundred yards from the finish line. To my amazement, I was once again within striking distance of the two in front of me. In hindsight, they may have been playing a bit of cat and mouse with each other, each trying to save something for a final kick, which allowed me to repeatedly catch back up. As soon as I thought I had a chance, I went all on an all out kick. I gained a bit, and got within maybe ten yards, by which time they’d gone into a kick as well, and showed they both definitely had more left in the tank than I. I tried to stay with them, but couldn’t hold on, and they finished 6 and 8 seconds ahead of me, respectively. I was so blown that I didn’t even notice who beat who to the finish line.

I ended up in 20th place out of ~130 starters. Not bad I guess, though nothing spectacular, especially in a low key event where most people aren’t “racing”. And while I really wasn’t concerned about where I finished, it was still fun to get competitive and “race” against others and push hard, especially near the end. I think that makes sense. And it was sure fun to run hard again, and make it hurt in a GOOD way. It’ll be even more fun when I’m in shape for it. Hopefully my leg continues to improve over the winter so I can race a lot more in 2010!

New Zealand!

It had been far too long since we visited New Zealand (Jasmine’s home country!), but we finally made it back, spending nearly 3 ½ weeks there. Pictures can be found here: .

We flew in and spent a couple days in Auckland, then drove our rental car South, making stops to see Jasmine’s great aunt Dorothy (88 years young!), then visiting the geysers, hot mud pools, and the lake at and around Rotorua, just like real tourists.

From there we drove to Lake Taupo, where we me met up with Jasmine’s dad and Shirley at a “holiday batch” (a “cabin” in Minnesotan) owned by Shirley’s family. The batch was terrific, and within walking distance of the lake. Lake Taupo is also a short distance from Tongariro National Park, which boasts “the best one day hike in New Zealand”, the Tongariro Crossing. Imagine a trail crossing the three sisters wilderness from east to west or vice versa – it’s kind’ve like that. I think. For Jasmine and I, however, it was mostly inside a cloud and really, really, REALLY windy and cold. Surrounding the peaks and high plateaus of the crossing it was actually a nice, albeit breezy day. But high the on crossing itself, the weather was just insane. Visibility was maybe 20 feet at times. Rime ice formed as tho fog froze onto our clothes, and up on highest ridges, the wind nearly knocked us over. It was as “fun” as any alpine adventure I can recall, in that respect. At one point we were following a ridge, not knowing what was to our right, below the drop. I just sort’ve figured we were on the edge of a valley. Then for an instant we could see waves below us, then they disappeared back into the fog. Pretty weird feeling. A few hours hike brought us to the descent on the far side, and eventually we dropped back below the clouds and were treated to a nice view of Lake Taupo from high above. We stopped for a snack at the hut, maybe 3 miles from the finish. The hut was full of hikers, mostly young Scandinavian women. Sometimes crowded hikes aren’t all that unpleasant, afterall. J Eventually Jasmine dragged me from the hut and we continued down. Eventually we dropped below the alpine grasslands into thick forest, featuring tall fern trees and other flora that seemed almost tropical to me. It was cool to walk from the frozen, high alpine wasteland into thick, green, warm forest.

We spent a few more days at the batch, highlighted by a visit from Jasmine’s high school friend Bridgitt, who served as tour guide and entertainment (as she did again a few days later when we visited her near her home in Wellington). Other highlights of the Taupo portion of our trip included: throwing hundreds of pumice stones into the lake, carving pumice stones into shapes and throwing them into the lake, sticking sticks into pumice stones and throwing them into the lakes, and sticking two pumice stones together with a stick and throwing them into the lake. I can’t overstate how much fun this really was. Another outrageously fun time was had when Avery and I decided to redirect a small creek. It was a small, warm water creek that flowed into the Huka river at a nice little sand and rock beach. Avery and I, through considerable time and effort, redirected that last 10 feet or so about three feet to the right, creating a new channel through the beach into the river. Good fun.

After Taupo we spent a could days and night in Wellington, the capitol of New Zealand. To economize a bit, we stayed at a Youth Hostel. I think this was Avery’s favorite place to sleep, because she got to sleep on the top bunk of a bunkbed. Wellington was a great museum where we spent half day and got to see the preserved remains of a giant squid (the largest living squid ever caught). It was pretty big, but not huge. It was pretty gross too, truth be told.

