Interstellar Adventures

August 31, 2005

Tales from the Office, Series #82048

Filed under: Writing — by InterstellarLass @ 11:30 am

She was sitting at her desk, reading email and browsing bone-dry project documentation. Nearby sat two, plain, white Styrofoam cups. Standard corporate-issue, Recyclable #6. In one cup, coffee. In the other, granola. For the last hour, she’d been sipping coffee and pouring granola in her hand, then popping it in her mouth, quelling the munchies that had overtaken her while waiting for the lunch hour to arrive. One cup sat to her right on the cool, grey industrial desk. The other cup sat to her left, in front of papers waiting to be filed away. It was a seemingly normal workday scene.

Suddenly, tragedy struck. She absent-mindedly reached for the granola cup, keeping her eyes fixed on the LCD screen, reading the latest important dispatch from HQ. Her slender, tanned fingers wrapped themselves around the polystyrene cylinder, lifted the vessel, and tilted it toward her cupped palm. But, instead of the coarse, dry oats and honey mixture she expected in her hand, she felt lukewarm, sticky liquid pouring over her appendages. The caffeinated nectar ran off her hand, slowly spreading across her desk, and onto her laptop. She jumped quickly, muttering reproachful words to herself. Yanking open the cold, metal desk drawer that contained pens, paperclips and other miscellaneous items, including napkins from lunchtimes gone by, she pulled out the absorbent paper, formerly known as trees, to staunch the spread of the creamy brown coffee.

Only the very edge of the laptop base had received a dousing of the creamy brown liquid. She lifted the base, mounded napkin after napkin, and watched as they sucked up the bane of electronic devices everywhere. She silently prayed that none of the beverage had run into the protective plastic casing. After the last drip had dried, she proceeded to test the machine to make sure that normal functions were still present. As she typed, the words came out sdrawkcab. With mounting dread in her heart, she crossed her fingers and rebooted the system. As the familiar black screen with the wavering four-color flag appeared in front of her, she waited for and received the blue blinking screen, followed by the login dialog prompt. She typed in her password, pressed ‘Login’, and was rewarded for her patience and prayers with a functioning desktop.

August 30, 2005

Wild West Relay Volume II: Race Day Arrives

Filed under: Adventures,Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 9:18 am

I slept so well, I didn’t even hear the alarm go off. Judy and Keith were both up, and when I first heard them, I surely thought they had risen early. No, just me and my time-zone confused mind. I rolled out of bed at 4:45 am, washed the sleep out of my eyes, and put on my racing shoes. I knew it was going to be a chilly morning, so I made sure my jacket was out. Not something I normally think about in the middle of August!

We rolled our suitcases back out to the vans and arranged our gear. Our start time was 7:00 am, with a 6:00 am check-in. Four of our crew had decided to stay at the home of a friend that lived near-by, so we had coordinated a 5:30 am departure from the hotel. Right on time, everyone wandered out of the hotel or pulled into the parking lot.

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Keith, Chris, Bill, and Brad all piled in the back of the van, Judy navigated and I drove to the start. The start of the race was at the Budweiser Brewery in Fort Collins. We were there in less than 15 minutes. The highlight of my morning so far? Seeing the big Budweiser sign of course! I couldn’t have a drink yet…just another 36 hours or so!

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We were one of two Texas teams participating in the race, the other being a 6×6 Ultra team from San Antonio. The start line was full of energy and music at 6:00 am. Smiling faces, teams pulling in and getting organized. We took a couple of team pictures under the official start sign, and then waited around for our start. Looking at the other team vans, team ‘costumes’, and chatting with each other made the hour go by quickly. We had some goodie bags with swag samples and our official race shirts to go through too.

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The 6:30 teams took off, and we moved closer to the start. The morning was still very cool, crisp and dry. Our group was hanging around for the start before heading back into town and looking for a hot breakfast. Once the start actually occurred, it was rather anti-climactic. About 8 racers lined up at the start, including our man Paul, and exactly at 7, they were off! They ran down, out of the parking lot, and off onto the first leg of our collective 195-mile adventure!

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Back into the vans again, this time with Van 1 splitting off to follow Paul, and us to follow our growling stomachs. Driving down the main drag in Fort Collins, we quickly found exactly what we were looking for…an IHOP! Pancakes and coffee! We discussed our route to get to the exchange point and how we were looking forward to our respective legs. We had printouts of the leg descriptions with elevation gains and all.