We dropped off the rental car in Wellington and took the ferry across to the South Island where we met back up with Derek and Shirley. We spent the next 5 or 6 days at Tuna Bay in the Marlborough sounds, at the house Jasmine considered “home” while in high school. Tuna Bay and the surrounding area is a wonderful place, with a very few houses, beautiful and sheltered bays where we did lots of sea kayaking, and native forests where we did lots of hiking.

I did quite a bit of running on the local trails as well. My favorite run of the trip (and of 2009, now that I think of it) was a run from Penzance Bay (just a hundred yards or so up from Tuna Bay) up the “power-line trail” which climbed well over 1000 feet from the sea, ambled along a high rolling traverse for a while, then dropped over to Elaine Bay (the “next” town along the coast, to the North of Penzance Bay), and then back along the “Archer Track” which follows the winding coastline back to Penzance Bay. The run took about 2 hours, plus some added time to stop and take pictures and admire the views of forests and sea. It would have taken at least twice that long to drive to Elaine Bay and back, as there are simply no roads directly connecting the two bays.

Another highlight from Tuna bay was Sea Kayaking. Shirley’s family has a pair of sea kayaks that we were fortunate enough to be lent. On the windy days with choppy water, this was a ton of fun. On the one morning where we had calm, glassy ocean, it was spectacular. There are endless bays, beaches, and rocky coastlines to explore. One day we encountered lots of huge stingrays that we chased around from the safety of our kayaks. Another day we paddled through waters filled with hundreds and hundreds of purple jellyfish.

And of course I can’t forget Jasmine’s trip down memory lane, as she sorted through box after box of stuff saved from her high school and university years in New Zealand. She spent hours sorting trash from treasure, condemning the trash to the fire. More than a few teenage love letters didn’t make the cut – a fact I took a guilty pleasure in as I watched smoke rise from behind the house as I paddled a kayak in the bay out front.

The last leg of our trip was spent in and around Nelson, with a side overnight trip to Golden Bay and Abel Tasman national park. Derek and Shirley recently moved into a new, really nice, smaller house that’s part of a larger retirement community. They’ve really got it good. They’ve also got some great hills right behind town in which I was able to get in a couple great runs. The forest reminded me of Mac forest in Corvallis, in that it was used for both logging and recreation, and the hills were on the same scale. Beyond the front range of hills (the Barnicoat range), however, one could pretty much continue on trails for hundreds of miles, into range after range of increasingly high and rugged peaks. But I enjoyed just the small slice that I got to explore near Nelson

Our side trip to Abel Tasman and Golden bay was blessed by warm, beautiful weather. The first day we took a sea taxi into the national park, were dropped off along the Abel Tasman track, and then picked back up a few hours later at another bay, 8 km down the track. Avery and I started the hike barefoot, having removed our shoes for the taxi drop off in a foot or so of water. Before long we were locked in a contest, to see who could continue to hike the longest without shoes. I lasted maybe 3 miles before I gave up. Avery was still going strong. It was a hoot seeing the reaction on other hikers faces to our bare feet, while they were clad in heavy, burly hiking boots.

Our last Sunday in New Zealand was our last day of perfect weather, and we seized the opportunity to hike on Mt Arthur, a roughly 6000 foot peak in another National Park. The road in was as exciting as the hike, being insanely steep, and narrow, with huge drop offs to the grassy sheep farms below. Jas, Avery and I first hiked up to the Mt Arthur hut, which took a bit over an hour. They stayed there for a couple hours reading, watching birds, and enjoying the views and the sunshine, while I jogged and power hiked to the summit and back. This was a blast – some of the best mountain running I’ve ever gotten to do, as the trail rose in a series of steps, then traversed gently along high ridges between the steps. Near the summit there was a bit of easy scrambling and a good sized snowfield to cross, which completed the high, alpine feeling of the hike. I managed to pass all the other hikers on the way up, and had the summit to myself for a few minutes. I had a perfect 360 degree view: rugged mountain chain extending to the horizons in three directly, with Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson in the other. In the distance I could even see Mt Egmont (a.k.a. Mt Taranaki) on the North Island.

After hiking/running back down to the hut, I convinced Jasmine and Avery to hike just a few hundred feet above the hut, which brought to a high point along the ridge, above treeline, and offered a 360 degree view nearly as good as that I enjoyed on the summit. We lounged around there for an hour or more, enjoyed a the sun and the warm rocks. Finally we dragged ourselves away, and enjoyed a long down to the Flora hut through native beech forest, and then completed a loop with a mile or so of uphill, back to our starting point.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Runs, Running, & Stuff

Big congrats to my buddy, and local trailmeister, Sander for throwing down a stellar 18.01.24 and taking 5th place at the first [annual?] mt hood 100 mile race ("Hundred in Da Hood"), on the Pacific Crest trail between Mt Hood and Mt Jeferson. It was fun to see him cruise through at mile 70, where I was helping out at an aid station run by a bunch of the local Corvallis runners.

Working the aid station was lots of fun, but more than anything it left me wanting to RUN another 100 miler! By about midnight, after copius amounts of beer and "Rock Star" energy drinks (did I mention that working an aid station is a LOT of fun?), I could barely stand it, so I decided to run up the trail a bit, meet a few runners, and "run" them back into the aid station. "Run" in this case meant a fast hike, since these were mostly back-of-the-pack runners at mile 70. But it sure felt great to get out there with them, and I think the few runners I met were happy for it as well. On the last trip out I found my friend Linda pacing another runner for a few miles (the runner she had been pacing dropped, so she was helping a different runner for a few miles), so I hiked with them a while back to the aid station. Linda wanted to Pace the runner to the next aid station (3.5 miles up the trail) where he was to pick up a pre-arranged pacer to the finish. Linda volunteered to pace him to the next aid station so he'd have some company during the night miles, and I volunteered to tag along, and then run with Linda the 3.5 miles back to our aid station (so Linda didn't have to run back alone... and mostly because I thought it sounded like fun!). So I got to do another 7 miles, from about 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM, on a stunningly beatiful, starry night through the high alpine forests. That was a blast.

During the run I couldn't help but wish I was actually in the race. I would've liked nothing more than to run/hike/crawl all night to the finish line. Next year...some race, some where... yeah!

After the race I crashed on a cot next to the fire, under the stars. In the 5 minutes I stayed awake, I think I saw about 6 shooting stars. A cool end to a cool day!

So, if you've read this, yes, I'm running again! My calf finally seems to be healing. I'm running a few times a week, and every week I'm feeling stronger, and more confident in it. I've got a long way to go to get back to 100%, but finally, FINALLY, I'm making progress. In July I couldn't jog a flat mile without my calf seizing up, and I'd be sore for a week. In August I managed to push it to a couple miles. Today (end of September) I ran about 7.5 hilly trail miles and actually forgot about my calf for a while and just enjoyed it... I just RAN... until I was tired... and loved it.

Like I said... a LONG way to go still... and I'm going to be super careful to add miles gradually and not hurt myself. Right now my "goal" is to get to November as strong or stronger than I am now, so that when we visit New Zealand in November (did I mention we're spending most of November in New Zealand!??) I can go for lots of runs, "tramps", etc.

While I was off helping at the race, Jasmine was selling her art at the Corvallis Fall festival. She had a stellar weekend selling FOUR paintings in two days! Very cool. Congrats to Jasmine. :-) Also, my sources have leaked some info to me suggesting that she bought me a ring to replace the one that was lost to the Willamette river while we floated it some weeks ago. So that's cool. :-)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Don't mess with Jasmine!

Hope she's not thinking of me....

I told her she should've used the Karate Kid move for this one:

Take that, board!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hiking and Biking

On Sunday Avery, Jas, and I went to Silver Falls state park, and did the full trail-of-ten falls hike (about 5.5 miles). Here's a fall-by-fall countdown:

Upper North Falls:

North Falls:

Twin Falls:

Winter Falls:

Middle North Falls:

Drake Falls:

Double Falls:

Lower North Falls:

Lower South Falls:

South Falls:

Last Friday, Vic, Chris, Julius and I took the afternoon off and headed out to Falls City for some mountain biking fun. Julius brought his helmet cam:

Good Times!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Free Beer and Hobbits

Not much writing lately... spring has finally *really* sprung, and I've been doing lots of gardening mountain biking, and just generally enjoying being outside. We're just now trying to figure out how to spend our upcoming 3 day weekend. It's supposed to be 70's and sunny all weekend long. Whoo hoo!

On the running front - well, no running for me these days. I'm being good about following doctor's advice. This time. I've been going to physical therepy once per week, and doing lots of strength building / balance / stretching stuff so that someday soon I'll be running again, better than ever. I evened signed up for a Yoga class, which starts in June. Last weekend was the Mac 50k race, our cool local ultramarathon, here in town. It was a bummer not to be running. Instead, I volunteered, working at an aid station, then later in the day handing out the souvenier beers that all the finishers received. I'm not sure how I ended up with that job! Due to OSU forest regulations, the beers couldn't be handed out on university property. So the race directors had us set up at a roadside pullout near the junction with the highway. We looked pretty shifty, I imagine, hanging out on the side of the road with a car full of beer.