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After our breakfast, we made our way to the exchange. We saw some runners waiting at an exchange that we thought might have been 5, but they weren’t ours. We saw a convenience store and decided to stop for the flushing toilets because we knew there were only port-o-lets at the next exchange. I signed the guest book at the convenience store (one day that signature will be worth money!) and marveled at the fine merchandise this store had to offer. We also paused to talk with another team that was the one 6×1 Ultra team in the competition. These were the crazies that were running six legs at a time before handing off to their next teammate to run the next six legs. They actually seemed pretty normal.

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After we pulled out of the parking lot, we quickly found the next exchange. It was just up the road from the convenience store. Literally…less than a tenth of a mile. We gave ourselves a good laugh and had a bit of a wait before we expected our runner. I was trying to stay hydrated, and therefore drinking more water than I think I’ve ever drank before. This also meant I had to go to the bathroom more than I ever had before. So, after a bit, I went and stood in the line for the port-o-let. It was a long line.

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We also chatted with some of the other teams here. I was loving some of the other team names. I think my favorite of the day was the Wyoming Women’s Militia and Knitting Circle. They rocked! An all women’s team, I think they ended up second in their division.

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Our Van 1 buddies pulled in after a while. Vickie, our Leg 6 runner would be coming in soon. Bill, our Leg 7 runner started to warm up. We stood near the entrance to the exchange, and cheered in runners from other teams as they came in. Finally, we saw Vickie running up the slight hill. She and Bill made a smooth transition, and he was off! Responsibility for the timing chart also transitioned from Van 1 to Van 2, and we again slit up.

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We drove down the road toward the next exchange, passing Bill and whoopin’ and hollerin’ at him for encouragement. This would become our modus operandi for the remainder of the race. Waiting for our runners at the exchanges, seeing our teammates off, and then shouting ‘woo hoo!’ out the window at them while we drive on to the next exchange. During the hotter parts of the day and on the longer legs, we would pull to the side of the road about half way through to check on them before driving on.

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Starting when Bill ran, the day had turned from cool to progressively very warm. The bright Colorado sun came out, and in the increased altitude, it was potently hot. I changed out of my long sleeve warm shirt and into my race singlet. I thought the ‘Too Hot To Handle’ appropriately described the day, if not the runner. 😉 he he he

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My first leg was a mere three miles. But, the first half mile or so was all downhill, followed by several short, ‘rolling’ hill sections, with the last mile being a consistent uphill climb. Either I hadn’t stretched properly, or I ran at an odd gait down the first section of my leg, or a combination of both, but I felt my right leg getting progressively numb. By the end of the first mile, it was completely numb. I kept looking down at my feet to make sure it was still there, and to make sure that I landed on the flat of my foot so as not to twist my ankle. I wanted to stop and try to stretch it out, but the another part of me said ‘just keep going!’, which is what I did. George was down a bit from the exchange to greet me. As you can see, I didn’t look happy. 😦 I handed off our ‘baton’ to Paul, and he took off for the start of section 2.

I was so disappointed in my first leg! As soon as I stopped running, my leg went all ‘pins and needles’ as the feeling slowly started to return. I also started coughing terribly. Within five minutes of finishing my run, I felt like my brains were going to leak out of my nose. You know that stinging feeling you get when you get a rush of chlorine water up your nose when you’re swimming? Yeah, that’s what it felt like, except it didn’t go away. Then, my nose just stopped up. I was still coughing, and I couldn’t breathe in or out of my nose. Excellent. We made a few PB&J sammiches, with lots of peanut butter and lots of jelly, and I chowed down on some Goldfish crackers.

We were done with our section, so we got in the van to drive to Exchange 18. This is where Vickie and Bill would pick up again in the night leg. We knew it was going to take us a fair bit of time to get there, so we hadn’t planned on stopping except for a gas or pit stop. We took an unpaved, narrow road down a steep, winding hill. This was a bit nerve-wracking, but Bill did an excellent job driving. We found a convenience store, where I located some nasal spray for my poor nose. The stinging had stopped, and I finally sneezed after feeling the urge for over half an hour. But, the stuffiness persisted. Until I used the nasal spray. After that, I kept a constant supply of tissues at hand. The map above basically shows our route from Fort collins to where I finished, in Red Feather Lakes.