In other news, we're booked a trip to New Zealand this fall! Jasmine's a Kiwi, according to her passport. :-) We haven't been back to see her home country in years, and Avery has never been there, so we're all pretty excited already. We're looking forward to visiting family, and having some fun adventures in a beautiful place.

And finally, in honor of New Zealand (where the Hobbits and all those Lord of the Rings types live):

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Down and Out for 2009

My calf is still giving me fits, unfortunately. I took six weeks off of running, but my first mile after that was pretty much as bad as my last mile six weeks ago. And so have all the 2 and 3 mile runs since then.
It's been 6 months since I first had the "weird pain in my calf" (that's what I wrote in my training log). I haven't been quite right since, but I kept feeling like I was a week or two away from being healthy.
Today I saw an orthopedic/sports medicine doctor, finally. She was really cool - she's a runner (marathoner), biker, and mountaineer, and even had a Ukranian name, so I figured she'd be the right person. She told me that calf strains are notorious for taking longer to heal than one expects, and need to be carefully nursed back into health, and that what I'm going through is pretty normal for distance runners, and understandably frustrating.

My calf isn't terrible, but in the process of healing, I've developed a big, nasty, tight knot in my calf, and I've lost quite a bit of range of motion in my achilles/ calf, making me a poster child for recurrent calf injury. Rest alone hasn't really worked. So my new doc prescribed a rehab regimen guided by a local clinic, and I start that tomorrow. It should include some deep tissue massage, stretching, and strengthening, along with core work and other stuff. She also suggested improving my balance (she did a 10 second balance test, and said I wasn't that good... and as an ultramarathoner I had zero margin for error). Hopefully after all of this I'll be better than ever. That'd make a "lost year" of running worth it, I guess.

The bad news: no running or serious hiking for at least two months. On top of six months already of lousy running. And then a really slow return to running. So like I said, basically a lost year as far as serious running / racing goes. But I can bike, use the elliptical trainer, and water jog (good cross training but the most mind-numbingly dull activity on earth, according to my doc), in the meantime. She also suggested Yoga, which I may give a try. And sitting on the couch drinking beer. (my doc didn't specifically recommend that, but I inferred it).

I was pretty bummed about it, but my friend Linda (runner extrodonaire and mother of two) told me to think of it like a time out for a pregnancy. She got faster both times after giving birth, so hopefully I'll get faster, eventually, too. That's a good thought, though I don't think (but can't say for sure) that my calf strain had the same root cause as her pregnancies. :-)

Friday, March 13, 2009


The last four months have been incredibly frustrating, running-wise. I've been having persistent, but never too-serious, pain in my shin, calf, achilles tendon, IT band, etc. I kept thinking I'm just a couple weeks from feeling 100%.... but 100% just never seemed to come. Unless I took a hearty dose of advil or Alleve, but that never seemed right. Finally, I realized I hadn't run without some issue for four freakin' months! So I bit the bullet and actually went to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor!

Anyway, this morning I had an MRI, and this afternoon my doctor called and left a message, with lots of big words ("torn lateral and medial head of the gastrocnemius") describing muscles in my calf, telling me, in simpler terms, I had torn my calf muscle at some point, and as I hadn't stopped running long enough to let it heal, it hadn't healed.

Looking back, it's pretty clear I tore it the week before I tried to run the Javelina 100. I wrote in my training log "five miles... really tight calf!?!" I hurt it on an easy five miler during my taper.... what the??? I must've done something before that. I dunno. Anyway, I managed 30 miles at Javelina before dropping out. I guess that's OK on a torn calf, eh? Since then I've taken a week off here, a couple weeks there, then tried to run again, feeling OK for a week or two, before pushing it a bit, then having a setback.

I was told today I need to take a full 6 weeks off completely from running to let me calf heal. I guess it's OK. I sort've knew I needed to stop to heal, but I knew I was too stubborn to do it, unless a Doctor actually told me I needed to do it. It's been a week since I ran last, so I figure it's only a five week sentence, anyway.

The diagnosis sure explains a lot. My shin splints were due to tight calves... my tight achilles due to tight calves.... duh!

At least I'm still allowed to bike. Thank goodness for that... or I'd go crazy! Especially as springtime is in full swing here in Oregon.

Six weeks isnt' that long I guess. I'll still have four months to get ready for the Cascade Crest 100. I hope I can do that. Bummer I'll have to miss all the "spring classics" here in Oregon - Peterson Ridge (I loved that course last year.... I can't wait untill 2010 now to do the full course!), and of course the Mac 50k. Oh well....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 Running Plans

My running goal for the year: Finish another 100 mile race, at least 0:51:10 faster than last year, with ~5500 feet more elevation gain and loss than last year's run. Time to get busy.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year

Long time, no blog...

I've been on vacation from work the last two weeks, and we've managed to squeeze in lots of fun and adventure over the holidays.

On the Friday before X-mas, Avery's school was closed due to snow, but by noon the roads were fine, so we headed out on our trip to Victoria, Canada. One thing about Canada I learned is that it's a cold, snowy, frozen wasteland kind of place. At least, it was while we were there. On the TV news the anchor said that 100% of Canada was covered in snow, say it in the same matter-of-fact tone that a Phoenix weatherman would mention it's "sunny in the desert". Despite the fact that Canada is a frozen tundra, we had a good time. Avery got to go ice skating for the first time. At the famous Butchart gardens, they had the whole place decked out in x-mas lights, and had an outdoor ice rink set up. We all rented skates, and enjoyed an hour of skating, while heavy snow began to fall. It was quite the Norman Rockwell occasion. Less Rockwell-esque was trying to drive back into town in the developing blizzard. Nothing says holiday cheer less than freezing one's fingers while trying to attach tire chains, after getting stuck trying to ascend a Canadian hill.

But Victoria was nice. And the food was good. And the drive back to Oregon was easy, except for the six hours or so that it took us to travel the 30 miles or so from Portland to Salem (again with the tire chains). By about 9:00 pm we were starved and needed a potty break, and finally came across an open place - a meat intensive fast-food chain restaurant (not our typical style, being plant and dairy types). Avery enjoyed cheese nachos and a chocolate chip cookie. I had some sort of allegedly bean based burrito. My insides paid for it over the next several days.

But we made it home for x-mas. It was nice. Santa came and did his thing. Avery got lots of books, some toys, a pretty dress, and her most played with gift: a hula hoop. Christmas day was entertaining as we all took turns trying, and failing, to match Avery's hula huping skills.
After Christmas, "the boys" (as Jasmine calls any sub-assembled group of my friends) and I took an ill-advised over-night ski trip up Mary's Peak, bringing critical essentials for a winter overnight adventure, including dura flame logs, a stinky wet dog, and an over-supply of adult beverages. We skied in for four hours or so and set up "camp". Our camp consisted of a hastily and sloppily dug "flat" spot in the snow, one tent, two bivy sacks, and a sheet of plastic. Naturally, being winter in Oregon, it poured down rain all night long. Our elevation was just high enough to ensure the rain was as cold as physically possible before turning to snow. Outstanding misery!

We returned to town the next day (New Year's Eve). I managed to stay up until about 9:00 pm on New Year's eve - several minutes longer than Avery, at least.

Other than that, I've been doing lots of bike riding, and am, FINALLY, starting to run semi-regularly again. I decided a few weeks ago to take a break and let various injuries heal up, as one injury kept seeming to lead to another (IT Band, calf pain, shin splint... whine whine whine!). Today I had a good 6 or 7 miles of wonderful trail running, followed by an hour or so of mountain biking. For some reason, my calves always get super sore after a bit of a running layoff, so I'm trying not to push the mileage back up too soon, and still substituting biking for riding quite a bit. My IT Band feels great though, and my shin feels pretty close to normal. Yahoo!

Oh yeah, and we finally got the new car we ordered about four months ago - a metallic blue Nissan Versa hatchback, which nicely combines fuel efficiency and my innate cheapness. But it's a nice little car, with a big inside and plenty of headroom for me, and a good size back seat for passengers. No complaints at all. Though, when watching the Rose Bowl, we noticed two Nissan commercials: one for the car called the "Z", which had a soundtrack that went "VROOOOOOMMMM... VROOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!!", and another for the Versa, that featured light, airy, plinkity-plink type music that suggested somewhat less in the manliness department than did the "Z". Oh well. On the bright side, my Versa has a rear spoiler, for extra downforce on those high speed driving maneuvers I do while hearing "plinkity-plink" music in my head. I didn't actually order the rear spoiler, but I did order ABS brakes. It turns out Nissan insists on packaging the spoiler and ABS brakes together. Which makes sense; to someone, somewhere, I hope. But not to me.

Happy New Year!