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After we left the c-station, I was in the back and fell asleep quickly. The next thing I know, we’re in Walden. Evidently, our navigator decided to take a nap as well, and the driver missed the turn we were supposed to take. This, however, worked out very well for us, as we were able to check into our hotel, grab a hot bite to eat, a quick shower and a brief doze on a soft bed. This is also where I made my first audioblog check-in.

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As the sun set, we made our way up into the mountains of southern Wyoming for the start of our night leg.

Stay tuned…next time at Interstellar Adventures: Wild West Relay Volume III: Full Moon Running. Hey! Stop that! That’s not what I mean! 😉

August 29, 2005

Just what I needed!!!

Filed under: Adventures,Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 4:11 pm

Now I’m re-inspired, re-energized, and re-dedicated! Only 54 more days! This is exactly what I needed after yesterday’s run. My friend, fellow marathon runner and gal-pal extraordinaire, Judy, sent me a couple of articles about our race.

I will be running with 14,849 other beautiful, strong and extraordinary women on October 23.

We will continue the tradition of excellence from last year.

And if that doesn’t do it for me on race day…well, there’s always the hotel.

New mileage achievement = great pain

Filed under: Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:39 am

My entire body hurts. My calves, my quads, my low back, my shoulders and my arms. Sure, I could’ve taken an ice bath and I probably wouldn’t hurt as much, but sitting in a tub of freezing water for 20 minutes didn’t appeal to me yesterday. I’ve done it before, and it is pure torture. So, I’m suffering today.

I got my kids back from my grandparents (babysitting for my early am run), went to my friend’s house, had four enchiladas, some chips and homemade guacamole, a glass of wine, three beers, and put some pictures on some pages (aka scrapbooking) for a couple of hours, then went home.

I fell asleep at 7:30 pm. I vaguely remember my kids trying to wake me up to come put them in bed, but I told them they were old enough to find their own beds. (I promise, I’m a good mom! This just wasn’t one of my better moments.) I couldn’t even open my eyes! I was totally drained. That hasn’t happened to me in a long, long time. I feel better, energy-wise today. Colorado Volume II due tomorrow.

August 28, 2005

Planned vs. Actual

Filed under: Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:13 am

Today’s Plan: Run 3:20, approximately 16 miles at an easy pace, 12 – 12:30.

Today’s Actual: Ran 3:50, 18 miles, at a 12:45 pace.

The pace was so slow because I didn’t know we were running the extra miles, so I exerted too much energy on the front end and had to do a 4/1 run/walk on the route back. Only when I looked at my watch and saw 1:40 and asked why we weren’t turning around did I come to find out we were going 9 miles out. Plus I forgot to take my Aleve, so my hips were hurting. I’m not happy today. 😦 I’m going to shower, get dressed, go to my friend’s house, pretend to scrapbook, and drink lots of beer and eat some enchiladas.

My marathon is 8 weeks away from today, and based on my performance this morning, a 5:00 finish goal is looking to be in jeopardy. I’m going to be so disappointed if I don’t finish in 5:00 or less. I mean, I know finishing is a feat in itself and I will be deliriously happy when I cross that finish line, but I’ve been putting a lot of extra work in, doing the speed workouts and hill training and everything to meet the 5:00 goal.

Now I’m just in a bummed-out mood today. This isn’t the normal ‘me’. I’m just feeling sorry for myself and I need to snap out of it.

OK. There. 😀

August 26, 2005

Wild West Relay Volume I: Dallas Hill Wrangers Travel to Colorado

Filed under: Adventures,Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:47 am

How many suitcases does it take for Lass to run from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs? One, two, three. Three suitcases. (Insert the sound of The Count laughing here.) I spent Tuesday and Wednesday making my lists, washing clothes, organizing piles of running clothes, regular clothes, running shoes, regular shoes, mandatory safety gear, and miscellaneous items needed to ensure a comfortable journey for myself. I packed one suitcase for ‘after the race’ and one suitcase for just race gear. The other was really my small rolling carry-on, so it was more like a quarter suitcase. OK, OK, I’m just trying to justify having three bags for a four day trip. Any other normal trip it would have been one. I promise.

5 am dawned early (like any other day really) Thursday morning. I was so excited about the trip, I jumped out of bed and immediately began double-checking my packing list and trying to not be paranoid about forgetting something very important. I knew we were going to make a shopping trip to Target (see, even on vacation I get my Target fix) before the race so we could stock up on food and beverages and whatnot, so if I did forget anything, I’d be covered.

Nick was so sweet to agree to take me to the airport so I didn’t have to leave my car in remote parking for days. A 10:30 am flight means being to the airport by 8:30 am, and I live about an hour from the airport. Plus, there was morning rush-hour traffic to worry over, so we left my house at 7:30.

Traffic wasn’t so bad, so we got to the airport early. Got my bags checked in with no problem and then waited on the rest of the group. Nick stayed with me till it was time to go through security. He really is a doll.

The whole team, plus two support crew, were there and ready to fly. Keith, Judy, Chris, Bill, Jean, Paul, Gates, George, Celine, Vickie, Brad, and yours truly, plus Janet and Deborah rounded out our motley crew.

Team Photo waiting at the gate.

We boarded the plane on time, not knowing that we would have a significant delay ahead of us. As we were sitting on the plane and preparing to take off, the captain came on the loud speaker and said that there was a small problem that they hoped to have remedied quickly. After a while, he came on again. Yep. Still working on the problem. FYI, this problem was that the co-pilot flight computer wouldn’t come on. The pilot flight computer was fine though. Oh yeah, I’m feeling good about this. Um., can we get another plane please? A little longer…still working on the problem. They actually shut down all the power on the plane in order to try to ‘reboot’ the system they were trying to fix. That does not give one a good feeling about flying on a plane!

Judy and Keith are happy to board.          Somebody’s a happy flyer!
              

They finally decided to de-plane us. They were going to see if they could ‘borrow’ the necessary part from another airline, otherwise we were going to have to wait for a part to be flown in from another United hub. Great. It was time for lunch, so we went on down to the Chili’s Too, had a beer and some lunch, and then came back to see what the status was on the plane.

Some French guy getting a shoe-shine.       Duck…duck…goose!
                

We sat around, and sat around, and sat around. They kept giving us updates. The part was here, and they were installing it! Except from what we could see, it was like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Finally, the captain came on and said that the part they flew in didn’t fix the problem! The diagnosing computer was wrong. Hmmm. So, meanwhile, all passengers with connecting flights are being placed on other flights. They have priority since they are connecting. We, as direct flyers, are on the bottom of the list. Except there are 14 of us! It’s easy to re-route one or two people, but 14 of us have to get to the same place at the same time. Dammit! Didn’t they know we were special?

The plane that wouldn’t fly.

So, in all my diplomacy, after the captain came on the last time, asked “So, at what point do you all give us a status as to when the flight might actually be cancelled in order for us to make an educated decision about our options. We know that no other United flight to Denver is going to get us where we’re going, and our option is to spend more money on another airline, or rent a van and drive all night directly to the starting line.” They didn’t seem to understand that I was just asking when the flight might actually be cancelled rather than them giving us a status of ‘we’re still working on it’. I wasn’t trying to be mean, just trying to elicit more information. But, within two minutes, the flight was cancelled. We were standing at the head of the line, so we were able to be some of the first ones places on another airline. We had booked a group rate, and they were able to get 13 of us on an alternate American flight. One girl had booked on her own and got on the last United flight out to Denver. We all felt much better.

Gates & Janet correctly riding the escalator.    Keith needs safety instructions though.
                       

The American flight took off around 5 I think, and was smooth, for flying. I don’t like flying very much. I’m really bad with the take-off part of it. I just try to breathe deep, close my eyes and think happy thoughts to myself. I finished four days of crosswords while on the plane though. That’s a good thing.

The little plane that could!

We got to Denver around 6:30. Picked up our rental vans and headed toward Fort Collins. I was starting to not feel so good since it had been almost 7 hours already since I’d last had something to eat. My body is a finely tuned machine (*cough, giggle, snort*) and must be fueled at consistent intervals, or I start to feel very, very ill. I had a bit of a headache from the canned air smell on the plane. Sadly, there was nothing along the road except for mountains and prarie.

I would spend the next 48 hours in a van with these people. Good thing they’re awesome!

We made it into Fort Collins and found a Carrabas. Good pasta for fuel. I had the Mezza Luna ravioli. It was actually very good. I think I ate half a loaf of bread too. And, had a glass of Rosa Sangria. It was very delicious. I could taste the brandy in the mix, and it made my headache go away. Or maybe it was the Aleve.

After dinner, we checked into the hotel and unloaded bags. I was driving, and while Judy was checking in, she was waving me in to the lobby. I went to see what she needed. When I approached, she handed me a fax. It was from Nick. What a sweetheart. He just sent me a little inspirational note to have a good race.

Then we went on our shopping spree to Target (said with a French accent of course, Tar-jay). Loaded up on water, sport drink, carbs, sweets, etc. Food for fuel for running. Oh, and PB&J. I love peanut butter and jelly. My favorite running food. It’s practically a gourmet meal out there on the course. And how does one make a gourmet PB&J? Lots of peanut butter and lots of jelly. Enough so the jelly squishes out the side when you take a bite and you have to lick the jelly off the side of the bread. MMMMM.

Back at the hotel, it was time to wind down and prepare for the day. Keith & Judy & I were bunking together since I knew them best. I was supposed to room with a couple of the other solo girls, but a snafu with the room reservations gave us one smoking room. So, since Judy said it was her error, and I’m not picky, I stayed with them. I did have a bit of a scare though when Keith opened his suitcase and we were shocked to hear a strange buzzing noise. But it was just his toothbrush. 😉

We sorted through our running gear, laying out our starting line clothes and deciding on a shower schedule for the next day. We made it to bed shortly before midnight. For a hotel room bed, I fell to sleep quickly and slept well.

Next Installment: Wild West Relay Volume II: Race Day Arrives!

August 25, 2005

Bonus Miles

Filed under: Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 10:48 pm

Did a little social run tonight at Arbor Hills. Ran an easy, conversational 4 miles in 47:55, then ran/walked, but mostly walked, the final mile in, well, too long. But, 10 miles total running today plus a cool-down mile (you know, I think I forgot my morning warm-up half mile) in one day ain’t too shabby. To quote Adam Sandler. Then went and had some quesadillas and a Shiner for dinner. Mmmm good.

I knew it!

Filed under: Training — by InterstellarLass @ 8:23 am

Yep, I’m wishing I had run hills. I had my first taste of the mile repeats today. They suck big time. They’re super fun!

Mile 1: 10:20 (way too fast)
Mile 2: 10:48
Mile 3: 11:00
Mile 4: 10:48
Mile 5: 10:45
Mile 6: 10:34

These are all actually a little fast, but hey, better than slow. Total of 6 miles in 1:04:05 (if my math is right, which it may not be), with an average 10:40 mile.

I’ve decided to serialize the Colorado report. First installment will be up tomorrow. I know you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats in anticipation. 😛

August 24, 2005

Blog-block

Filed under: Writing — by InterstellarLass @ 9:43 am

I can’t think of anything to write about today. I’m still sorting through pictures and stuff from Colorado, and the write-up is nowhere near ready. 😦 Sigh. And, the official photos are still being uploaded by the picture-taking-people. I’ve looked, but don’t see any of me. 😦 This is actually probably a good thing. Just to give you a taste:

I’m all smiles before the run.      But at the end, I thought I was going to die.
                          

I was runnin’ ugly, breathing hard, it was HOT, and for some reason my right leg was completely numb at this point, and had been for about two miles. Yep, this was my low point of the race. Good news is, it was all fantastic after that!

August 23, 2005

So what’s next?

Filed under: Adventures,Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 8:40 am

Now that the Colorado relay is over, what’s next you ask? Well, the marathon is the next thing on the list. October 23 in San Francisco. That’s exactly two months away! I’m done with hill workouts now, but we’ve moved on to Yasso’s and Mile Repeats.

I had Yasso’s explained to me like this. You should run 800s in minutes what your marathon goal time is in hours. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use my goal time. If you marathon finish goal time is 5 hours, then you should run an 800 (two times around a quarter mile track) in 5 minutes. Between each 800, jog the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeat. Then, run another 800 in 5 minutes. You start with a low number of repeats the first week, then build up to 10 over several weeks.

Mile repeats are similar. These you are supposed to run 20 seconds faster than your goal pace. Then walk 400 meters between each repeat. This Thursday we’re supposed to do six of those bad boys. I see a max of eight in a day on our schedule. Holy moly! That should be fun. 🙂

After the marathon? The Rockledge Rumble 30K Trail Run on Nov. 12. Then, the White Rock Marathon on Dec 11. Then, the big, bad Bandera 50K Trail Run on Jan. 7. Bandera is what started all this blogging stuff. I still think that this is one of the hardest things I have ever done and finished. Last year I conquered the 25K trail (plus some). This next time I’m going for twice the distance. A 50K. That’s 31 miles. Depending on how well (or not so well) my marathons go, I will be running the 50K distance. If I’m not feeling so hot, then I’ll just do the 25K again for fun (and a better time). This is the grand master plan.

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